There are some great locations, although nothing tops the pre-titles sequence where Bond is in Mexico during the Day of the Dead festival, which is visually spectacular and fits perfectly with the film’s atmosphere. Spectre is moody but not as miserable as the trailers would suggest. Some might lament the fact that the film doesn’t probe Bond’s background as much as the premise promises but then Bond stories have always been an excuse to hang nice set pieces, one-liners and watch pretty people in pretty locations. Some of the best set pieces involve the nasty violence dealt out by Oberhauser’s (Christoph Waltz) henchman (Dave Bautista) and indeed Oberhauser himself. I won’t spoil it but there’s definitely some moments of wincing. Oberhauser isn’t as inventive as past Bond villains or as psychologically interesting but it’s a step in the right direction. The Craig era has an unmemorable set of villains; Spectre acknowledges this by linking them all to one organisation called, well, Spectre.
Daniel Craig lacks sex appeal but is quite a likeable Bond- grumpy but only in a very British way, a humour that is very much rammed home by his dialogue. True to past Bond films, there is one really bad joke; an annoying businessman who wants to scrap the ‘00’ section of the Secret Service is dubbed ‘C’ by Bond. Andrew Scott as ‘C’ is very much the weak link; partly because the part is so lazily written and partly because he plays it exactly like Moriarty but blander.
Talking of bland, Lea Seydoux is little more than a clothes horse as Bond Girl Madeleine Swann. She gets to wear a beautiful dress but that’s about it. Perhaps this is one element of the classic series that could have been left in the past. Women are sidelined in the film; Naomie Harris has improved her performance as Moneypenny and initially it looks as if she might have a useful role to play but she essentially vanishes.
Bizarrely, Bond also vanishes in the second half. He initially is the main feature but the team of Q (Ben Whishaw), M (Ralph Fiennes) and Moneypenny, left to tidy up the pieces are more interesting. Fiennes pretty much steals the last half-hour of the film; all three actors have developed their characters beyond the brief introductions in Skyfall whereas Craig gives more of the same.
The film’s ending seems like a great opportunity for another actor to give something new to the role- having ticked all the remaining boxes, it is hard to imagine Craig doing another (although he undoubtedly will).