Updated: Jul 7, 2020
James Bond is back in cinemas with the latest instalment Spectre following on from the successful Skyfall which I have previously seen. I had such a positive opinion of Skyfall that I was almost destined to compare the two.
In truth, until Skyfall, I had never seen a James Bond movie all the way through. It seemed likely that that would continue when Quantum of Solace came out which was a heavily criticised Bond film. I had no real interest in James Bond and the negative reviews for that movie kept me away. However, when Skyfall came out, something seemed to change. There was the usual hype around a James Bond movie but with so many positive reviews, I became interested in seeing it not for the sake of watching Bond but for the sake of watching a good, action-packed movie.
I ended up seeing Skyfall twice at the cinema. The first time was with my university friends in Portsmouth and I saw why this movie was so well-received by movie-goers and critics alike. So, when my family made plans to see it on a weekend I was returning home, I was more than happy to watch it again. However, I only realised how good the movie was the second time I watched it. I enjoyed it the first time but the second time I was able to really analyse and assess everything about the movie. It had gone from a good film to a great film in those two views. So, one of the most positive things I can say about Spectre is that I came out of the movie seriously debating if it was as good or better than Skyfall. At this point yesterday, I wasn't entirely sure.
In both Skyfall and Spectre, the movie is very aware of the cliches surrounding all Bond movies and uses that for different effects. Even I, as a James Bond novice, am aware of these cliches. There are some cliches that are explicitly referred to and then brushed aside and then there are some nods to classic James Bond films like martinis and the brand of car used. It was important for Bond to not fall into one giant, formulaic cliche of a movie. I remember an episode of The Simpson saying they enjoyed the James Bond movie because he (Daniel Craig) doesn't do any of the things that James Bond does. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xGyaQZfR_Q). While it was a joke, I think this was important for Bond movies to adapt in order to survive. By keeping the name of Bond, people know to expect a spy/action movie but not everything is so black and white with a James Bond film nowadays.
In both films, the action sequences were good, the villains were played convincingly and the story was engaging.However, after reflection, I feel ultimately that Skyfall had the stronger narrative for both the story and the villain's motivation. In Skyfall, Raoul Silva wanted to bring MI6 to its knees not just to create disorder and chaos, he had a personal vendetta against MI6 and its employees, particularly M for what had occurred in the past.
For me, Christoph Waltz's character falls slightly more into the generic bad guy with a less creative motivation for his actions. This is a shame because Christoph Waltz's mannerisms, accent and look all add up to the perfect Bond villain. He still did a very good job in Spectre but it feels like his character did not have as much presence as it could have done.
All in all, Spectre is a welcome addition to the Bond franchise and keeps the franchise on a high following the success of Skyfall. My nitpicking of Spectre in this review is only because I hold Skyfall in such high regard. Spectre keeps the fun, the action and the drama in Bond and is well worth a watch, not because it's a Bond film but because it's a great film in general.