Spectre

Spectre ★★★★

Spectre directed by Sam Mendes, who becomes the first director to return for a consecutive film after John Glen with Licence to Kill in 1989, is the 24th entry in the series and follows Bond as he goes against the global criminal organization SPECTRE headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who plans to launch a national surveillance network to mastermind criminal activities across the globe. Daniel Craig returns as Bond, giving a more relaxed and cool performance which I quite liked and seeing him in a more Bondian adventure is simply fun. Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld waltzes through the role and is quite good apart from not quite changing his demeanour no matter what the circumstances around him are, resulting in a Charles Gray-ish performance.

Léa Seydoux as Dr Madeleine Swann is a solid character and I quite liked Seydoux's performance and am interested in seeing more of her in the next film. Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris as Q and Moneypenny along with Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner are superb though are used actively more than what we would expect them to be. Ralph Fiennes as M proves to be a worthy successor to Judi Dench's incarnation and has some awesome moments with Andrew Scott as C, the head of the new Joint Intelligence Service who aims to tear down the last vestiges of the Secret Service. Dave Bautista as Mr Hinx gives a speechless but towering performance that easily makes him one of the best henchman in the series. Jesper Christensen as Mr White is good to see returning from Quantum of Solace and becoming the first actor to appear in three films of the series as an antagonist. Monica Bellucci is hypnotic and mesmerizing as Lucia Sciarra and like Sévérine in Skyfall, isn't present in the film much and I would have loved to see more of her character in the film.

The gorgeous cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema evokes the warm and auric beauty of 20th century cinema and films such as Strangers on a Train and The Conformist but does use the clichéd Yellow tint, one that is specially reserved for all the tropical nations of the world in the otherwise masterful Day of the Dead pre-title sequence that contains a smooth long take which never feels gimmicky but immerses the viewer into the film and the plot about to unfurl. The action sequences are superb and don't try to be different than other entries which does not bother me as much. The score by Thomas Newman is once again marvellous but does use a lot of cues from Skyfall in the action sequences that drag this one to inevitable comparisons with its predecessor. The title song "Writing's on the Wall" performed and co-written by Sam Smith, which won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song, is perfectly serviceable and doesn't bother me as much now as it did during the first viewing.

Watching this film now detached from the hype and anticipation for the film in 2015, I found it to be a good film and appreciate the fact that Mendes made a fun Bond adventure that has all the Bondian aspects for fans to love instead of trying to top Skyfall which sadly I never got back then. I think it does get unfairly bashed for not being Skyfall Part II and being more of a Bond film than a film with emotional stakes but ultimately I believe the point of Skyfall's ending was that Bond had (finally) become Bond and has a fitting close to his arc starting from Casino Royale? Sure the MCU-style connecting all the films and the villains together and Blofeld having brother issues along with him plugging a promotion of his book "All Your Pain" is wonky but still wasn't as terrible I remembered it to be. I was dreading July 31 as I knew it was the day when my revisitation of Bond would come to end and "Atrociously Boringly Baddy Bad" Spectre was the film. 2012 Vaibhav would have given Skyfall a 5 and 2015 Vaibhav would have given Spectre a 3 but 2020 Vaibhav has decided to give both a 4 for better or (four) worse. I can now safely say that I have a newfound appreciation for this film and can't wait to see what the future has in store for 007.

James Bond will return in No Time To Die.

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