STORY: James Bond is hunting the terrifying ‘Pale King’ – but what happens when Bond discovers the villain is a shadowy spectre from his own past?
REVIEW: So, Spectre is one of Bond’s most thrilling action movies – but also one of his most ghostly, reaching into an eerie past. James Bond (Craig) is chasing ‘The Pale King’ (Waltz), head of criminal group Spectre, perpetrating terror on nations, forcing them to buy Spectre’s massive surveillance network. Tracking the villain who killed his first love and first boss, Bond reduces parts of Mexico and London to rubble, smashes cars, helicopters and a plane, battles hideous heavy Hinx (Bautista), beds sultry Mrs. Sciarra (Belucci), nearly drinks vegetable juice and meets Madeleine Swann (Seydoux) – who downs dirty Martinis and shoots deadly hard.
But what happens when Bond finds The Pale King is Blofield – a shadow from his own past? And when the new ‘M’ (Fiennes) faces top bureaucrat Max Denbigh (Scott), who believes the ’00’ department – and democracy – must bow before drones.
Can Bond save the world? And the ’00’ program too?
Spectre features haunting cinematography, pale, misty lakes, snow-clad hills, helicopters gleaming like malevolent wasps, wicked shadows on glass walls. Traditional Bond imagery – golden roulette wheels, blush-red casino carpets, silky gowns falling upon ivory floors – are replaced with starker, darker shots.
The action leaves you breathless as choppers burst, cars drown, a plane explodes on a Christmas cake landscape and Hinx breaks necks – but while Spectre’s hand-to-hand is thrilling, its tepid mouth-to-mouth, Bond’s kisses censoriously chopped, leaves you feeling the world is certainly not enough.
Happily, Craig pleases, part-swagger, part-shudder, drawling one-liners – “I think we’re supposed to be impressed…” – with wry aplomb. Ben Whishaw presents the cutest ‘Q’, Naomie Harris imbues Moneypenny with bouncy life while Fiennes pulls off an ageing agent, each character carrying smartly-tailored dialogues.
But the story has long, loose threads, including Blofield linked to Bond’s babyhood, plus references to murdered dads and lost loves. Literary allusions couldn’t be heavier, ‘Madeleine Swann’ straight out of Proust, emphasising remembrance while debating detectives versus drones. Looking back too often loosens the ground under Bond’s feet now – this could’ve been much tighter, as could be Waltz’s mildly mincing Blofield.
However, a few moans aside, Spectre’s action still shakes and stirs, leaving you loving its oak and leather, champagne – and dynamite.