Finally, Daniel Craig gets a proper Bond film. From Casino Royale through to the end of Skyfall, it felt like it was a long, drawn-out (but very entertaining) process to rediscover, rebuild and “reboot” Bond. The classic tropes and traditions had been stripped away and slowly reintroduced, from the catchphrase, theme song through to some of the more iconic characters. Thankfully, Spectre has them all back in place but without changing or compromising what had been built so well in the Craig-era.
For starters, Daniel Craig is now a comfortable, cocky and arrogant James Bond. You can see in Craig some of the traits that should feature in all Bonds. He is beginning to add a quip, cracks a smile at inappropriate times and even messes with Ben Whishaw’s Q in a style not unfamiliar to Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan.
It is also the re-established, re-imagined versions of the “Bond Family” that helps add a familiarity but maintain that vein of realism through the movie. Ben Whishaw is a gadget producing Q, and thankfully Bond does have gadgets now, but primarily he is a computer hacker. Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny is still M’s secretary but she is also a past field agent and willing to get involved in the action – as is Ralph Fiennes’ M who is still a stickler for the rules but knows what worth he has in a renegade 00-agent. It’s familiar but remains fresh.
That theme runs through the movie. Craig’s Bond drives an Aston Martin but there is a fresh approach to the gadgets and technology used. A high-speed pursuit through the streets of Rome isn’t actually too carnage filled and feels like a much more realistic scene, with some damage and disruption until the usual, “explosive” finale.
That sense of realism runs through all the action sequences, of which Spectre has few but they are massive. A downhill snow chase involving a wingless plane, the destruction of a building as a Bond falls through it, one of the most breathtaking helicopter fights you’ll ever see and the biggest on-screen explosion in film history. They are all impressive but never feel ridiculous and just add to that realism.
Which brings the tricky case of the movie’s title. Spectre was always a key part of the early Bond franchise and it’s clear that they are an important aspect in this movie. Luckily, as with most of Spectre, the villains are back to the more familiar and recognisable features you’d get in a Bond film. Christopher Waltz’s Oberhauser has a dastardly, world-effecting plan but not a too ridiculous one. We even get a more traditional method of dispatch, with Oberhauser torturing Bond in a style much more reminiscent of Goldfinger and the Connery years.
Also in classic Bond style, there is the ruthless henchman, here played brilliantly by WWE and Marvel alumni Dave Bautista. Bautista plays Hinx, who has a great introduction in the movie and puts Bond through his paces in one of the more brutal battles you’ll see on-screen this year, let alone in a Bond movie.
Spectre is what you’d hope from a more recent Bond movie: a new, fresh and realistic approach to the spy which also fondly looks back to what has gone before. Spectre manages to deliver what would be considered traditional Bond while still maintaining the quality it has developed over three previous Craig movies. To effectively and somewhat unbelievably tie these movies together as one coherent story is quite impressive too.
Overall, Spectre has everything you’d want from a Bond movie. Craig is playing a much more familiar, classic version of the spy, the original “Bond Family offer support and the action sequences are as amazing as they should be. Add to this a great villain and a brutish henchman and you have one of the more realistic, fresh but traditional movies in the Bond series.
Rating – 4.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)