Let me start by saying that I have not seen every “classic” Bond movie, and this is a movie that is clearly a love letter to 007 fans who have enjoyed the classics. I have watched the other Daniel Craig films, and absolutely loved Skyfall for its exceptionally good villain, twisting storyline, and legitimate loss at the end (I heart Judi Dench). Spectre is an exceptional classic James Bond film, but it is an oddball Daniel Craig James Bond film. The movie is filled with classic references, including a well-crafted, intense train fight that calls back to From Russia with Love, and the return of perhaps James Bond’s greatest nemesis. Not only is his visual style a blend of previous film incarnations (Blofeld’s been in at least six other movies), but he’s also given a more personal wrinkle with Bond’s past. Does his character work? Mostly, yes, but compared to jkljl; in Skyfall, he doesn’t come across as threatening even if he is “the architect of all Bond’s pain.” Maybe if he had been mentioned/teased more in the previous films, he would have earned the “final boss” status more. However, the friend I watched this with had no idea who Blofeld was, so there was real payoff, and unfortunately that works against the movie for people who only know Bond from the last decade of movies. Also, his actual world domination goals are sort of unclear due to the focus on his relationship with Bond.
More than that, what rubbed me the wrong way was how mostly predictable the plot was. I mean, duh, Bond’s gonna save the day, but the actual story beats were following older Bond films that sometimes seem a world apart from Daniel Craig’s reboot series. We had the tough right-hand man of the villain (hi, Dave Bautista!) fight Bond in a duel, we had the random Bond girl encounters, a car filled with gadgets, and even the supervillain giving a monologue while Bond is caught in a deathtrap, allowing him to escape. James Bond gets drilled in the head, then without any side effects (I’d get a refund on that drill set, Blofeld) and then runs through the base like a video game, blowing up an entire structure with one shot. This would have been gold for a Pierce Brosnan or Sean Connery, but it took me out of the movie seeing Daniel Craig do this. Also, compared to Craig’s other films (particularly Casino Royale and Skyfall), we don’t get a lot of actual emotional moments, with no big character losses or just an honest glimpse of the stifled emotional side of Bond.
Now with all that Negative Nancy stuff out of the way, let’s go over what was great about this movie. The cinematography is spectacular as usual, with the long opening shot in Mexico City’s Dia De Los Muertos festival one of many highlights. And geez, the train fight and Rome segments were pretty. Everything is tightly shot, paced, and acted. The effects look great, whether it’s Bond escaping a collapsing building or a pyro-pleasing fireball of an exploding secret base.
Sherlock’s Moriarty actor was a welcome surprise (yes I’m sure the actor has a name, but he’s Moriarty to me), but he seemed a tad underused, maybe just because we’ve all seen him do so much more when given the chance. Ben Whishaw as “Q” is a highlight again with all his bantering and dry humor with Bond, and the new “M” and Moneypenny are do their job but won’t stick out in my memory. Daniel Craig does his job, but my take on him might have been tainted a little by his very public boredom with the role. Yeah, poor Daniel Craig and his hard life. Earning millions of bucks as a movie star playing in film’s longest running franchise. Maybe the suits are too tight. I guess that could get old.
While I didn’t enjoy this as much as the last film, please don’t think I hate this movie. The last twenty or so minutes made up a lot of ground with the final showdown in a location that evoked so much nostalgia for Craig’s other movies. Not to mention even a bit of closure for Bond- is this actually Daniel Craig’s last film? I don’t know why but I thought he had one more in the contract. Anyway, this won’t be a Bond film for my collection, but it’s at least one good experience in the theater. It looks great, sounds great, but lacks the freshness and heart of his other films. I guess you could say Spectre left me slightly shaken, but not stirred.