Sam Mendes' "Spectre" (2015): An attempted homage to the classic 007 films

One of the weakest of the four James Bond films starring Daniel Craig

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Spectre, Movie Poster, Directed by Sam Mendes
Spectre (2015) - By Sam Mendes
Our Rating: 7.0
IMDb Ratings: 7.2
Genre: Action | Adventure | Thriller
CastDaniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux
Country: USA | UK
Language: English
Runtime: 148 min
Color: Color

Summary: A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind Spectre.

Spectre is the latest installment in the James Bond film series—the 24th film in the celebrated espionage franchise—based on British author Ian Fleming’s larger-than-life superspy, James Bond aka 007. Directed by British filmmaker Sam Mendes who previously directed Skyfall, Spectre marks Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as James Bond. The movie reintroduces the supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld—the criminal mastermind heading the terrorist organization SPECTRE (now referred to as Spectre) and the archenemy of James Bond—after  an absence of four decades, owing to a legal dispute, since the character’s last credited appearance in Diamonds Are Forever (1971). In Spectre, Blofeld (with background and character significantly altered) is played by the two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. While Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomie Harris reprise their roles from Skyfall—that of M, Q, and Moneypenny, respectively—Spectre also stars Italian actress Monica Bellucci (who makes a brief appearance), French actress Léa Seydoux, and former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista.  

Daniel during in his fourth outing as James Bond in Spectre, Directed by Sam Mendes
Daniel during in his fourth outing as James Bond in Spectre
Spectre weaves the storylines of the previous three Bond films—Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall—together with an overarching story arc that reveals Blofeld as the grand architect of all the evil that has pervaded Bond’s life including the deaths of Vesper Lynd (Bond’s love interest played by Eva Green in Casino Royale) and Olivia Mansfield aka M (the head of MI6 and Bond’s superior, a recurring character, played by Judi Dench). After completing an unsanctioned mission in Mexico City ordered by the previous M through a posthumous message, Bond learns about a secret terrorist organization named Spectre. Bond is hell-bent on exposing the evil genius behind the organization but he is grounded by the current M who is furious with him for disobeying his orders.

Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeline Swann in Spectre, Directed by Sam Mendes
Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeline Swann in Spectre
M already has his hands full as he is facing opposition from Max Denbigh (played by Irish actor Andrew Scott)  aka C—the Director-General of the Joint Security Service, a merged organization of MI5 and MI6—who wants to close down the '00' section. Bond once again defies M’s orders and travels to Rome, with some assistance from Q, where he gatecrashes a Spectre meeting and identifies the leader of the organization as a ghost from his past. Bond barely escapes the clutches of a dangerous Specre assassin named Mr. Hinx (played Dave Batista) and finally meets his old foe Mr. White (a former member of Quantum, a subsidiary of Spectre, played by Jesper Christensen in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) on his deathbed.  White tells Bond that he has grown disillusioned with Quantum and asks Bond to protect his daughter, Dr. Madeline Swann (played by Léa Seydoux), who can lead him to Spectre. Bond gives him his word just as a dilapidated White blows his brains out. Bond must now protect Swann and convince her to help him reach Spectre and the criminal mastermind behind it.     
Christopher Waltz as the evil genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Directed by Sam Mendes
Christopher Waltz as the evil genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Spectre does have its moments but it is one of the weakest of the four films starring Craig as 007. The culprit is its weak storyline and a runtime that’s the longest ever for a Bond film. Pierce Brosnan sums it up perfectly: “I thought it was too long. The story was kind of weak — it could have been condensed. It kind of went on too long. It really did… [Spectre] is neither fish nor fowl. It’s neither Bond nor Bourne.”  While there is no dearth of thrill and adventure in here, the suspense quotient is surprisingly low especially despite being projected as the final missing piece in the puzzle that would unlock the mystery that binds the four films together.  A grimmer ending on the lines of On HerMajesty’s Secret Service could have worked better. However, the action is topnotch and the fight sequences featuring Daniel Craig and Dave Batista are the movie's real highlight.

A Still from the opening sequence of Spectre, Mexico City, Unofficial Mission ordered by the previous M, Directed by Sam Mendes
A Still from the opening sequence of Spectre
Overall, Spectre proves to be a worthy addition to the James Bond film franchise but unlike Casino Royale and Skyfall it fails to leave a lasting impact. Spectre is an attempt on the part of the makers to pay homage to the classic 007 movies but the execution only reflects their confused state of mind. Ever since Daniel Craig stepped into the shoes of Bond there have been deliberate efforts to project not only a different kind of a Bond but also a different brand of 007 films. Skyfall gave us hints that the makers are finally trying to revive the old 007 motifs. With Spectre this shift looks rather forced and without proper planning. Out of a sudden the new generation of Bond lovers has been forced to content with a tacky potpourri of the old and the new. While Skyfall was a pleasant surprise, Spectre comes across as an anomaly of sorts. The creative think-tank must quickly decide if it wants to return to the classic 007 elements or build upon the new ones that Casino Royale brought in. One of the strongest points of Spectre is Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography and the movie’s opening sequence is pure brilliance: while it gives the impression of an uncut tracking shot, it is actually was accomplished with the fusion of several meticulously crafted long takes with a little bit of CGI. While Daniel Craig is solid as ever, Christoph Waltz fails to be at his menacing best. The real culprit of course is weak writing and not Waltz. In fact, both Craig and Waltz deserve better from their writers. Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Swann certainly has the looks to kill; it is the more ravishing that the French beauty has ever looked on the silver screen. Despite its aforementioned shortcomings, Spectre serves as a pleasant viewing experience and is a must watch for the Bond movie enthusiasts.

Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below. As always your insightful comments are highly appreciated!


Spectre (2015) Trailer (YouTube)

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  1. Excellent break down. I do love the debate this movie has spawned!

  2. Glad to hear that... thanks for sharing your views! :-)


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