James Bond will forever be in our movie memories as one of the greatest action series of films ever made. This film adds to this greatness. -TE (11.21.15)
Sam Mendes returned as director for the fourth installment of the Daniel Craig James Bond series. With everything from questions of how long Craig would be doing this to what a huge budget the film had, there's lots to discuss.Arguably the best place to start, lets talk about the beginning. Production values are imminent from the opening shots. Although there is hardly a cut or a word for the first five minutes, there isn't really anything special that happens. And this ends up taking a toll when the run-time is just under 2 and 1/2 hours. There's some cool helicopter stunts (with some disbelief of reality put aside), but I still consider this action sequence only the third best. And then you also have to talk about Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall." His voice is fantastic and the relevance of the animation in accordance with the story is appreciated, but there's some lacking quality that doesn't seem to fit in with a 007 film. And the animation overall didn't strike me as impressive, so I still rank this theme as third best as well.Spectre attempts to tie in the previous films into this plot. I guess there's points for effort, but it doesn't really have a huge emotional connection to pull it off. And there were multiple instances where a scene could've been tidied up or even cut entirely. But no. This movie just had to make it to 2 1/2 hours. It's just really long and a little draining.I think I was still fine with the film up until a snowy mountain sequence where Bond ends up driving like this cargo plane. And as problems arise, the sequence goes into the most Pierce Brosnan-esque style of action-- so over-the-top that it's just like c'mon man.Lea Seydoux adds a nice touch, and Monica Bellucci certainly adds a bit of a surprising element for Bond Girls. Really have no issue there. And then fans of Sherlock will recognize Andrew Scott in the film. Having gained attention as Moriarty, I was intrigued to see him step into a different role... That didn't happen. Pretty sure the producers told him to act almost exactly as Moriarty had. The result is nothing surprising, which is a disappointment and also a little frustrating.But lets talk about what had the most potential overall for the film: Christoph Waltz. After having Javier Bardem kill it as the villain in the previous film, I think Waltz is an excellent choice to bring new elements. But this is easily the worst aspect of any Daniel Craig Bond film. Which pains me so much to say because there's a good deal of build-up. His introduction has great camerawork and lighting, and it creates a mystical veil around the organization and his role behind it. And this lasts for lets say 8 minutes. Then the movie basically forgets about it for a good hour. He's brought back, and it could still be very interesting despite a drop in fanfare. But what was supposed to be a tense, high-production action set-piece is set back with a surprisingly boring backstory for the villain filled with ideas that say "This is the bad guy and he's bad and he does bad things because he's bad" and unbelievably predictable action. And I guess they make it appear he's dead, but everyone knows that's not the case--even if the run-time is padded already. The climax reminds me of Mission Impossible Rogue Nation if that climax was also filled with cliches. And what I mean by that comparison is that Rogue Nation kind of has their climax setup like a heist, and you don't really feel any tension because you feel like it all is part of the good guys' plans. Spectre is similar to this, and the ignorance and stupidity that leads to the demise of the villain makes me think that the writers just couldn't think of any other logical possibility for a death.Spectre isn't all bad, like the returns of Ben Whishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as M were very welcome, but it's a very flawed film that certainly had potential. You can find this review and dozens of others at gillipediamoviereviews.blogspot.com
This might not be the best Daniel Craig Bond, but it is a great film none-the-less, a visual and auditory feast, which is let down by its script, which could have brought further clarity to what is an emotionally impactful story. Firstly, the film is technically and artistically stunning showpiece. It continues the Bond globe-trotting experience. Each location is worthy of acclaim. From the opening Day-of-the-Dead sequence in Mexico City, to the closing credits, Spectre is striking. I'm not just talking about the static scenery either. The action is well-choreographed, suspenseful. and, given Bond's penchant for against-the-odds survival, the set-piece moments finely toe the line between 007 and over-the-top outrageous. Even in it's most frenetic, the action is visceral and not reliant on obvious cgi, so 'believability' ultimately wins out. Similarly, the music elicits a awesome and suspenseful chord. There is a constant undercurrent that builds the films tone of looming, pervasive background threat. On that note, the villain of this film is a throwback to Bond of old but represents a greater universal fear, anxiety brought on by all-seeing-eye of the information age. MI6 too is under attack, by threat of irrelevance, by way of technological progress, and some key architects of this progress. Bond's character is shaped by this impending threat, and the villain looming in the background. HIs tragic existence as a 00 agent is brought into light here. Bond wrestles with the demon of profound loss, his loved ones jeopardized by the life he chose to lead as an agent. As we come to learn, the film's villain is somewhat like a puppeteer, pulling the strings behind Bond's life and loss. At first glance, this does a disservice to Bond's story, alleviating his guilt by giving him a clear scapegoat for his pent up grief. But, as we come to learn, this connection is not arbitrary, but crucial to Bond's upbringing. As in Skyfall, we are given just a glimpse into Bond's past, of a time when he more human than agent. If throughout the film Bond appears traditionally disconnected, stoic, and dangerous, defined by his desire for cheap thrills of women, drink, and violence, at the expense of those he cares for, that guise in more transparent than ever, and in the cracks in his facade, we glimpse the humanity he wrestles with. For despite his roguish actions, Bond's fondness for Money-Penny, Q, and M, as well as his reverence for country and honor, are on display as well. He brings the crew into his world by bestowing upon them trust. He allows them to help him, a rarity for a man who built his life and career upon distrust in the world and others. Though this display of trust, Bond reveals his true colors. These MI6 relationships are the backbone of the movie, heightened by excellent work from Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, and Ralph Fiennes. Ultimately, despite all that I enjoy about this film. I can't help but feel the the script relies too heavily on cliche and ambiguity. I ask: Would it have better served this film to make the storytelling a bit more transparent to the viewer through richer dialogue and character motivations? Spectre's deeper themes may rely too heavily on visual language and extended metaphor to usurp the one dimensional traditional Bond tropes on display . On the other hand, this film is a sensory experience, and perhaps the ambiguity of the scripting and superficial gloss serves to reinforce the themes at play. As one must look beyond Bond's obvious actions to understand the man inside, the viewer must search beyond the film's veneer to uncover the emotional resonance.
This is a sequel to SKYFALL. Bond battles "the author of all his pain" as his secret past is revealed. An international organization plans on uniting all the top intelligence agencies in order to combat terrorism. However their goals are not benign nor are their methods honorable. Bond has his hands tied by his own agency as he operates in a semi-rogue fashion.The film gives us plenty of over the top action, Bond girls, Bond lines, Bond car and the Bond drink. I don't recall the casino. It shows the evolution of a man. It also shows us why men like Bond are obsolete in the modern world of intelligence gathering and drones....or does it?Perhaps it is me, but the film seems to changed to have more action than drama.