Spectre – New Release Review (Spoiler Free)

It has its moments but Spectre is chiefly underwhelming and disappointing…


It’s with a truly heavy heart that I have to write these words but Spectre is not the film we all hoped it would be. I was so excited for this new installment, not simply because of how good its predecessor was but also because they seemed to have credibly brought the evil organisation S.P.E.C.T.R.E back from the grave and were going to treat them seriously and make them a genuine threat. Let’s just say it doesn’t quite live up to that. Whereas Skyfall was a true blaze of glory this is just a whimpering, uninspired walk through the motions. Something of a colossal disappointment and an insult to the previous three films it has built itself upon.

Let’s start out with a few positives here… the opening scene is great with some stunning edge-of-your-seat action, Ben Whishaw is a scene-stealer and it’s a good-looking film. Lea Seydoux brings skill to her role but is let down by her script, a script which on the whole manages to keep your attention even whilst you’ll rarely find yourself thrilled by it. That’s about all the positives reeled off… The problem is that it feels very patchy, as if the script has been cobbled together from several early draft ideas and then sort of fashioned into a whole. Nothing flows, there is no real connection built between us and the characters and the villains lack both definition and menace, which frankly is the last thing one would expect from a film named Spectre. Also, as is to be expected, the film continues the current approach of psychoanalysing Bond, however unlike its predecessors where that felt somewhat justified and insightful, here it is rather meaningless and alternates between being aggressively in your face whilst embarrassingly underdeveloped and then is forgotten about when characters make decisions that don’t make any emotional sense.

But if the film’s plotting and characters are left lacking then that opening scene promises some spectacular action, right? Wrong. Save for one fight scene between Bond and a henchman, the action doesn’t hit home. It doesn’t excite, it doesn’t ever really get involving and it certainly can’t be taken seriously when it has goofs and gags interspersed within it. I’m not talking about the kind of humour displayed in Skyfall when he jumps on the back of the tube train or about classic Bond oneliners, that’s all great stuff. No, in Spectre the action scenes are peppered with oddly juvenile moments and uninteresting visual gags. The action is often just the wrong side of unbelievable or it’s just not very exciting. It’s weird to watch a Bond film like this.

I wanted to love this film, hell I would settle on liking it but the honest truth is that this isn’t a good Bond film. It does a much better job of having a purpose and drive than the flawed Quantum of Solace did, but whereas that film was just directionless, Spectre commits a far greater sin for Bond fans, really trampling on the character and its history. I cannot talk in detail here to preserve spoilers but the villains plan is so predictable and uninteresting that it is severely disappointing and the personal angle which has been mentioned so much in the build up to the film is just horrible. Really, really horrible and nonsensical. I sort of wish S.P.E.C.T.R.E had never been resurrected now. This personal approach makes me think a ten year old must have written some of this script, a ten year old who was trying to be clever with its metaphors and symbolism but who frankly doesn’t realise just how insultingly simplistic a portrait they are painting.

Some of the film works, I’ll give it that, but frankly it’s outweighed by its failings. I know this isn’t the case but it felt like an easy paycheck for everyone involved in which ingenuity and energy gave way to standard Bond tropes which don’t really convince or excite. Its ties to the previous Craig films are weak and its cleverness is badly thought out. It’s a severely disappointing entry into the franchise and its repercussions will be felt throughout the next few films.


Spectre is open in UK cinemas now, are you planning on seeing it? Am I completely wrong? Let us know in the box below!

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18 comments

  1. Great write-up, and how disappointing for Spectre. I knew Skyfall would be very hard to beat, but I never imagined it would be that bad. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, to be fair the negative reviews are in the minority as most people so far seem to have really enjoyed it. But for me it was pretty lifeless.

  2. Bookmarking this to read after I’ve watched the film!

    1. Good to hear! Would love to get your perspective on this one…

  3. That’s sad to hear you didn’t enjoy it that much. I’m still excited to see it though and offer my thoughts.

    1. I very much look forward to getting other people’s thoughts on this one, especially yours my friend. I hope you enjoy this one more than I did!

      1. I’m a huge Bond fan so I’m confident I’ll like it, but it’s good to see you give a balanced take.

        1. I’m a huge Bond fan too… I hate having to write such a bad review!

  4. How incredibly disappointing! I was so looking forward to what should be fantastic. Well done on your review.

    1. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news! There is every chance that you will like it more than I did though.

  5. Yikes! Not what I wanted to hear.

    1. I think mine is the harshest review I have read, a lot of people loved it so you may wind up disagreeing with me!

  6. Oh geez, this is shocking. James we often share the same palate for films and how things are executed so now I’m quite worried.

    I think one of the major concerns is how much the hype train once again devalues the product we ultimately get. It’s really not fair to filmmakers, and it’s squarely on the shoulders of marketing/ad people who love love love to build up expectations — that’s their job. They could care less when they go home after getting paid to do such a thing.

    But some parts of this review I see as being independent of that; sounds like the writing mishandles the core of who James Bond is. That’s aggravating at the least. I still will be hugely anticipating my turn to see it but I’ll temper my expectations just a little bit.

    1. I hate to bring this news to you but hopefully by tempering your expectations it will mean you get far more out of this one than I did!
      Frankly I would love it if you could come back to me and convince me that I’m wrong, I want nothing more right now than to believe the hype and the other reviews I have been reading but I just can’t get behind the decisions made in this film.

      1. I’ll definitely let you know man. Something inside me from early on kind of made me think this doesn’t quite have the chops to beat Skyfall. Skyfall was really, really, really good!

        1. Yeah I think it was one of the absolute best Bond films ever! Casino Royale is right up there too in my opinion.

  7. Saw it the other day and my review is up for you to read.

    1. Looking at it now!

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