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Spectre Review: beautiful but painfully slow

Film: Spectre – beautiful but painfully slow

Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig return for their second joint venture under the Bond umbrella. The veteran director also brings along talents like Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista and Christoph Waltz for this competent and deep ride.

After the events of Skyfall, the MI6 agency has been put under review and scrutiny in a bid to technologise the entire information network. Andrew Scott’s Denbigh is overseeing the unification of global intelligence agencies in a bid to survey everything. Meanwhile, Bond is on a rampaging path to track down an ominous villain pulling all the strings since Casino Royale. Enter Christoph Waltz.

Skyfall and Casino Royale have always been hard to top. Part of the reason Craig is so loved as the British spy is the stellar and amazing introduction he had to the character in the Bourne-esque Casino Royale. It was a letdown then when they released Quantum of Disappointment, which not only lacked narrative but also fun. That’s why Skyfall was such an achievement. It resurrected the character and delivered a beautiful and haunting finality to Craig’s Bond. Curious then, that Mendes and Craig have returned for, what looks to be, one final hurrah.

Spectre is film that jets around the world, highlighting some engaging performances and locations, but fails to lock down a pace. The film is terribly weighted with the first half swooping by without a check of the watch. But the film’s latter sequences, aside from Waltz’s giddy performance, drag and drag. It ends with a fizzle, rather than a bang.

But to say I didn’t have fun would be a lie. Spectre is a love letter to classic Bond films. It is one of the funniest Bond films ever made. It is the sexiest Bond film ever made. And it is the best-looking Bond film ever made. The first shot tracks through Mexico City’s Day of the Dead sequence without a cut – it is seeping and engrossing cinematography. And it is the cinematography that saves us from a lot of the film’s boring scenes.

Incidentally, Monica Bellucci’s character seems shoehorned in for the sake of another Bond Lady. The immense beauty could have been cut from the film and the pace would have been better for it.

Lea Seydoux, alongside Waltz, is the film’s standout. She has this quiet sensibility, bringing awe and sophistication to the character. Whilst I had a few problems with how the film handled the character and indeed the female majority, Seydoux’s performance was tantalising.

Much of the comedy and chuckling came via Ben Whishaw. Whishaw chooses to play the character like a posh IT boy and seeing him interact with Bond, the school bully, was hilarious.

Christoph Waltz was terribly underutilised in the film. Every second he spoke, every second his presence was felt and every second he occupied the frame was gold. His voice is fantastic, his tenor is cheery opposite Bond’s bland and calculated delivery and seeing what the film does with Oberhauser is really, really admirable but it may not play well with everyone.

The individual components of Spectre are there and confident for all to see. It’s stunning, visceral, emotional and stylish but it never feels fast or cohesive. Some subplots should have been cropped for better time and flow. Some characters and actors should have gotten more screentime whilst others were given far too much.

Spectre is Craig’s third best Bond film and it may be his last. Whilst Spectre may not be the bang he wanted to walk away from, it is a testament to the seriousness and engagement his tenure has mustered.

Score – C+

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