Film Review: Spectre

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux. Directed by Sam Mendes.

Bond is back. Back from the dead. Again.

After 2012’s most excellent Skyfall, Sam Mendes returns to the direct 007’s 24th outing, Spectre. Daniel Craig is back (with trademark pout) in the leading role, and as you’d expect there’s international travel, gadgets, guns, and Bond once again manages to completely obliterate every mode of transport he gains control of.

Spectre follows from the devastating conclusion to Skyfall, and sees our action man stood down by the new M (Ralph Fiennes), and microchipped to track his whereabouts. But of course, this doesn’t stop him stealing an expensive car from MI6, and driving off on an unauthorised mission to Rome and beyond – of course, destroying the multi-million pound (yes, we’re British) car in the process. I won’t go into detail into the plot of the film, because to be honest, it’s still a bit hazy and complicated. Interestingly, Mendes expects you to know plot points and characters from Quantum of Solace (one of my least favourite Bond films), but in essence this film is Bond taking on the most bad guy of bad guys and his evil octopus-inspired corporation Spectre.

For me, the biggest disappointment of Spectre is its lack of emotional depth. Skyfall milked relationships and backstory and emotions so well. Here, everything seems so surface level in comparison. And at 150 minutes, that results in a very drawn-out, yet shallow story. Characters appear for a short time and disappear for no reason, and the twists are often predictable. Bond is working solo, yet manages to find every character he wants to meet, and we don’t always find out why.

That said though, Spectre still thrills. There are some brilliant sequences. The opening piece sees Bond walking through a festival in Mexico City and the shot keeps rolling, through crowds, into a building, room, out onto the roof – it’s expertly shot. There’s dizzying helicopter and plane stunts, explosions, fight scenes, and plenty of excitement. We are taken to the stark deserts of North Africa, and the white snowfields of Austria. You can see how this film cost $300 million to make.

“THE DEAD ARE ALIVE”

These words open Spectre, in writing. Death is a big theme in this Bond film, it gets mentioned again and again through words, bad guys raise glasses and cheers to death, and the bad guy reminds Bond of all those who have died at his hand. One character says to Bond, ‘I knew death would wear a familiar face… not you.’

Yet with all this talk of death, I couldn’t help feel like the whole theme was underdeveloped. Skyfall was already a resurrection story, and now this might be Bond’s resurrection story following the loss of Dench’s M, but he’s still the assassin he’s always been. The dead might be alive, but what does it really mean?

The Bible talks a lot about death, and talks of the assurance of what happens to those who trust in Christ. I love the way 1 Corinthians 15:20-21 gives us assurance:

‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.’

The Apostle Paul doesn’t leave us with a vague understanding about death – he shows us that because Jesus has been raised from the dead, that all those who have fallen asleep (died) and have trusted in Christ will also be raised. It’s a wonderful assurance – check out the rest of the chapter for more. Spectre wants to go deep with thinking about death, but the real story is seen in God’s word. Maybe you could see Spectre with your mates and chat about why the film talked about death so much? What does it mean for us that the dead are alive? It could lead to some great conversations.

The Verdict: Spectre is a worthy entry into the Bond canon and has a hard task following the excellent Skyfall, but overall it is let down by its length and confusing plot. Mendes should have got some scissors and cut the predictable extension on the final act too. 3.5/5

Spectre will be released in Australia this Thursday 12th November. It is screening now in the US and UK.

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