The new James Bond film, ‘Spectre’, wasn’t as good as 2012’s Skyfall, but it was not bad. It was more a sequel to the last film rather than a stand alone movie with a new story. It touches on some of the classic Bond tropes found in all the films and even brings back a long lost classic villain but drops the ball on some of the plot, the romance, and the gadgets. It might not be the best film of 2015 but it does continue the renaissance of the Bond films with Daniel Craig.
The film begins with a fantastic single shot opening sequence that finds Bond in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead. It reminded me of the long shot Quentin Tarratino used in Kill Bill Volume 1 before the fight scene at the House of Blue Leaves against the Crazy 88s.
The opening sequence then ends with a fight on a helicopter and then the screen fades into the titles with the theme song sung by pop star Sam Smith. I wasn’t impressed with the song. They seemed to try to repeat the vibe of Adele’s Oscar winning song for Skyfall and Smith’s voice just seemed to make the song sound closer to Sheryl Crow’s Tomorrow Never Dies or Duran Duran’s theme to ‘A View To A Kill‘.
I also thought the titles were kind of creepy with a shirtless Daniel Craig being pawed by the dancers. I think this is the first time James Bond has shown up in the title sequence like the dancers.
The main plot has Bond going off book, again, causing international incidents, again, being suspended, again, then winning ‘M’ and the rest of the crew to his side, again. It seems like a broken record but it is the Bond formula. It can get repetitive but I don’t mind it too much.
One big difference was the return of ‘Spectre‘ as the main evil enemy after a long term copyright problem was resolved in 2013. This then made the other evil enemy groups in recent films like Quantum, for example, are now linked to ‘Spectre’.
That was a change I liked. It returned the villain story line to the classic Ian Fleming vision.
I liked Léa Seydoux as the main Bond girl for this film. Seydoux played a villain in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and she holds her own with Bond in this film. Her character was not the typical damsel in distress, she was closer to Halle Berry’s ‘Jinx’ in 2002’s ‘Die Another Day’ but without the obvious deadly skills.
Christoph Waltz brought his ‘A’ game to the worst kept secret in Spectre as the leader of the group, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. I really believed he could be an evil human being who would kill his own father due to jealously of the orphan his father took in. Very creepy guy.
Where I did see some shortcomings was in the plot, the romance, and the gadgets.
I noticed long stretches of no action scenes. After the explosive opening scene I thought the action would get more intense but it really didn’t at least not consistently.
If you have a car chase and have time to have a phone conversation with Moneypenny and have a couple of funny bits included then the car chase is missing something. Not even an ejection seat climax could save it.
The fight on the train in Morocco wasn’t very creative either. It was like a series of crashing through wood panel walls. Dave Bautista, who was the bad guy for that fight, is a former wrestler but he does know mixed martial arts so it would have been different to see some of that style of fighting.
One of the main plots of national intelligence being taken over by the ‘Nine Eyes’ program came off as a rehash of an episode of the CBS TV show ‘Person of Interest‘. It seemed like Bond’s job was on the line but like when trying to kill him, that plan failed like they usually do. I don’t really think they explored that part of the plot as much as needed for the film.
Another problem I had was Bond’s interactions with the women in the film. I love Monica Bellucci, who played the widow of Marco Sciarra and her bedroom scene with Bond was hot but just as they are about to move to the bed there is a cut to Bond getting dressed to leave. The same thing happened when Bond and Dr. Swann finally hooked up. They start to tear each other’s clothes off then *Boom* cut to the next day.
I miss the classic Post-coital chit chat in bed and with it missing Spectre’s “love” scenes seemed a bit off. The film didn’t lack time to show those scenes so I’m not sure why it didn’t.
Finally I noticed that except for the new car and a watch, there was little gadget action in the film. They even took the time to return Q to his classic hidden underground environment but he had little to contribute from his shop. As much as they try, computer hacking just isn’t as visually compelling as a watch that explodes or the Ballpoint Pen grenade seen in ‘GoldenEye‘.
Even with the issues in the film noted previously I did like it. It wasn’t as good as the Skyfall but was entertaining enough to be a good entry in the film series.
Now that Spectre and Blofeld are back I hope the next film, with or without Daniel Craig, offers a new story and one not so tied to recent films.