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REVIEW: Spectre

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A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

Let me say that listening to Sam Smith's theme song for the very first time in the cinema is quite unpleasant, it just sounded like someone wailing uncontrollably. And the opening credits has cgi tentacles all over the place. We're off to a bad start.

As impressive as the opening scene is, where Bond chases 'Sciarra' through the Day of the Dead festival crowd, the fact that our hero thinks it's a good idea to punch the shit out of the pilot in an out of control helicopter, with a crowd of innocent people below, is baffling. The character of Bond feels schizophrenic as ever. I'm not sure what i'm supposed to think of a guy who, only after a minute of being acquainted, is bedding the widow (Monica Bellucci) of the assassin he killed earlier. And after a quick 'Ciao Bella' or whatever, she's not seen again. So much for the progressive choice of an age-appropriate Bond girl.

Mr White (Jesper Christensen) returns briefly as Bond pledges to protect his daughter, the fairly two dimensional Dr Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). Together they travel from Rome, Austria, Tangier to track down Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), leader of the mysterious Spectre, at his base of operations only a megalomaniac would be proud of. And yes, the big secret that isn't much of a secret, Oberhauser is actually Ernst Stavro Blofeld, pre and post face scarring.

There's plenty of fun nostalgia ahead with a brutal fight inside a speeding train with Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista), escaping a car chase using the ejector seat, escaping torture with an exploding wrist watch (of course, what else would it be!?) and then escaping the crumbling MI6 HQ by jumping into a safety net that came out of nowhere. Then it dawns on you that... this isn't anything new. Retro repetition, pandering, it's either what you want or what you dread.

The visuals are beautifully crisp and framed perfectly, thanks to director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema. Whether in frantic action scenes like the car chase on the streets of Rome, or dark indoor halls where the tense Spectre meeting takes place, it's what we expect from a modern Bond film. The score has moments of class but is mostly forgettable. Apart from one laugh out loud moment (during the car chase), the film is pretty much humorless, with little quips that didn't get much reaction from the audience.

Craig's run of Bond films suffer from an inconsistency in tone, direction and characters. Director Sam Mendes returns but there's still a lack of identity despite claims Bond is now 'Nolan-esque'. Did you want a return to over the top swagger of classic films after the modern but dire Skyfall? Well you're stuck between a rock and a hard place with Spectre. Go too hard edge, you get a Bourne clone. Go old school and you're left with a selfish, misogynistic pig for a hero. Never mind Daniel Craig, the whole franchise has run its course. All parody and little progress.


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