The 24th Bond movie is a strong continuation from the hugely successful “Skyfall” but it is definitely more aimed at traditional fans than any of Daniel Craig’s previous efforts. SPECTRE takes all the elements reintroduced in “Skyfall” like Moneypenny, Q and the DB9 to another level combining them with the new method of personalised storytelling that revolutionised the francise with “Casino Royale”. The result is largely successful but does make a few trade offs which might not appeal to wider audiences but are second nature to die hard fans like myself.
SPECTRE’s opening scene works well to capture audiences attention following the model of Craig’s other movies as it creates certain questions which the film has to answer. This opening chase sequence is inhanced by the stunning setting of Mexico City during the day of the dead which allowed the custome designers to explore different images of the macabre and turn it into a real spectacle. Where as Craig’s other films have emphasised a focus on slightly more realistic stunts the helicopter sequence at the end of Bond’s breif chase through the parade requires the audience to suspend their disbelief and is a little reminiscent of “GoldenEye” where Bond jumps into a falling plane. In many ways this shift epitomises the differnce between SPECTRE and “Skyfall”.
This exangeration is also visible in the main plot as it tries to tie the previouse three films together. Like “Quantum of Solace”, SPECTRE follows on directly from the last film and does this reasonably well with ‘M’ leaving Bond a secret message that sets up one last mission for the old boss. It also offers continuaty with Ralph Fiennes, Naoime Harris, Rory Kinnear and Ben Whishaw all reprising their roles from “Skyfall” as Bond’s fellow members of MI6. Unfortunately, the link with Craig’s other films isn’t as successful since the overiding storyline becomes a bit far fetched and feels overly simplistic at times.
Beyound the links to the previouse films the plot continues to deal with more of Bond’s personal life. This does successfully build the tension between Bond and Blofeld played by Christopher Waltz but is incapable of reaching the development present in “Casino Royale” or “Skyfall”. Similarly the film tries to build a relationship between Bond and Dr Madeleine Swann portayed by Léa Seydoux but despite their on screen chemistry she’s no Vesper. Overall the plot tries too hard to recaputre previous success and doesn’t quiet pull it off, yet it is far from a complete wreak.
The strength of SPECTRE is undoubtedly the emphasis on the traditional Bond formula. Firstly, Ben Whishaw’s return as Q brings with it new and familar toys including a fully equiped Austen Martin DB10. More subtle then this is the return of a good old fashioned Bond henchmen in Mr Hinx played by Dave Bautista. A silent imposing figure he often appears seemingly out of nowhere and his physical size makes him a match for Craig. Like these elements the return of Blofeld the old nemesis might not please everyone but it does get fans who have grown up watching Bond films excited.
The result is a very good Bond movie but one that doesn’t rise to the heights acheived by “Skyfall”. Still it has it’s moments and is the first time since before the 80’s that a highpoint in the francise has not been followed by a monumental disappointment.
The latest addition to the James Bond franchise is a return to form and thankfully dispels the bitter taste left after “Quantum of Solace”. Daniel Craig reprises his role as the famous MI6 operative who returns from the wilderness when the secret service itself comes under attack. Bond must overcome his own personal demons to hunt down the threat and protect the core of MI6.
“Quantum of Solace” the previous film moved away from the traditional formula in an effort to modernise the series. This brave approach did not receive a positive response from the ‘die-hard’ Bond fans who have well developed expectations for the franchise. Fans reaction to this film demonstrated the need to return to the traditions that has built one of cinema’s greatest series. The result is a Bond movie that combines high-paced action sequences with the return of the classic 007 whity one liners and shows an appropriate respect for tradition while avoiding tokenism.
Skyfall’s success is largely due to the development of a harrowing villain portrayed by Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) who presents the perfect onscreen contrast to Craig’s physical Bond. Expertly supported by Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney the cast breathes new life into a 50 year old institution. The icing on the cake, Adele’s Academy Award winning theme just cements ‘Skyfall’ as one of the best Bond films yet.