Film - SPECTRE

SPECTRE

Steve Taylor-Bryant was shaken, and a little stirred with a dash of spoilers, by the James Bond film SPECTRE, out now on DVD and Blu-ray...

What is a James Bond film? I think it's important to ask yourself what it is you expect from a Bond film before viewing SPECTRE because it's not what you are used to. There is a basic recipe a Bond film has to follow and SPECTRE does that with aplomb:

Huge opening scene - check

Stunts galore - check

Bond girls - check

Stunning locations and backdrops - check

One liners - check

Gadgets and cars - check

Great song - er...

So why are so many people not enjoying SPECTRE? Well to start with it's not Skyfall, which seemed to grip both fans and casual viewer alike, although I preferred Quantum of Solace, and it's not really a Daniel Craig Bond film; if any of his appearances are a reboot then it is SPECTRE. Whilst Casino Royale may have introduced a tougher Bond for the 21st Century and brought along the fans of the Bourne franchise, SPECTRE does something even smarter - it ties in Craig's first three outings and lands us full circle at the beginning of Bond back in the day whilst adding a nod and tribute at every turn. This is most definitely a fan film made by a fan, a really expensive YouTube montage if you like.

From the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration at the very beginning of SPECTRE, with its Octopussy carnival mask look, the film has a familiar feel. You've seen it all before but you haven't if that makes any sense at all. There is a modern story of information gathering and technology that brings spying right up to date and runs throughout but there is also the argument of whether the old school 00 programme is obsolete or not and this is both welcome and as standalone a story as you're going to get as the plot twists are fifty years in the making. There is Bond on a revenge mission and not necessarily doing as he's told and he's never been more Timothy Dalton. There is the big henchman that rarely talks and the speculation that Dave Bautista would play Jaws before the film was released wasn't that far off the mark as his character, Mr. Hinx, is most definitely a Richard Kiel tribute act. Moneypenny is back at her secretary's desk, M's loyal servant, and when Bond comes for a meeting all that is missing is the Connery hat toss. Speaking of M he's back in his Whitehall digs, the damaged MI6 building being due for demolition at any moment, with all the traditional wood panelling and, with Ralph Feinnes channeling Bernard Lee in speech and look, the 00 programme is most certainly back in its Dr. No humble settings. Q is still a computer geek but his dingy surroundings are more what you'd have expected from Desmond Llewelyn and there's even an old school Q feel to the upgraded Aston Martin DB10 including an ejection seat. Then we come to the clever bit, the piece of writing that takes Bond through its 50 odd year history as well as tying Craig's run together - Blofeld!

Blofeld has been building in the background and everyone from Le Chiffre, Vesper Lynd, and Quantum's Mr. White, who finally ends his story in SPECTRE, have all been Blofeld's puppets. The explanation of why Blofeld is James Bond's archest of enemies is believable and well fleshed out as a Blofeld origin which now allows the Ernst Stavro Blofeld of Thunderball and the like to take their rightful place in the Bond timeline. We even discover the white cat, see Blofeld torture Bond and find out how he got his scar! And then we're back in Whitehall, the modern MI6 of Dame Judi Dench's time obliterated, the reboot is finally complete with Bond riding off, girl in tow, in that most classic of Aston Martin cars.

The action was as stunning as you'd expect and, in the main, SPECTRE is a beautiful film to look at, albeit a couple of dodgy obvious CGI moments aside. The acting is what you'd want with the main cast impressive. Feinnes really has brought back an M that could fit any film in the history of 007 which was a tough ask as Dench had been the best thing about Bond for a long time, Naomie Harris brings an edge to Moneypenny in the field but looks comfortable behind the desk, and Ben Whishaw as Q is a fine replacement for Llewelyn. If some reports of Daniel Craig now leaving the franchise are to be believed then SPECTRE is certainly a great send off, and even feels like his goodbye in parts, and he will rank highly amongst fans I'm sure. Not many multi film Bonds have had four successive strong outings and a lot of that credit must fall on Craig's shoulders. Andrew Scott was okay as C, if not just a watered down Moriarty, but Christoph Waltz steals the show as Blofeld. His calm manner and cheeky, almost confused look, add a layer of evil to the incarnation and not many stars would have been able to take on the mantle let alone the pressure of an origin piece for cinema's most famous bad guy.

SPECTRE is a Bond film, it may not be the one you expected though. If you have any interest in the story of Bond from the very beginning then SPECTRE is most definitely for you as we see the tale go full circle. If you don't like clever writing and multiple plots in a Bond film then maybe SPECTRE won't give you the same enjoyment it gave me and maybe I can recommend Moonraker for you?

Image - IMDb.