Movie Review | Spectre (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Freda Cooper 28.10.2015

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Spectre (UK Rating: 12A)

It has been impossible to ignore the 24th James Bond movie - trailers, glittering premiere, interviews, and countless product endorsements - and now it's actually arrived in cinemas. With Box Office takings topping £6 million on its first full day, it looks set to be even more successful than its predecessor, Skyfall, but does it cut it as a Bond film?

Spectre has a surprisingly straightforward storyline, with 007 following a trail left by the now-deceased M (Judi Dench) in an attempt to track down the organisation behind his most recent enemies, as well as the deaths of several people close to him. There's also pressure from MI6, not just because he's gone rogue again, but because there's a move towards international co-ordination of security that means the 00 programme is being closed down - all of which means that the new M (Ralph Fiennes) and Bond himself could both be out of a job.

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Much of the early Spectre reviews talked about a jaded Bond, one who's tired of the whole espionage gig, although that only really manifests itself in the final part of the film. There is, however, a very strong sense of a man haunted by ghosts from his past: the original M, of course, but Vesper Lynd, as well, and his enemies. That sense of harking back to the past also appears in another form - his old Aston Martin, looking as if it's seen better days.

Bond being Bond, audiences do expect three things: action, gadgets, and beautiful women. On the action front, it opens with a great sequence filmed during the Day of the Dead procession in Mexico City, and all looks great until the action moves skywards in a helicopter, which is where the joins start to show. Given that the budget was an eye watering £200 million, viewers are entitled to hope for something more impressive and consistent. There's a race against time at the end that works nicely, and in-between are plenty of car chases and punch ups, yet for all that, this is a comparatively talky Bond, but thankfully that turns out to be a plus point, because the dialogue is full of the characteristically flippant humour that everybody knows and loves.

The gadgets, though, are in short supply and mainly under the control of the loveably geeky Q (the perfectly cast Ben Whishaw). Instead, the emphasis is on computer technology and surveillance, all of which ties in with a major theme in the film, that of security in the post-Snowden era. The beautiful women are Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux, but Bellucci is sorely under-used, appearing in just a couple of scenes, and while Seydoux is allowed some action sequences of her own, it's undermined by her damsel in distress routine later on.

This is not exactly a full house, then, although visually it is something of a spectacle, from the Day of the Dead procession, with its skeletal costumes, to some stunning locations, including Tunisia, the Alps, Rome, and good ol' London… and probably the most stylish funeral ever, with people dressed in black against a totally white background. Very Italian, and very chic.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
As an action thriller, Spectre is a solid, good looking film. As a James Bond movie, there are lots of the right elements, but it doesn't rank as a classic. Perhaps part of the reason is the all-pervading hype surrounding it. After all, when expectations are raised so high, it's almost impossible to meet them. It really is possible to overdo the marketing, though, Sony…

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