Spectre [IMAX]

Spectre was an entertaining, action-packed and generally fun film that tried to tie up all of Daniel Craig’s past Bond films into a neat little bow. However, Sam Mendes and John Logan tried too hard to do both that and re-capture the magic of Skyfall, such that it succeeded in neither.
Comparisons with Skyfall will be expected, and just like Sam Smith’s Writing’s on the Wall is a paler shade to Adele’s Skyfall, Spectre too failed to excite and engage as much as its predecessor. And it is not just the plot, unfortunately even the cinematography (by Hoyte van Hoytema here), Thomas Newman’s score and Christoph Waltz’s villainy all failed to match the high standards set by Roger Deakins, Newman himself and Javier Bardem.

The film started off great. That was the best part and it gave hope that Spectre will be better than Skyfall. That opening sequence – especially that long tracking shot by Mendes – was outstanding. The action sequence too was the best of the whole film, and even in comparison with all that were in Skyfall.
Smith’s title song surprisingly worked a lot better in the cinema with the classic Bond montage than over the radio, and it all really set the bar quite high.

However, from that point on, the film got too entangled in its own lazy narrative. <mild spoilers> Writers Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth (the first three wrote Skyfall) created a Hydra-esque organisation to account for  the past three bond films and it was lazy <end spoilers>.  Everything became too neat, too contrived and not really well explained.
There could have been such a rich mine of character development for both Craig and Waltz based on how they wrote Waltz character. But that chance is all gone and wasted now. Pity.

Similarly, Bond himself broke no new grounds here. There was not any emotional depth in his character unlike Casino Royale and Skyfall. The same could be said about the other characters. M, Q, Bill Tanner and Moneypenny were all there to service the plot; maybe except M.
Mendes and van Hoytema filmed some pretty scenes together and the action choreography was exciting (and thumped up by Newman’s more aggressive music), however, they were not adrenalin-pumping or edge-of-your-seat types. At 148 minutes, it also featured a number of downtime moments which slowed the pace down too much with no service to the plot. Even the sex scenes felt sterile and boring.

Tom Ford is really getting a lot of promotion out of this. But, damn!, that guy has impeccable tailoring (for Craig).
Craig has embodied this Bond persona, and he has mastered that trademark smirk and sneer that we have all come to love. Sadly, he was not given much juicy material to play with. And whatever he had, Craig is not that nuanced an actor (yet) to sell what is not spoken.

Lea Seydoux is the lead Bond girl and like most of the recent Bond girls, she is not a pure damsel in distress. Similarly, her backstory sounds tragic and rich, and Mendes really did manage to get her to show us that.
Waltz was creepy, but not in a scary sort of way like Bardem. More like creepy psychotic – like his character in Inglourious Bastards. He did the best with what he was given but we never really understood him or cared much about him – which was a waste of such an important character.
Ben Wishaw is a great Q. Funny, snarky and loyal. Wishaw had great bantering with Craig.

Ralph Fiennes had big shoes to fill and he did a great job. He was equally intimidating as a boss and as an adversary.
Poor Naomie Harris was relegated to the background here.

Andrew Scott was smarmy. From the moment he came on we knew he would be a player but his motivations were so cliché.

Monica Bellucci looked great for her age and for that brief cameo.
A genuinely entertaining thriller that looked and sound good in an IMAX, though not really necessary, that tried too hard to be as good as its predecessor but just fell short.


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