SPECTRE directed by Sam Mendes (UK, 2015)
This movie is two and a half hours of pure Bond bunkum which starts promisingly but, unlike the superior Skyfall, is content to fall back on style over substance.
Daniel Craig with steely blue eyes and tight muscular body makes a good 007 and is as indestructible and unflappable as ever.
Realism is not the keynote of course but you would expect him to accrue a few designer scars or at least to get a few stains or rips in his clothes.
As it is, you cut him and he does not bleed, beat him and he does not bruise and he always gets the girl. Another unfathomable trick he pulls off is to be able to find an immaculate range of suits or elegant casual wear despite never carrying more than hand luggage.
His maverick mission is to crack Spectre (note the English spelling), a criminal organization which has infiltrated the heart of the British establishment with a cunning plan of using global surveillance via the Internet and wiretapping – sound familiar?
The opening sequence during the street festival for the day of the dead in Mexico City is spectacular but this sadly proves to be the highlight. Other set pieces – like a car chase in Rome, a fight on the train in Morocco – are less effective not least because the streets are strangely deserted and the train seems to have no other passengers!
At Spectre’s head is Christoph Waltz as the psychopathic megalomaniac Blofeld. Waltz is the star turn here but the final confrontation is anti-climatic and his part is woefully underwritten, You don’t go to a Bond movie expecting Tarantino-esque dialogue but surely a four-man team of screenwriters could have applied themselves more.
The supporting make the best of a bad lot with sterling performances from Ralph Fiennes as Bond’s long-suffering boss M, Ben Whishaw as computer nerd Q and Andrew Scott as the weazily enemy within C. The C stands for cocky or careless; this being family entertainment, the other C word is suggested but remains unspoken.
At the end Bond bottles out of seeing the job through so the villain lives to fight on. He says “I’ve got better things to do”, tosses away his gun and drives off with his latest flame – Dr Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux).
This line could be prophetic since Craig is on record as saying this will be his last Bond movie. Who can blame him? He and director Sam Mendes can surely find better uses for their talents.