Spectre is an interesting film to review because it succeeds at being what most of the 24 Bond films are but it fails at being what in my opinion the two best Bonds films , Casino Royale and Skyfall were- emotionally compelling. It’s a solid Bond movie but it just doesn’t have that layer of complexity the earlier films in the Daniel Craig Bond films did. To me at least those films succeeded because Bond felt like a real person with emotions and feelings, which made the action much more engrossing because it was happening to someone I actually cared about.
Most Bond movies aren’t so rich but are silly action movies with quippy one liners, cool gadgets, ridiculous stunts and beautiful women. You get all of that in Spectre but I was a little let down by Sam Mendes’ latest offering because I wanted more than that. The previous movies spoiled me! (In fact, I picked Casino Royale as my action movie choice to introduce someone to film in this fun post here)
In Spectre we even get the martini shaken not stirred line when in Casino Royale he is asked that and says ‘Do I look like I give a d…” I prefer the previous but I guess it makes sense when Casino Royale was supposed to be a prequel or an origin story for Bond. I suppose he has been growing into the agent we saw in earlier incarnations of the character. Too bad…
But that said, let’s talk about the movie we did get, not the movie I wanted. The plot to Spectre is very similar to Mission Impossible 5. The movie starts out with a dynamite sequence in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead celebration. The action is terrific with sweeping pan shots and a helicopter fight scene that blew my mind.
James Bond is hunting down a secret organization called Spectre from a clue that he found from the M played by Judi Dench in previous films. When he returns to London the 00 organization is being merged wtih MI6 and the new M played by Ralph Fiennes is having to deal with C played by Andrew Scott who Sherlock fans will recognize. I liked them both in their roles
James is supposed to stay in London but through the help of Q and his cars and gadgets (more of that kind of thing in this than the previous films) he makes it to Europe and then South Africa to investigate the Spectre.
Along the way James meets a woman named Lucia played by Monica Bellucci and then the main Bond girl Dr Madeleine Swann played by Lea Seydoux. They are all fine but again the typical old school Bond girl, nothing more. There’s nobody even close to Rebeca Ferguson in MI-5.
The villains are a big disappointment. So far I have yet to see a great Christoph Waltz performance (his Tarantino films are too violent for me) but it really isn’t his fault here. He is off screen for most of the movie and when he was there it was a standard campy Bond villain with elaborate ways to kill people instead of just shooting them. There’s also one of those old school Die Hard style bombs with the digital read out. Are those ever going to go away? Dave Bautista literally says one word and is the more predominant force trying to stop Bond. They do have an amazing fight sequence on a train so that was entertaining but hard to feel bonded to a villain who doesn’t talk.
There were times when I got a little bit bored and like in MI-5 there are a lot of plotholes and moments where you scratch your head wondering ‘how did they get here? How did they know to go here? How did they survive that?” Perhaps that wouldn’t bother me if this hadn’t been the 7th movie this year asking me to take such silly action leaps and again the previous films were so good! Sigh…
Anyway, Spectre is what it is. It’s an old school Bond movie with some good action, some silly banter and beautiful women. If that’s your thing than you’ll probably like it. If you are hoping for a little more depth than you might be disappointed.
As far as content there is some sensuality in two scenes and a lot of over the top action and fighting. Minimal profanity so base your viewing of the film on how offensive you find the Pierce Brosnan or Timothy Dalton Bond films.
Also the score by Thomas Newman felt very old school Bond as well.
Overall Grade- C+ (which I remind you a C+ means I thought it was slightly above average)