Spectre review – loose ends leave Bond feeling lacklustre

Some things are timeless. There are patterns and traditions that develop, that are so effective and powerful that their repeated success is inevitable. Apple pie will always taste great. No one gets bored of Christmas. We always look forward to a new James Bond.

Film, of course, has developed its own set of pillars and foolproof skeletons that will always make for big hits. You’d think that a 23-instalment strong franchise with half a century’s blood, sweat and tears put into it just couldn’t go wrong. Well, call me crazy but Spectre has let 007 down.

It has all the elements to make it fantastic, and parts of it truly are. Christoph Waltz is a phenomenal villain, unsettling and charismatic, giving Bond a poisonous breath of fresh air and electrifying the screen. As ever, Bond navigates through breathtaking sets and the audience is spoilt with the grandeur of Mexico City and falls in love with London with a brand new set of eyes.

Some scenes do remind you of what makes Bond great – the cars were great and the explosions on point, so top marks for that. The final confrontation between Bond and Blofeld is chilling and does make up for a lot of the more shallow scenes with an intensity that is truly palpable. It does promise an exciting future for the sequels’ narrative development.But essentially the problem is that Spectre is clever, but not as clever as it thinks it is. Being the second child isn’t easy – try being the 24th. A lot of stops were pulled out to make the film jaw dropping, but there were so many half hearted attempts that it didn’t cause a lot more than an eyebrow raise.

Symbolism and iconic imagery is highly emphasized in Spectre, but never actually fully explained. It often feels empty and not actually explored after all. The trip to Mexico City felt less like a tribute to the dead and a metaphor for Bond’s existence, and more like a sophisticated stag do for Daniel Craig.

Call me old fashioned, but Léa Seydoux was just not credible as a Bond girl. Her Swann felt like an impersonation of a true leading lady. She wasn’t as resistant and cold and she could and should have been, and, like a lot of the film, felt a bit too easy.That and the fact that I couldn’t help but still see her between Adèle Exarchopoulos’ legs.

And what the hell was WWE wrestler Batista doing there? Surely that was an actual piss take?

So many ideas and plans were initiated and seemed resolved all too quickly and easily, making the whole film feel like a bit of a cop-out. In the past, I have been known to drift off and lose focus with Bond, but I raring to go with this one. And yet – I’m sorry but what actually happened? Can anyone tell me what Spectre actually does? And what is the big deal with the octopus? There are too many loose ends and sporadic metaphorical ideas floating around in mid-air, making what could have been a rich and deeply exciting film feel a bit flimsy and just quite ‘eh’.

I appreciate its self-awareness and the various winks to its heritage, but at times you did wonder if it knew what it was doing, or if it really was that embarrassingly cringe of its own accord. There’s only so many times that you can finish a fight scene with a bit of sexy time before someone calls you out, Bond.

I wanted to enjoy Spectre as much as I enjoyed its trailer, but it just felt wet and so underwhelming. How am I rolling my eyes at one of the most loved franchises in cinema and anticipated films of the year? Alas, I feel that Mendes got slightly too big for his boots, and although he had all the cards in his hands to blow everything else out of the water, he seemed to have just let them flutter away in the wind.

★★☆☆☆

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