James Bond 007 out of 10 – A Spoiler Free Review of Spectre
Spectre, Released in the U.S. on November 6, 2015 by MGM Pictures
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It’s no surprise that the latest James Bond movie is chock full of explosions, guns, and action. For over 50 years the franchise has excelled at epic set pieces, witty heroes, and elaborate globe hopping hunts for answers.
Spectre has actor Daniel Craig return as the suave secret agent James Bond, codenamed 007, for the fourth time since his debut in 2006’s Casino Royale. Starring alongside Craig is the enigmatic Christoph Waltz as the menacing antagonistic Franz Oberhauser.
Much of the film follows the pre-established Bond tropes of the suave spy fighting and seducing his way towards his arch nemesis’ lair accompanied by a beautiful woman who, of course, happens to fall in love with Bond.
Daniel Craig continues to play Bond as he has for the past 10 years — with the confidence and skill one expects from the secret agent. However, the audience can begin to see cracks in the facade. Bond has grown tired from the repeated missions, many of which end in some trauma for the agent.
Returning with Craig is director Sam Mendes, who also directed the previous film, the highly acclaimed Skyfall, released in 2012. Mendes is also notable for his work on the satirical art film American Beauty. He brings much of his artful cinematography into Spectre such as his sweeping intro scene of one long flowing take with no cuts.
Many of the previous recent Bond films were criticized for having plots that were too serious or too complicated; the story writers for Spectre seem to have realized this and embrace full campiness. Bond is chock full of witty comebacks bringing just enough humor to keep the audience amused.
The action is good as well with much of the muscle provided by Dave Bautista as Mr Hinx. Despite not saying much throughout the movie, Bautista manages to have a good presence and even provide one of the film’s more memorable entrances. Bond proves himself the action star as well with a blowout intro chase that works well with the camera. From the long take to the saunter across the roof to the slide off a building onto a couch, the camera captures every shirt cuff adjustment to every confident dusting of clothes. Even the action sequences are not distorted by the shaky cam so prevalent in films today. The audience moves with the fight, feeling every blow and punch.
The film is not without flaws, of course, and much of that lies with the writing.
Due to the Sony Pictures hack of 2014, an early, unreleased draft of the film was leaked revealing many possible plot points. To combat this, new storylines were written and changed. While Bond’s character stayed strong, others had their roles slip from leads to side members. Christoph Waltz’s role of the villain while introduced in a manner dripping with menace falls off towards the end of the film. Waltz is supposed to play the big bad, the greatest mastermind that Craig’s Bond has ever faced, but in terms of being a real threat, he never reaches the position he was billed as. Perhaps it is Bond’s ability to just always figure out the right clue, the exact secret entrance or maybe it’s just the evil henchmen being worse shots than Imperial stormtroopers.
There is a twist towards the end, but any classic Bond fan will figure it out as soon as the first feline appears on screen.
Ralph Fiennes as M feels flat as well with the writers missing some of the potential for more fierce lines for him while opposite C, played by Andrew Scott, who is typecast as another shady government official.
From the classic Aston Martin car to high class train ride, much of the set pieces come from the filmmakers appealing to nostalgia.
Many of Craig’s Bond’s plotlines are wrapped up nicely, resolving mysteries from previous films.
If you go into the theater looking for a nice action-y jaunt across the world with a charismatic British secret agent, I would recommend Spectre.
In terms of cinematography Mendes holds his own and gives many stunning scenes to captivate the audience.
This adaption of James Bond lives up to be a successor to the image Ian Fleming created and will continue to be an integral member of pop culture. While the villains may be overly evil and the plans outrageously complex, Bond films continue to evolve for the modern day and bring us new warnings for the future.
As long as the films continue their fun adventures, we will continue to see them.