In the modern era every new Bond film has to walk a slender tightrope. Give the people what they want and yet also give them something different. The vodka still has to be shaken but also given an ironic twist to make it feel relevant. In this respect ‘Spectre’ is a very modern film. Instead of the Bond movie you might expect, it plays out more like an ensemble piece. Think of ‘Spectre’ as being more like ‘Mission Impossible’: no more the tale of a dangerous lone wolf but now one where he is the leader of a pack.
This time Bond is mired in the age of the conspiracy and surveillance. He is tracking down Spectre, a shadowy, sinister organisation responsible for organised terrorism. Christoph Waltz delights in joiningg the Bond cast however, when the final reveal comes as to his charcter’s true intent it’s more a case of suspicions confirmed rather than real surprise.
Where ‘Spectre’ does excel though, is in the performances of Lea Seydoux and Ben Whishaw. Both of their turns are grounded in a rare reality where Seydoux plays a Bond girl not to be tossed aside and Whishaw acts more like Bond’s conscience than his armourer. In fact Ben Whishaw’s Q is so good that he nearly steals the movie, such is his dry wit and humour. As Bond, Daniel Craig is ever solid but the compelling hurt and pathos that raised ‘Casino Royale’ up to such heights isn’t allowed much rein here, so consequently there isn’t much acting for him to feed on.
You could say that the sardonic, unrepentant bastard who was licensed to kill has finally been retired – and some cases he needed to be – but in ‘Spectre’ I missed the risk taker. I missed the man faced with impossible odds and seemingly didn’t give a damn (even though you secretly knew he did). ‘Spectre’ is a solid Bond film but it just falls short of the high bar that ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Skyfall’ have set. In-between them ‘Quantum of Solace’ may have seemed like a needlessly over-complicated story but it certainly had more Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.