Spectre: More Johnny English than James Bond

Monday 2nd November 2015 | Sam

After making £40million at the UK Box Office last week, Spectre is now a record-breaking film... that does not mean it is a must-see film. Following the immense success of 2012's Skyfall, much was expected of the latest installment in the Bond series, however it seems to have buckled under the pressure of it's predecessor. 

Omega/ Spectre

With more corny jokes than a Harry Hill marathon, Daniel Craig's James Bond seems to have turned into a spoof of himself; almost Johnny English-esque. Now, I recognise that there has always been a light-hearted nature to the Bond films, but director Sam Mendes and his creative team seem to have spent more time thinking up shitty little jokes than into their weak, one-dimensional storyline. In fact, at one point, I expected a Bond from the future to warp in and warn us of impending doom (Austin Powers style)... sadly it didn't happen.

Austin Powers

I accept that a film has to be funded, and with the huge budget needed to create a Bond film, financial backing has to come from somewhere, but the amount of product-placement in this film would make the Superbowl proud. From the obvious close-ups of Bond's Omega watch and Aston Martin's to the Range Rover car chases and more subtle Heineken slurping, the whole film felt like a very long advert break - which is fitting as, at one point, much of the audience were chatting to one another instead of looking at the screen. Although, after seeing countless advertisements for various products (including Gillette razors) it is no surprise that product placement would have a big part in the film. 

Spectre is definitely one for the Bond fans... newcomers will be left out in the cold from the constant references to older films and characters, with supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld returning for his 8th film. It could be said that throughout, the past is referred to far more than ideas for the future - at one point, we are actually shown a (sort of) highlight reel of previous Bond villains and heroes set up by Christoph Waltz's Blofeld. As usual, Waltz is tremendous at playing a villain, with his always-calm, sinister-sounding German accent and macabre characterisation helping him deliver a rare spark of light in a relatively dull film.

However, this is merely the Oscar-winning German playing a character we have seen before in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, just with far less freedom due to Spectre's 12A rating. On the flip-side, there is some relevance in the subject matter of the story: the 'Nine Eyes' initative being brought into existence by Blofeld's puppet, Max Denbigh is a smart reflection of the Big Brother society we live in. Luckily the scheme was shut down by Bond after reading our list of 5 Reasons Why Governmental Surveillance is Harmful and Unnecessary.

Hans Landa

It's the 21st Century, and James Bond still seems to be stuck in the dark ages in terms of the representation of minorities. The white male is (of course) the dominant force behind the film, it has always been this way ever since Sean Connery brought the super spy to the screen for the first time in 1962.  For nearly 20 years, Judi Dench has portrayed the head of MI6, M.

However, after her death in Skyfall, Ralph Fiennes has taken the mantle, removing a key female lead from the film and replacing her with another white man. Moneypenny, another everpresent in the Bond films (played by Naomie Harris), plays a cameo-like role in Spectre with less than 10 minutes of screen time overall, and Bond's newest muse, Madeleine Swann (played by Léa Seydoux) starts off as a strong, independent woman, but inevitably ends up as mere putty in Bond's hands.

There has been much speculation over who the next Bond is going to be, with Daniel Craig seemingly bored of the role. One of the names which comes up consistently is that of British actor, Idris Elba... yes, a black man.

He definitely seems to be what the Bond films are missing - the only black people of note in Spectre are a group of South African governmental officials who oppose Head of the British Secret Service, Denbigh's 'Nine Eyes' iniative to share intel between countries, but eventually change their minds after intervention from the Spectre group... hardly a positive portrayal. Moneypenny is the other black character of note, but as I have already said, she has such a small part in the story that she may as well have had a cameo part.

Naomie Harris - Moneypenny

So yeah, I can't force you not to go and see the latest installment of Bond, but if you must, make sure you brush up on your knowledge of previous Bond characters beforehand. With it's lack of vision for the future (other than setting up another obvious battle against Blofeld), weak uninteresting characters and reliance on comic relief, the Bond films needs some new life blasted into them ASAP. Idris, we need you!

Idris Bond