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Thread: Spectre (2015), the latest Bond flick

  1. #1
    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Call me Ishmael
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    Sep 2010
    Virginia, USA

    Default Spectre (2015), the latest Bond flick

    Allow me, Roma_Victrix, to entertain you for a moment with my very own review of Spectre (2015), the latest installment in the James Bond series and, spoiler, it's most likely Daniel Craig's last stint as this iconic British spy as well. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise if you consider his age (47) and the fact that it's the same amount of Bond films in which Pierce Brosnan played the leading role (two more than Timothy Dalton, but of course well under the seven Bond films for both Sean Connery and Roger Moore, respectively). A word of caution to those who proceed with this review: although I reveal nothing that is critical to the plot (in consideration of those who have yet to see it), be advised that there are a few minor spoilers in this review.

    Now, onto the film! Before I present any argument in favor or in dismissal of the film, you should definitely watch the trailer (and the previous Bond films with Daniel Craig if you haven't already seen them...that might hinder your ability to read this review for a solid day or two, though ).


    Firstly, I simply love the cast for this film. Surrounding Craig is an able team of colleagues (and by the end of the film, one could say close friends). These include the legendary Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, or M for short (replacing Judy Dench), Ben Whishaw as Q (the dangerously talented tech guru and MI6 Quartermaster), Naomie Harris as the ever-resourceful Moneypenny, and the inconspicuous femme fatale psychologist Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann. I'll just say she is related to a character you've seen in a previous Bond flick and leave it at that.

    The villains are no less impressive. The minor pain in the ass, Max Denbigh (as played by Andrew Scott, who you may recognize as another creepy little SOB from the recent Sherlock series), provides the necessary creep and government spook in this film. His entrance into the film makes this point unequivocally clear with him and Bond trading barbs with each other in M's office. As the film progresses your desire to punch him in the face is made ever so stronger. As for the principal villain, we have the magnificent thespian Christoph Waltz, who gained his Academy Award accolades (one could argue unfortunately) through a couple Quentin Tarantino films that shot him into the international spotlight. Let's just say he is deliciously evil in this film and a true Machiavellian character who you come to fear every time he appears on screen, and even when he's not so tangible. I don't mean to hype, but I felt the exact same way when I saw for the first time Heath Ledger playing the Joker in the Dark Knight.

    Secondly, who doesn't like the old Bond trope of the not-so-gentle giant and greatest physical nemesis to Bond, who is employed by the chief villain as their handy henchmen? If that's what you're looking for in a Bond film, this movie gives us a subtle nod to the gigantic mute henchmen of the past (Oddjob and Jaws) by introducing us to Mr Hinx (portrayed by Dave Bautista, the monstrous mixed martial artist and professional wrestler). He's a man of few words; in fact, in the entire film he utters but one word (a carefully chosen swear word at just the right moment, a cliche that I should hate, yet it made me chuckle for a good several seconds).

    I'm so very glad this movie decided to break with some tired old Bond tropes that I found funny the first few hundred times, but get terribly old after watching too many of them in a row. That includes the whole obligatory one-liner uttered by Bond every time a villain or even lesser enemy is killed in some fantastic way. I'm sure you all remember Connery's most famous zinger in Goldfinger: "he's playing his golden harp". Lol. Well, if you're like me, you'll be pleased to hear that there are no such ridiculous, eyeroll-worthy lines in this film, even if Bond makes a dozen or so suave clever quips when conversing with the ladies.

    The film is directed by Sam Mendes, who not only did the previous installment of bond in Skyfall, but also such critically-acclaimed films as American Beauty, Road to Perdition, and Jarhead. His directing chops are put on full display right from the beginning, as a lively, gripping spectacle of Mexico City's Day of the Dead celebrations set the stage for Bond's first mission. Major explosions and car chases aside, it's one of the more visually stunning sequences in the film and immediately catches your attention.


    Hate is perhaps too strong word, and should be reserved strictly for people who've personally wronged me, murdered those who are close to me, or Justin Bieber, so this section should really be titled as "Thing I Dislike Very Much About This Film But Won't Cry About". There; that sounds better. All of that said, there wasn't much I strongly disliked about this film aside from things that I both like and dislike simultaneously (we'll get to that topic in the subsequent section).

