Tuesday, 27 October 2015

REVIEW - SPECTRE (SAM MENDES)


'The dead are alive' proclaims Sam Mendes' Spectre, the 24th official James Bond film in which the preceding 23 seem to rise from the graveyard of history and reassert themselves. Spectre is like a grand resurrection, and fitting too, given the film's foreboding tone and overall obsession with death. Bond is torn down on this tour of his past, both personal and cinematic, emotionally and physically pulverised as any one of many buildings whose crumbling demises are captured here. There's the constant threat that the same might happen to our hero, though it's more a tease than a threat. In similar spirit, Spectre is unexpectedly enjoyable, shot through with lightness and humour, even in its most intense of action sequences. The throwback style supplies the charm, its application - suggesting the culmination of a career - supplies the dread, and the former somewhat undercuts the latter by the end, as Spectre eventually amounts to rather less than it promises to be. It's slickly made, with powerful and purposeful action and excellent tech creds, but the constant revisiting contributes to a feeling that we've seen all this before. Even the plot is modelled on too many old Bond films, with every twist and turn signposted if not by obvious foreshadowing than by our expectations. But if those expectations are met, then so too are all of our expectations, from the negative - a regressive stance on gender politics, not least in light of more recent Bond films - to the positive - rich, grainy cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema, blistering sound design and a much-improved score by Thomas Newman.