- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Adventure, Crime
Let us get one thing straight; ‘Spectre’ is beautiful.
It is very easy on the eyes, and certainly pleasing to look at for the entirety of its 148-minute run. But so were the less celebrated, gorgeous Bond girls who did not have much substance to them.
To be fair, the 24th James Bond film is far from a bad movie. With Sam Mendes at the helm once again, it is unsurprisingly a solid effort, albeit one that never rises above what it offers at face value.
With an extremely generous US$300 million (S$421 million) budget and a very illustrious roster, ‘Spectre’ is arguably the most ambitious Bond film yet. And that is probably why it leaves an aftertaste of dissatisfaction despite its rich entertainment and adrenaline value.
GREAT ACTION, LOW SUBSTANCE
Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista and Lea Seydoux in 'Spectre' | Photo: Sony
After the events of 2012’s ‘Skyfall’, James Bond (Daniel Craig) embarks on a secret mission with links to his past. He follows a terrorist to Mexico and is made aware of a powerful secret organisation called SPECTRE.
With MI6 closely watched by British government official C (Andrew Scott), Bond must track down SPECTRE with minimal support, and his investigation leads him to Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and a powerful foe (Christoph Waltz).
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‘Spectre’ starts out strong, with a gorgeous opening action sequence that is as beautifully shot as it is chair-gripping. And that sets the tone for the rest of the film; it is an effectively thrilling teaser that never quite reaches what it seems to be building up to.
The film’s strongest asset is undoubtedly its roster. Sam Mendes, who returns to direct his second Bond film, is still one of the leading choices to helm the franchise after his highly successful Bond debut in ‘Skyfall’.
With ‘Spectre’, Mendes succeeds again. He executes his film with much finesse, filling it with all the style and sleek action sequences that are expected of a Bond film. Exhilarating car chases and stunning locations are flaunted. When it comes to the action and essence of the movie, Mendes gives his audience what they want out of a 007 adventure.
But when it comes to the plot that drives the film, ‘Spectre’ feels thin, too convenient, too obvious and even uninspired. There are no poignant moments to hold on to, nor surprises in store, nor sufficient development to give any of the events significant meaning. ‘Spectre’ is good fun, but it is the kind of haphazard fun that feels incomplete.
Lea Seydoux in 'Spectre' | Photo: Sony
Likewise, the underlying vibe of incompleteness is found with the characters, who keep us interested by dropping hints of potential greatness, but never actually become interesting enough.
The biggest name on the roster is easily Christoph Waltz who plays villain Franz Oberhauser. The two-time Oscar winner has risen to become quite an illustrious name, particularly when it comes to portraying fascinating and intimidating baddies, such as his star-making performance in ‘Inglourious Basterds’.
Waltz is effortlessly intimidating and intriguing as the main 'Spectre' villain. But for all of Waltz’s talent and Mendes’ efforts to elevate the character, Oberhauser is too one dimensional on a script for him to strike a chord on screen. When one has seen what Waltz is capable of, Oberhauser simply feels like wasted potential for the Austrian talent.
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Stepping up as the new Bond girl is Léa Seydoux, a winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or award and one of Europe’s brightest young stars. Seydoux had already proven her ability to handle espionage action films in ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’, and she does hold her own in her very prominent role as the intelligent Madeleine Swann. But the character, albeit somewhat interesting, is also too straightforward.
A hint of excitement comes with Dave Bautista’s strong, silent and seemingly indestructible Mr. Hinx. He is reminiscent of the classic Bond henchman, but ends up being strangely insignificant and too fleeting to make an impact.
Andrew Scott (of ‘Sherlock’ fame) plays the cocky and admittedly Moriarty-esque C, but the character feels more like a convenience than an essential part of the plot.
‘Spectre’ is no doubt a solid effort that delivers the thrills and easily entertains throughout its lengthy duration. But because it also proves capable of so much more, it leaves more to be desired.
Straightforward with its narrative, ‘Spectre’ is one of those films where what you see is what you get. Thankfully, what we see is pleasant and exciting enough.
'Spectre' opens 6 November 2015