What if everything in the Daniel Craig era of James Bond movies led to something bigger, more resolute? All the death and destruction from Casino Royale to Quantum of Solace to Skyfall, what if there was something that connected everything and Bond is finally exposed to something menacing that lurks in the shadows? These questions are ultimately answered in the 24th James Bond film titled Spectre.
The future of MI6 is at a crossroads, especially the 00-program courtesy of a man named Max Denbigh, played by Andrew Scott, and Bond certainly isn’t making things easier for M, played by Ralph Fiennes, but Bond is on to something bigger when he finds a man named Sciarra and connects him to this wide-reaching yet sinister organization led by a man named Oberhauser, played by Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz, who strikes a chord in Bond’s memory.
Bond, accompanied by the fetching Dr. Madeleine Swann, played by Léa Seydoux, set out to uncover the terrible truth about Spectre before their wicked schemes are set in motion, which could pit the future of global security in their hands.
Sam Mendes’ previous Bond film, Skyfall, set the bar extremely high for Bond films to come, especially Spectre. Is Spectre as good as Skyfall? No, but it has all the classic motifs and trademark features to classify it as an homage to the classic 007 features known by fans of the franchise and I enjoyed Spectre because it felt familiar to the classic Bond movies.
Despite all the turmoil and the uncertainty of the future with the character, I’m a fan of Daniel Craig as James Bond and in watching Spectre you get the feeling that his journey with the character is coming to an end yet the door is open for him to return if he elects to do so. I hope he does return-in fact, I believe he is under contract for one more James Bond movie-yet I completely understand if he should walk away.
The returning cast including Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Jesper Christensen, they do as well as can be expected considering we know them in these roles already.
The cast of newcomers including Waltz, who may not give a Hans Landa-level villain performance but is satisfying-particularly when the (not-so)-unexpected twist of his character is revealed-from start to finish. The Bond woman Lucia Sciarra, played by Monica Belluci, and the Bond girl Dr. Swann, played by Seydoux, give adequate performances, yet Stephanie Sigman’s character is kinda left high and dry. Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx may not have any speaking lines but he is an imposing figure in the feature, derived from many iconic henchmen villains from classic Bond lore, such as Jaws.
The thing to understand about Spectre is the theme is staunchly different compared to the theme of Skyfall. In Skyfall, the overarching theme is that Bond is back and I believe that that theme was derived from the turmoil the studios were facing during pre-production and when the film was greenlit, they were trying to bring Bond back with a bang and did so splendidly. With Spectre it was a touch different.
In Spectre, the ghosts of Bond’s past, particularly the ghosts in the Daniel Craig era, they are resurrected to steer his character towards something that connects everything together and I found this a very cunning device for Sam Mendes to use, a thoughtful gesture on his exit from the Bond series.
I think the writing of Spectre was very proper. John Logan, Neal Purvis, Jez Butterworth and Robert Wade truly did well in creating continuity from the previous Bond films to lead to something rather significant and I think the writing of the film makes sense. Sometimes the writing of the film opts to take the easy way out and thus compromises the film’s integrity, but there was no lasting damage.
Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is superb. The opening Dia De Los Muertos sequence is a fluid and seamless long-take/tracking shot and he truly flexed his creative muscles at balancing giving Spectre artistic beauty yet honing in on the raw slam-bang action that comes with a James Bond film. Lee Smith’s editing is adequate enough to showcase what Hoytema caught on camera but the skills to edit this movie don’t measure up to getting the footage on camera.
To recap, I classify Spectre as a traditional James Bond movie, that is more shaken than it is stirred and I encourage readers to see it if they haven’t done so already. It isn’t Skyfall. Skyfall set the bar pretty high, but it is worth seeing and it has a lot of the classic James Bond tropes.
Sidenote-This review is something of a milestone for me because I started this blog after my mom gave me the idea to blog about movies after we left a screening of Skyfall three years ago. How far we’ve come!