James Bond is one of the best protagonists in the history of literature and film, and even though some of his film adaptations are silly and idiotic (e.g. Die Another Day, Octopussy, or the unlicensed Never Say Never Again), I have never found myself despising any of them. This is because merely seeing that classic character on screen always delights. In my opinion, we are not going to get a Bond film as great as Skyfall. It was the perfect combination of gritty realism, tense action, well-timed humor, and fanservice. If they stopped making Bond movies after that, I would agree that there would be no better place to do so. That is obviously not the case, as this month we got the highly anticipated Spectre. Spectre is directed by Sam Mendes and written by (a lot of dudes): John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth. Stars-Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista and Ralph Fiennes. Premise-After being forced to take a vacation by M, James Bond follows a clue that will lead him to the most secretive and dangerous organization on Earth: S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
Before I say anything, I must make it clear that this is an exceptional movie that you all should see. With that said, I do have many issues with it. The first of them being Léa’s performance. While not horrendous, it just felt like she was trying to act (it felt fake) throughout most of the movie (which doesn’t help during scenes where she and Craig are supposed to look in love). There are also many story elements that I take issue with. Remember: the story is the most important part of almost any production, especially films and television. Overall, this movie is decently written, however, there are many noticeable flaws. You have heard every critic mention how this movie relies on the pre Casino Royale Bond formula. The gun barrel sequence at the beginning of the movie, “shaken, not stirred” (which is a major continuity error with Casino Royale), the visit to Q Branch, etc. This could just be me, but I found these references and familiar plot points very enjoyable. However, this is still an issue with the movie because Spectre is part of the “revitalized Bond” series. Therefore, he (Bond) has abandoned those tropes in favor of a more grittily realistic style. Again, Skyfall handled this well, we still got some of those tropes (like Bond talking to Q), but they were changed up a bit (Q only gave him “A gun, and a radio.”), and that made the movie feel fresh and new. Because this movie follows the classic Bond formula to a T, it kind of dates this movie. Let’s talk about the characters in this movie. Monica Bellucci’s character for one. A lot of the marketing for this movie (at some point) mentioned Monica Bellucci (one of the most beautiful actresses in the history of man). Guess what (no spoilers)? She only has about 3 minutes of screen time, and she is credited as a secondary character! Come on man, ignoring the blatant false advertising (and manipulative tactics), screen time that short is more akin to a cameo than an actual character! Besides that, there was one major character decision which made absolutely no sense to me. At the end of the climax, Bond makes a decision (which I won’t spoil) which is straight up one of the stupidest character decisions I have ever seen in a movie! If you see the movie, you’ll know what I am talking about. Besides a few scenes that drag on, and the movie being a bit too long, nothing else really bugged me.
While it has its flaws, Spectre still has many great qualities. The direction is stable and fluent, Thomas Newman’s score is awesome (seriously, the guy is a BOSS), Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography is excellent, and the sound editing is incredible. Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” is a great successor to Adele’s “Skyfall,” and the action scenes in the movie are shot very well, and are very entertaining. The acting is also outstanding. Craig, Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Bautista and Christoph Waltz especially give great performances (and I think another Oscar is in order for Waltz). Even though I bashed many parts of the story, I did find myself incredibly satisfied with how many loose ends this movie tied up from previous Craig Bond films. Before I wrap this up, I have to talk about 3 specific scenes which blew my mind! The first being the opening. Another trope of earlier bond films is the opening action scene followed by the opening credits. The opening scene in this movie is outstanding! Most of it is just one long tracking shot, the cinematography is perfect, and the music is brilliant. The second scene is when Waltz’s character: Oberhauser is introduced. We got a shot of this in the trailer, but let me tell you, this scene is tense, well-shot, and perfectly lit. The third scene takes place on a train. Bond fights Bautista. This scene is quick, brutal, suspenseful, and pure awesome! I dare say it rivals the train fight scene in From Russia With Love (and that is no small feat).
Despite its flaws, Spectre is still a more than acceptable addition to the “revitalized Bond” series. Spectre gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B+.