Spectre Review

DISCLAIMER: This review contains heavy spoilers for the movie Spectre (2015). If you wish to read an abridged, spoiler-free review from me, click here.

My first Bond movie was Die Another Day, which I watched with my father when I was 9 years old. Looking back, it was a terrible movie. Just awful. The clichés were there, as was the terrible dialogue, uninteresting characters, and bad CGI. It was a sure sign that Bond needed a more realistic reboot. But nonetheless, I am drawn to the silliness of the classic movies, and when I came around to watching Spectre, I wasn't expecting such a tribute.

I got back from watching the movie 10 minutes ago. As soon as I got home, I turned on my computer and opened up the editor. Well, shall we begin?

The movie opens with a replica gun-barrel sequence that shows Craig walking against a white background. He turns to shoot at the audience, and the famous Bond theme kicks in. This was a trope that populated every single Bond film up to Die Another Day. It was slightly altered for Casino Royale and Skyfall, but makes a full return in Spectre. I like this. It was the start of a movie chock full of references to the classic era.

The opening shot, which is a continuous long take of about 3 minutes, depicts the Day of the Dead (a sort of Mexican Halloween holiday). In the pre-credits sequence, Bond is on a personal mission to kill a criminal, which he ends up doing by throwing him out of a helicopter above the skyline of Mexico City. It is here that I thought "Yep, this'll be a good movie". Pre-credit scenes in Bond films are always action-packed and exciting, so this didn't disappoint. Sam Smith's theme then kicks in as Bond focuses on a ring recovered from the fight. I had to roll my eyes. While not necessarily a bad song, I felt that it was a little boring for a Bond theme. Maybe I'm just mad it's not Adele's 'Skyfall'.

So, we have Daniel Craig on top form as Bond yet again for the fourth time now. I have a lot of praise for the man, especially since he's been doing this role for almost 10 years. I would say his best performance was in Casino Royale, but that doesn't mean to say he's bad in this. He isn't at all. 

Then there's the main Bond girl, Dr. Madeleine Swann, played by the ever so beautiful and seductive Léa Seydoux. I have to admit, I found her character to be rather forgettable. She has links to Quantum, and therefore a loose personal link to Bond, but the romance between her and Bond is so unrealistic. The film portrays them almost as star-crossed lovers, soul mates or whatever you want to call it. They've known each other for days and the L word gets thrown around a few times. I wasn't convinced by it at all, especially since Craig's Bond already knew love in the form of Vesper Lynd. To me, it seems disrespectful to Casino Royale to portray a deep romance that isn't between Vesper and James as such (the shower scene in Casino Royale, for instance, had a much closer emotional depth between the characters).

Then there's the MI6 gang; M, Q and Moneypenny. I absolutely love what they've done with Moneypenny for the new movies. She went from a background, flirty office-type, to a complete badass fighter that Naomie Harris plays. Let's not forget they get the best lines too (M: "I guess I know what C stands for... careless"). It was fun seeing Ralph Fiennes go head-to-head against Andrew Scott's C character, though it soon becomes painfully obvious about half way through that Scott's character is only there to make Fiennes be badass. It seems like a waste of good talent. Speaking of which, also seemed like a waste to have Monica Bellucci appear for 5 minutes to basically look hot and provide Bond with information that he could have obtained from numerous other places.

Then, there are the big baddies. Dave Bautista plays Mr. Hinx, who is basically Jaws from the classic movies. He gets to be a part of the best fight scenes in the movie. The train fight? Brutal. That car chase in Rome? Memorable and exciting. I expect to see Hinx make a return in a future film, as was the tradition with Jaws. I was most excited to see Christoph Waltz take the role of Blofeld. Before I give Waltz praise, let me just say that I hated the reveal of his name as Blofeld. It was cringy, and unnecessary. It was like the Khan scene in Star Trek Into Darkness. Does Bond have any reason to care that Oberhauser goes by a new name? Of course not. It's a nod to the audience, but it doesn't come off very well.

But yeah, Waltz really suits the role well. He looks the part, and can do 'evil criminal mastermind' when he wants to. The way the movie ended had me secretly thinking: "Don't walk away Bond, he'll be back with another evil plan". Speaking of which, I love the classical references this film made towards the Connery/Moore era Bonds. For example, the white cat in Blofeld's headquarters made me laugh. The classic Aston Martin. "Hildebrand" was cute. To me, it felt like this was Craig's traditional Bond formula film. The tropes are in place, but they're surrounded with the gritty tone that accompanies his era.

So, that's the spoiler version of my review. Basically, I enjoyed how the movie didn't seem afraid of jumping to sillier moments that are reminiscent of older 007 films. This one, along with Skyfall, are a big departure from the earlier Daniel Craig movies, which in turn were a departure from the Brosnan movies. Spectre teaches us that the James Bond series is a living, breathing component of cinema. Each movie will make a radical departure from the last, and for us, the audience, we just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.

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