Opening a full fortnight earlier than its planned debut in North America, the early reviews for Sam Mendes’ much-anticipated spy sequel Spectre have found their way online – and they’re a mixed bag.
Arriving in the seemingly inescapable shadow of 2013’s Skyfall, the director’s clandestine follow-up was always going to be fighting an uphill battle, and these early, somewhat divisive reactions are emblematic of those weighty expectations.
Universally, though, every outlet was full of praise for Spectre‘s much-touted opening sequence. Orbiting on the famed Mexican Dia de los Muertos celebration, the production drafted in hundreds of extras, two daring helicopter pilots and scores of stunt coordinators. The result is, apparently, one of the best pre-credits segment in MGM’s prestigious series.
Without further ado, though, here are some early verdicts coming out of the film’s UK premiere.
Consequently, there’s a little more room in “Spectre” for Bond’s customary hobbies — globe-trotting, red-blooded lady-killing and cold-blooded not-lady-killing — than in the comparatively contemplative “Skyfall.” The tone is set by an enthrallingly, expensively ludicrous opening sequence, set in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, that ranks among the great 007 intros.
If nothing else, the spelling of the title should tip you off that this is a thoroughly English movie franchise. Bond is back and Daniel Craig is back in a terrifically exciting, spectacular, almost operatically delirious 007 adventure – endorsing intelligence work as old-fashioned derring-do and incidentally taking a stoutly pro-Snowden line against the creepy voyeur surveillance that undermines the rights of a free individual. It’s pure action mayhem with a real sense of style.
Often sublimely, sometimes awkwardly, Spectre contrasts harshness and humour, violence and suspense, warmth and stark coldness. The ingredients that go into the Bond formula don’t hang together quite as successfully here as they did in Skyfall, and at 148 minutes, Spectre feels a touch too long. But Spectre more than satisfies as a big-screen spectacle, and among the superb performances from the top-notch cast, it’s Craig who again carries the day. His Bond is reliably flinty and dangerous, yet he also gives us the impression that every exploit the agent’s lived through is bearing down on his soul.
Suffering in a similar vein to Quantum of Solace, which followed on (in a narrative sense) to the preceding Casino Royale – Spectre isn’t as accomplished a feature as Skyfall was, and perhaps should have avoided connecting up to what came before, which tends not to work well in Bond, generally better when left as entirely unique, self-contained pictures. Spectre may be the most expensive Bond ever made, and is even the longest too – but sadly, it’s by no means the most fulfilling.
Spectre launches in the UK in October 26, before making the jump across the pond and slinking into US theaters on November 7.