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Spectre: Review

Spectre: Review

Sam Fearnley reviews the latest James Bond

The latest James Bond film, Spectre, is making pretty big waves in the British – and international – film markets. In the UK alone, it made over £40 million in its first week, beating the record set by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Not that it needed that type of media buzz anyway – I have Daniel Craig staring at me intensely from almost every bus I see.

The film starts with Bond walking through a ‘Festival of Death’ in Mexico’s capital. He begins to seduce a woman, leaves through a window, shoots at the bad guy and brings down a whole building. It felt like a whole Bond film before Sam Smith had had a chance to serenade us over the opening credits.

Once the film gets underway, it becomes clear that Bond may be in slightly deeper trouble than he previously thought. He is sent on a mission to track down a sly character, by a posthumous message from M. The story takes him from Mexico through Rome, Tangier, a meteoric crater in North Africa, and of course, London.

Some of the most illustrious and iconic parts of any Bond story are the fight scenes, but these were lacking in originality throughout most of the film. At one point, Bond is flying a plane next to a convoy of cars, trying to stop them. It was the perfect opportunity to amuse the audience, be it by a certain comic or shock factor, but it all fell slightly flat.

The ending is probably one of the best parts of the film. As a fan and resident of London, I did rather enjoy spotting those places and buildings I’d visited. That’s a very niche reason to enjoy the film, but by this point I was bored, or more accurately, confused, by the plot, and could not deign to carry on concentrating.

I feel as though they could have used London’s odd collection of buildings to create a unique couple of scenes, but, again, I was more than satisfied to just look at pretty pictures.

Overall, I found the film to be adequately enjoyable: not disappointing, but not enthusing me either. My over-arching criticism would regard its rather predictable but engaging plot and script. I found myself finishing the characters sentences in my head before they had finished talking. Perhaps this is a very particular issue for me, but I think many people go to see films for a sense of the unexpected – something this film failed to deliver.

None-the-less, it did include a lot of interesting story lines, and some great effects. I also can’t fault anyone’s acting. Specifically, I thought Léa Seydoux was great. She captured the essence of her character perfectly: a strongly independent, intellectual, mature and collected young woman. I almost wanted to hear more about her backstory, but, alas, it was somewhat necessary for the plot for her to remain reserved when asked to talk about her past.

When we left the cinema, one of my flatmates – who had never watched any of these most British of films before – did not fail to notify me of her angst that the movie failed the Bechdel test. The test, designed to highlight the lack of prominent female characters in films, is passed when a film contains at least one scene where two female characters converse about something other than a man. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a scene where two female characters talk about anything, homme-related or otherwise.

I may be posing a contentious point here but I feel as though this film places doubts over whether or not there is space for Bond these days. Marvel’s meteoric rise suggests people still yearn for spies and action, but I can’t help feeling Bond is becoming old-fashioned. He needs more than just the superficial upheaval that the probable loss of Daniel Craig will bring.

Featured Image Credit: Official James Bond poster

Sam Fearnley