Spectre (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Spectre (2015) Directed by Sam Mendes. With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Andrew Scott. 

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Under the guidance of Sam Mendes and four screen-writers, Ian Fleming’s James Bond returns for Spectre, the latest all-singing-all-dancing 007 adventure. Back too is Daniel Craig, widely considered the most favourable (certainly the most politically correct), incarnation of the character we’ve seen to date.

Just like Craig slips perfectly into those Tom Ford-tailored suits, as director, Sam Mendes is an excellent fit for the Bond series. With a background in theatre, not to mention the award-winning drama of American Beauty, Skyfall proved that Mendes is a safe pair of hands for 007.

It’s pleasing to find that Spectre successfully continues the Bond legacy, by being a continuation of many of the themes and characters that we have come to know, during Daniel Craig’s tenure. Thankfully, gone are the days of the frivolous, standalone Bond adventures, but conversely, we’re still treated to the finer elements of what has made those films endure; the gadgets, the girls and the cartoon henchmen. Under Mendes, it’s all applied with a certain je ne sais quoi, with a level of humour that is cleverly layered in with the high class, as opposed to being clumsily daubed all over it, à la Moore, Brosnan and bits of Connery.

What I particularly enjoyed about Spectre, was how unashamedly ‘Bond’ it felt, while still retaining a comfortable distance from being a slave to the format. In simpler terms, we get to have our cake and eat it. There’s dramatic sleight of hand in Craig’s performance, which deftly hints at a man searching for a soul, or more importantly, someone to help him unlock it. Enter the fray, French actress Léa Seydoux as Madeleine, not just any old Bond-girl, but a young woman with a direct link to a significant part of the previous three films in this series, and we begin to witness the grass-roots of narrative arcs being drawn. It would be remiss of me to delve much further into plot detail, but suffice it to say, Mendes and his team of writers adopt plot points from previous films, to help usher in a new chapter.

Under Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s artful eye, Spectre is beautifully staged, with eye-catching shot compositions. One train sequence could be seen as Mendes’ homage to From Russia With Love, but in truth, it outshines it with ample cabin space to spare. Perhaps it isn’t equipped to scale the dizzy heights of Casino Royale, but then, I can’t think of a Bond film that does. What Spectre is, is a solid continuation of a deepening narrative that gives the audience what it craves, while not resting too heavily on its laurels. 4/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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10 Responses to Spectre (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Ricardo says:

    Yeah, I should get around to watching this soon.

  2. Natasha says:

    Spectre is a great film. I love Craig as Bond. Great review!

    • garethrhodes says:

      I thought it delivered the goods. I know it’s had a lot of lukewarm reviews, but i didn’t find anything of significance to complain about. It’s a Bond film – there’s only so far you can stretch it. Good fun.

  3. Chris Evans says:

    Spectre was underrated, not as good as Casino or Skyfall for sure but a strong continuation of the Craig series. I feel that Craig should return for one last vodka martini before handing in his licence to kill.

    Great review Gareth, I was glad to see you take a moment to appreciate Hoyt Van Hotema’s cinematopgraphy. I may have got this wrong but I’m sure Christopher Nolan has hired him for Dunkirk.

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed it, certainly more than I did.
    I think Bond has become too reliant on previous story. Yes, it’s interesting to see a Bond who is actually affected by his past and isn’t some emotionless robot but I think in Spectre Bond is enslaved by his past as are this film’s writers. They try to create a link between the three previous films and, unnecessarily, create one between Bond and this film’s villain. It’s frustrating because the story never feels like it’s moving forward. It constantly feels like for every step forward, Bond takes five back.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Another interesting perspective tonight, my friend. To me, Bond is one of those experiences where I just let the movie be a movie. My preconceptions are of nothing but a certain set of ingredients…a bit like when I eat cake. I’m not saying they don’t dip around in quality, but I’d say Spectre ticks most of the boxes. I like the long-form storytelling in Bond films, nowadays, and am happy to see the back of those days of resetting with each new adventure. Of course, it’s always great to share opposing views, and I very much value and take onboard your opinion. 🙂

  5. The best bit about Spectre for me was the exquisite opening scene, a beautifully choreographed sequence with few cuts. Otherwise yes, I agree, classic Bond.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I really don’t see what there is to complain about. Was Skyfall THAT good that this seems THAT bad? I’m more along the lines of, ‘it’s Bond, it was business as usual’. The train sequence was great too, and, as you’d expect with Mendes, he got himself a great DP.

  6. I definitely agree with the general consensus (it seems) among the others in that, yes, it wasn’t as much ‘fun’ as Casino or Skyfall, but it was a solid Bond film. My only real complaint is that there were parts where the film seemed to drag. It just felt a little too long. If they could’ve managed to shorten it by just a few seconds here and there it may not have dragged so much, but in general it was a good, solid Bond film.

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