“I suggest you trust me, for the sake of the cats.”
It is fair to say that I’m rather fond of this Bond.
In the opening exchange, a masqueraded Craig channels his inner Baron Samedi in a highly-impressive continuous shot that relishes in 007’s silence. Spectre is not the loudest Bond or the most outlandish Bond, but one set as close to reality as can be achieved. The franchise is always going to produce bombastic, misogynistic forays into cinema, but Spectre makes a conceited effort to keep the antiquated areas of 007’s tradition to a minimum.
The franchise’s illustrious globetrotting is retained as Spectre visit a bustling Mexico City, the beautifully iconic, narrow Roman streets and the sun-baked expanses of the Sahara desert. Bond faces snow, sun, day and night to keep the plot very much on its toes. With all the money spent on the round-the-world jaunt and further trademark set-pieces, Spectre gets real value for money from its ever expanding cast of jewels.
Once again, Craig is the epitome of the modern Bond, but it is the characters swirling around him that bring this Spectre to life. Centrally, Waltz is as perfectly maniacal as we’d dreamed. Calm, collected and forever casual, his soft and controlled demeanor is more terrifying than any physical force. Bardem’s Silva pales in comparison to the Pale King’s once-leader. Léa Seydoux slays her second release in less than a month, proving that what is required is less of a Bond Girl and more of a bold woman. And Dave. Oh, what an entrance. Bautista’s silent, stoic assassin is a modern-day Jaws, thankfully without the gimmick.
Spectre firmly feels like a Bond without gimmick. Very modest flashes of our lead’s sexual magnetism are gifted, crashes, smashes and explosions are rather restrained and death is a tamed beast. Sam Mendes has rightly focussed on crafting a well-written and directed tale, styled traditionally and contemporaneously.
Feeling much more at home next to Casino Royale than Skyfall, Spectre is as good as Bond is going to get. It may be overlong and it may try to do too much, but never before has the combination of a strong protagonist, stronger villain and engaging attempt at a modern story hit so close to its mark.
Header courtesy of collider. Images courtesy of comicbookresources and maskable respectively.