Every seat in Genesis Cinema is filled with anticipation, as the owner-dressed in a dashing tuxedo- announces the film that is about to be played. Bond is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The lights go down, and the buzz of excitement instantly converts into the silence of expectation. The film starts… The end credits roll. A half-hearted, pitiful applause whimpers out from a few members of the audience. Spectre was a letdown; a film that appeared to promise so much, but failed to deliver on the success of previous instalments.
The epicentre of this sea of ‘averageness’ is the weak script: where Skyfall focused on the primal emotions revolving around revenge and loyalty, Spectre is a convoluted narrative that jumps from set piece to set piece and (as an after-thought) throws in some post-Snowden drama. What entails is a mess of webs that has predictable plot twists and even more questionable narrative decisions.
It is only fair to say that there are aspects of the film that work. For example, the direction is crisp and, despite having a long running time, the film never feels slow. In addition Spectre is more action-packed than Skyfall, a fact that will satisfy some audience members.
Although clearly trying to disassociate himself from the role, Daniel Craig also provides a solid performance as 007. His ruff persona furnished with subtle wit is often on point and carries the film adequately. The same can be said of Ralph Fiennes’ portrayal of M: the actor is above average and provides a fresh dynamic for Bond to bounce off. Yet, much like Craig, Fiennes never really shines. Their performances are more akin to a fine set of curtains: although very pretty, you never really appreciate the extent of their significance.
On the other hand, there are some performances that do seize our attention. Firstly, the silent Mr Hinx, played by Dave Bautista, is an excellent amalgamation between the classic henchmen Oddjob and Jaws: the character serves as a physical threat for 007, and without words dominates every scene he is in. Also, Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann is a good ‘Bond Girl’ for as long as the script allows her to be. She often serves as an ideal foil for Craig and is at times his equal, an aspect that is a rarity amongst females within the James Bond franchise. But surprisingly enough the star of Spectre is Ben Whishaw as Q. The actor steals every scene he’s in; his wonderful comedic timing and a charming loveable persona form the basis for the majority of the entertaining aspects of the film.
However, the most disappointing aspect of Spectre is in fact the villain, a concept that I would have found inconceivable prior to watching the film. The fact is the script contaminates Waltz’s character and restricts how far the actor can spread his maniacal tentacles: How can you deliver laughable plot twists whilst also being intimidating? This is a real shame given the sheer potential Waltz had for greatness, and sadly what culminates is a Bond villain that is overshadowed by more complex previous antagonists.
It is somewhat ironic that a film titled Spectre would itself be haunted. There is no doubt that when viewing this film the ghosts of Skyfall and Casino Royale will appear in the cinema, and cause you to realise that your time could be better spent watching other films. Sadly Spectre is nothing more than an average Bond film that had the potential to be so much more.