Film Review: Spectre

Spectre

Latest James Bond instalment Spectre is a competent and entertaining addition to the series. Perhaps most exciting of all is the possibilities the film affords.

A message from the past sends James Bond on a mission to uncover a sinister organisation. As Bond tries to get to the man at the root of the organisation, M is battling to save MI6 in London…

Sam Mendes’ second Bond film Spectre sees many of the stylistic devices as its predecessor Skyfall. However, there are also marked differences in this latest instalment of the franchise. Known for their spectacular pre-credits sequences, Spectre comes up short in this regard. Whilst the setting is ripe with potential, the sequence itself is rather lacklustre. It is only as the film progresses that the reasoning behind this becomes clear.

Spectre follows the usual Bond pattern of a mission leading the protagonist to exotic locales in dangerous circumstances. All the hallmarks of Bond are present; the gadgets, the stunts, the beautiful women. Yet Spectre feels slightly different from other Bond films in the Daniel Craig oeuvre.

The last three Bond films seemed to concentrate on building the character of the protagonist, with Skyfall in particular focussing on the man and not the mission. Spectre continues this trend to a certain extent, with weight on the decisions made by Bond. However, the film is much more about building a suitable adversary for the spy. Harking back to earlier films in the Bond franchise, Spectre delivers an antagonist worthy of Bond.

There seems also to be a conscious homage to the Bond franchise with almost overt references to From Russia With Love, The Living Daylights, For Your Eyes Only and others by way of action sequence. The score and theme of Spectre are a bit disappointing, but there is some nice camera work in the film’s opening.

Daniel Craig reprises his role with the same emphasis on physicality. Ralph Fiennes’ delivery is good, whilst Lea Seydoux preforms well in an interesting role. Monica Bellucci is underused, but Christoph Waltz is as compelling as ever.

Not an outstanding Bond film, Spectre nevertheless is a fitting follow up to Skyfall. Furthermore, it offers two enticing possibilities as to what may come next.

Film Review: The Tourist

The Tourist is not a good movie. What it promises with its attractive cast and glamorous locations, it fails to deliver with ludicrous plotting and a lack of suspense when it is really needed.

Frank, an American tourist, meets the beautiful Elise while on a train to Venice. She encourages Frank to spend time with her, but little does he realise that she is trying to throw police off the scent of her most-wanted beau. Frank’s life is put in danger, as he is pulled further into Elise’s world…

The Tourist seemingly attempts a cross between a James Bond film and a Hitchcockian thriller. Sadly, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film gets close to neither. Whilst the initial premise calls for a suspension of disbelief, by the end of the film any attempt at verisimilitude is entirely thrown overboard. The NeverEnding Story looks like a slice of gritty realism in comparison to The Tourist.

There are a number of narrative twists in The Tourist. These become ever more incredulous as the film goes on. The idea of Elise apparently fooling the police by sitting with someone who looks like the man they are after is riddled with holes. The wanted man, Alex, has only been missing two years, so it is questionable why the police think his appearance would have changed so much. Unfortunately, with each twist the story becomes more farcical, finishing with a conclusion that is highly problematic and unconvincing, to say the least.

Furthermore, The Tourist lacks the charm that could have made all the plot holes more forgivable. The small attempts at humour fall flat, and there is a lack of tension in the action sequences. There is never any really sense of danger for the protagonists, thus the boat and rooftop chases seem tame as a result. The Tourist fails to build momentum when it is needed; the ball scene feels less like a climax given all the twists and turns.

The characters featured in the film are not especially believable, or convincing in their behaviour. Although Elise is beautiful, there is never the indication that her and Frank really click. There is not much time donated to their initial conversations, so it is hard to see why Frank would risk his life for someone he happened to meet on a train. Shaw, meanwhile, is the hammiest of villains, thanks to some lazy writing.

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie are both good actors, yet lack chemistry in The Tourist. Given the script, it is surprising that either one of them signed on to star in the film. Jolie is very attractive, but the constant head-turning and fawning in The Tourist is both unrealistic and tiresome. Perhaps the only bright spark in the entire film is the appearance of Timothy Dalton in a small role. The Tourist, nevertheless, is a long way from The Living Daylights.

Even die-hard fans of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie will be hard pushed to describe The Tourist as a decent watch, or a good career choice by either of the leads. A disappointing film.