Hello Bond fans,
thanks to SwService, yesterday we were allowed to watch a preview of the upcoming SPECTRE (here in Italy it is coming to cinemas next week, on 5th of November), and here there is my review, without spoilers in it.
I’d like to start warning you: do not expect a Skyfall-part-two, this is a completely different movie, or if you like it, it is a proper Bond movie. So, make up your mind, do not expect too much psychological digging into the Bond character. There is obviously an emotional and deep layer, in the end it’s Mendes we are talking about, just it isn’t so exposed like it was in the previous movie. But let’s start from the beginning:
As we all know, the pre title sequence is set in Mexico city. Technically and visually stunning, it’s without any doubt one of the greatest, if not the greatest, pre title sequence of all the franchise. Alessandro Cremona, italian villain Marco Sciarra (it is odd that it’s name is spelled wrong, it should sound like Sharra in italian) has a strong performance, and the entire action piece confirms to be the greatest, as Michael Wilson said, even from a budget side. The photography is always one step ahed, bringing you for the first 5 minutes in a single tracking shot, following a preciously adorned day of the dead parade. Last but not least, a fantastic work by Jany Temime.
Next to the end of the PTS, there is a fantastic Title Sequence: the title song, disliked by some, perfectly fits inside an octopus-filled sequence that brings on the screen some of the scenes we already saw in trailers and tv spots. A very good job by Daniel Kleinman.
We are directly brought into London, in what probably it is the most anticipated scene of the movie. We have seen both Bond being reprehended by M and the brief dialog between M and C, portrayed by a marvelous Andrew Scott. It’s again necessary to report a fantastic shot of Bond walking through a circular courtyard. Moneypenny helps Mendes connecting for the first time Skyfall to Spectre, bringing back some stuff from the old destroyed house, letting 007 show us his flat for the first time since Live and Let Die in 1973. London scene continues, as we all saw again in the trailers, with Bond in the new Q cave: Mendes here managed to bring back an old Connerish relationship between 007 and his quartermaster. We really missed this old days, and these small things help the movie to gain that Bond feelings that a lot of fans didn’t find in Skyfall. Following a brief exchange between the two, Bond is off, heading to a new location.
New location is probably the best-looking of the whole movie: Rome. Some of the shooting Hoyte van Hoytema arranged here are worth of a documentary, with Bond, mainly inside his astonishing Aston Martin DB10, racing through the streets of italian capital. But even quite static shoots like the ones we get in the funeral scene, or inside a stunning villa with Rome view in the background, the crew seems to always find the right way to present us things and characters. I’m not going to spoil anything, as said, but I want to point out that the car chase is the best in the entire franchise, and that unfortunately we didn’t like Monica Bellucci, both for her performance that seems quite too much, and for the fact that her character is no more than a cameo, and we expected more from a so-anticipated role. Again in this stage, Mendes uses a clever tool to connect the dots. He sets a character, Moneypenny, who has the precise role to pull the stings. Particular mention to Mr Hinx revelation, a real classic-scary-henchman.
Next on the board there is Bond heading to Austria, to meet a old friend of us. After the brief encounter, following a white colour-palette, Mendes bring us to a modern building, a clinic, with a beautiful view of the austrian Alps. Here there is the first meeting with Dr Madeleine Swann. She is a psychologist, and in this scene Mendes subtly introduces the emotional layer, even if he appears to quickly throw away the “problem”, outdistancing himself from Skyfall while still exploring Bond’s mind and past. Another action piece takes place right after this, and we can see 007 following Mr Hinx with a plane. A returning theme in this movie is the big and bold action pieces, nothing comparable to the awful Brosnan kitesurfing scene, but still big and bold enough.
At the end of this scenes, we head to another location: Tunisia. Completely different types of shoots, reminding us of the Turkey pre title sequence: again Mendes tries to distance himself from himself by shooting something similar to the previous movie, but radically changing the way he does it. Seydoux stands out in this part of the movie, adding some depth to the character, maybe not too much, but still enough to make Dr Swann believable. Amazing, following the Tangier scene, the external shoots of the train, and better than that the train fight scenes between Bond and Mr Hinx. Probably the most important and revealing part of the movie, and this is why I’ll write very little about it, it’s mandatory to thank Dennis Gassner for what he did on the Tunisian layer: it’s minimalist and functional, but still enough frightening to make you hope you will never find yourself in a place like that. Again, in this phase, there is an hint of phsycological research inside Bond mind, in a way you don’t expect. Very good Waltz interpretation, maniac but without exceeding in it.
Last part is set back in London, and to not ruin you the experience, I won’t talk about it at all. I will only say that Andrew Scott has a terrific acting performance, confirming himself to be a very young-promising actor.
Overall, as said at the beginning, probably this is not the movie you could expect from Mendes, especially after Skyfall. Still, the only disappointed ones will be the ones who don’t have a Bond knowledge, don’t like big action packed movies and think that Bond is the one we saw in Skyfall, and not the one we have known in 52 years on the screen. Obviously, in the modern cinema, directors have to mix the two components, and even in a spy movie there should be more depth. Mendes delivers it in the most intelligent way he could, mixing the classic Bond, Moore and Connery style, with his Skyfall Bond. It’s probably the most classic Bond we ever had from Craig, that confirms himself to battle Sean Connery for the podium of the 007s.
Thomas Newman delivers a brilliant performance, easily adapting the songs to the movie and using both the James Bond theme and the theme song inside the score.
In the end, to me, this is probably the best Bond movie I ever saw. I really loved Skyfall, but this tops it, bringing Bond to a whole different level, and leaving us hoping that Craig will return to at least finish his arch as the most beloved agent on Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Go see it, and always remember,
Orbis Non Sufficit.