“Spectre” is a film I did not see at release. I had heard criticism that it was convoluted and the worst of Craig Era so I had no desire. With the newest Bond film coming out though I thought I probably should to get some context at least…and it was better than expected. It never reaches the levels of great for me as it has some of the problems prior Bond films have that kept it from that, but it is still good. If you have enjoyed the prior films in this Franchise, chances are you will enjoy this one too. This film has an all star cast and that helps so much to carry the story.
The film was directed by Sam Mendes and written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth.
The story follows Bond (Daniel Craig) when a posthumous message from the last M (Judie Dench) leads Bond to an unauthorized mission in Mexico City to follow-up on a conspiracy.
The Soundtrack -Thomas Newman is one of my favorite composers and it is fully on display here. He captures moods and elevates scenes where not much is going on with his ambiance. This is the kind of soundtrack that is so good it works without a film and it was smart to choose him for it.
The Action – This film has probably the best opening action sequence outside of “GoldenEye” as Bond stops a bombing in Mexico City during “Day of the Dead.” There are so many moving parts and we get action sequences in crowds, buildings and ending in a helicopter. It sets the stakes for the rest of the film extremely well and is done to look like one continuous shot at one point. The rest of film never reaches that height but we still get a fun action sequence in the snow and in London.
MI6 Drama – The B-Plot is C (Andrew Scott) trying to get the data from all the different spy agencies of the world and clashing with MI6 in the process. It is a lot of fun and well done except for C’s dream never being fully explained and why he’s a part of Spectre. Also seeing Rory Kinnear as the MI6 Chief of Staff was another perfect casting. That guy is an amazing actor who can carry any part.
Q – Ben Wishaw is just as isolated as Bond for most of this film but is still helping him as he fights C and his organization Nine Eyes. He goes out of his way to help Bond (like Moneypenny) and is really one of the few reasons Bond manages to survive. It was great seeing him get revenge against C when he outsmarts him at the end.
Moneypenny – Naomi Harris is my favorite actor to play Moneypenny and here we see her help Bond early on and remain an ally through the film. It is great seeing her put things together first (like Q) and realize what is happening before M does and I wish we had more scenes with her.
Dr. Madeleine Swann – Seydoux plays the daughter of an assassin who worked for Spectre and is the one to help Bond find where their plots are after she sees she can trust him. They are both traumatized by their pasts and loss of parents and it connects them. She was a good character and I’m glad she’ll be in the next film.
Spectre – Spectre is back, which is fine but I feel like them having a giant boardroom isn’t needed now given technology and it putting them all at risk. They struck me as pulling off the appearance of brilliance without actually being so. This is fine but it doesn’t make them good.
C – Like the members of Spectre, acted really well but his idea of complete oversight of spy agencies and what he’d do is never fully explained as making any sense. He needed more material to be a plus.
Mr. Minx – Bautista falls into the same boat. This guy is a huge consistent threat like Jaws, but nothing is given to humanize him, unlike Jaws. He is good as a physical problem for Bond but he isn’t elevated to anything more, which is a shame because Bautista like Scott is a great actor.
The Bond Family and Blofeld – Blofeld is related to Bond as an adoptive brother who was jealous. There are elements here for something good but it is hard not to think of the Austin Powers and Doctor Evil reveal about how they are related. This wasn’t needed. I get the personal connection but the means of how he rose to power don’t make as much as sense. We needed more detail for this drama to truly work.
Overlong Action at the End – The action at the end really drags. We get a bomb going off, a boat chase and it kind of all flowed together for me as Q, M and Moneypenny dealt with C and Bond and Swann dealt with Blofeld. In the end I really only felt the soundtrack, which is a shame. This needed to be shorter.
Bond’s “Retirement” – It felt like Bond has retired and unretired so much in the Craig continuity. He keeps getting taken off and rejoining MI6 and at the end it even feels that way too when he throws away his gun to go to Swann, only to show up at the end to meet up with Q. If you keep doing this it loses the meaning and it won’t matter if Bond has retired or will retire.
This was a good film that I do recommend to fans of the Franchise. It has an all-star cast, beautiful visuals and soundtrack and the overall plot is compelling. If this film had been a bit tighter and gotten away from bringing in Blofeld I think it would have been stronger for it. Also the Craig Era should stop retiring Bond, they just bring him back.
Final Score: 8.6 / 10