Daniel Craig’s career as James Bond has been somewhat of a turbulent one. From a brilliant first outing in Casino Royale, to Marc Foster’s somewhat muddled Quantum of Solace, things only improved once director Sam Mendes took the helm with Skyfall – a truly excellent film.
Now Mendes and Craig reunite in 007’s next mission, Spectre, but is this fourth attempt as good as its predecessor?
Spectre follows the ever-confident Craig as 007 hops across the globe, trying to track down a criminal organisation whose desires are not at all clear – not until the finale that is. This genius piece of storytelling ensures the audience is kept guessing about what is truly going on right up until the final act, though a few, well-hidden signposts are dotted throughout.
A supporting cast that includes some bulletproof British talent in Ralph Fiennes as ‘M’ and Ben Whishaw as ‘Q’ only strengthens Spectre’s case as a quintessentially British blocksbuter – and a very well made one at that.
The beautiful Lea Seydoux is more than a match for the Bond girl tagline and despite her limited on screen time and lack of meaningful dialogue, manages to go toe-to-toe with Daniel Craig’s steely persona.
Throughout the film’s slightly overlong 148 minute running time, our agent is thrust headfirst into some truly mesmerising set pieces in locations across the world. From an intense car chase across evening Rome to a snow-topped mountain aeroplane journey, Craig revels in the practical effects and Spectre looks all the more real for it.
Mendes’ direction is completely on point here too. An absolutely brilliant tracking shot that lasts a good five minutes sets up the central premise to the film and acts as a cracking first scene before the obligatory ‘Bond song’ opening credits.
Despite Sam Smith’s less than sterling effort with Writing’s On the Wall, Adele’s Skyfall fared rather better, the credits are typical 007, with beautiful woman and an abstract, eerie atmosphere, as usual working wonderfully.
Unfortunately, the onslaught of Hollywood trying to do what us Brits do best, spies, somewhat lessons the magic this time around. As impressive as the stunts are, the Bourne series and Taken franchise have done them already, albeit with less style, and it’s a shame that, through no fault of its own, Spectre comes across as a little “been there, done that” because of our desensitisation.
Neverthelss, Spectre is cracking fun and proves that Ian Fleming’s original winning formula can transcend generations. With each new incarnation of the iconic character comes a new breed of fans and with films of this calibre, it’s easy to see why.
Is Spectre better than Skyfall? That’s impossible for me to answer because both bring something very different to franchise. Where Skyfall was new and untested Bond, Spectre delivers the old-fashioned thrills that made Connery’s era such a hit.
Is Daniel Craig the best Bond? You know, he might just well be.