    I will say this, though: I was more than a bit unnerved by the fact that police and authorities never seem to be around when major catastrophes are occurring, except for the very end of the film. For instance, there's a scene where Bond is fighting over control of a helicopter in midair over a busy urban square that lasts so long, resulting in him just flying away effortlessly, that it strains credulity to the limit. Surely this sort of thing wouldn't be tolerated for so long, and people in such a busy central square would have been evacuated or simply fled long before the conclusion of this struggle. Yet much sillier is the fact that no police helicopters were dispatched long after Bond had already won this round and was flying comfortably away from the scene. I know Mexico isn't the richest country in the world, but come on! They've got police helicopters and at least some cops willing to do their job and apprehend subjects (in this case Bond), whether they be on the ground or in the sky.

    Also, I totally despised the opening song with the credits. Others may like it, but the entire time I felt a deep nostalgia for hearing earlier credit scores instead, like Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" from Casino Royale. I even thought that slightly annoying and overplayed Skyfall opening theme song was better.


    Now comes the part of my review where things get a little schizophrenic, but I would argue there can be certain things about films you can both love and hate simultaneously.

    I love the revealed reason as to why there main villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has such a seething hatred for Bond (hint: he likens Bond to a Cuckoo bird). I won't give away what exactly that relationship is, but needless to say it does seem a bit gimmicky and, at least in other film series, it's been done before. It also really doesn't explain very well the other reasons how Blofeld came to be a world class villain and manipulator of intelligence agencies and indeed whole governments. His personal hatred for Bond and desire to destroy his life seemed to mix perfectly and syncretically with his practical goals, though, especially considering how Bond is arguably the most effective and bluntest instrument in the human toolbox of Her Majesty's government.

    Bond's final showdown with the villain Blofeld is SO predictable. In this film it also ties together well with the recurring theme that Bond always gets the girl (or girls plural as far as this film and Bond flicks go). He's able to do so even if some of them are only around for a single night or just happen to tragically die while following him around. That very point is made into a weakness, naturally, that the main villain exploits in this film (I won't say when or how). I also won't spoil anything or say if any Bond girl happens to perish in this film, or sticks it out till the end. I'll just say the ending isn't that much of a surprise, which wasn't an eyeroll moment, but it certainly felt cliche enough for me to both love and hate it. I have a love-hate relationship with film cliches in general.

    I love a good car chase, a boat chase, a plane chase, which this film gleefully and guiltlessly combines at times, but it does become excessive and, you probably guessed it, a bit unbelievable at times. There's just no way Bond could survive so many near-death experiences and come out with hardly a scratch. Some of these chases also just end a bit too conveniently in terms of timing, along with the equally unbelievable ways in which Bond escapes capture and confinement in more than one instance. Still, I'm compelled to love all of these just the same, because in addition to some really awesome special effects there's also a good amount of tasteful as well as delightfully silly humor in the way Bond dispatches some of the bad guys. That's the sort of thing we expect to see in a Bond film and, unlike other familiar tropes, doesn't leave me shaking my head or rolling my eyes.

    SPOILER (just skip reading and go to the rating if you don't want this minor spoiler to ruin things for you): are you still reading? If you are, then you clearly don't care for things getting spoiled! There's a point in the film where the main villain gains a certain physical disfigurement that is very, very cliche for a Bond villain, in particular this character Blofeld. Think Dr. Evil from Austin Powers and you'll get my gist. I liked how he earned this particular physical blemish, but it was awfully cliche, to the point where I chuckled in amsument and felt the need to roll my eyes. And of course Bond has to make his mandatory one-liner about it to the villain's face. I felt at times that this movie was fulfilling a certain cliche checklist, with a certain quota it had to meet by the time it rolled credits, but I won't let that detract too much from the film's genuine attempt to diverge from previous Bond flicks while at the same time managing to tie together all of the previous plot lines.


    Overall, I give this movie a solid 7/10 and, although I wouldn't give it a strong recommendation to anybody, I would suggest at least one viewing for those who've already seen the other films with Craig depicting Bond. Like with most Bond films I had to roll my eyes a few times, but overall it's a decent film.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Spectre (2015), the latest Bond flick

    Excellent work, R_V! Planning to see this movie as soon as possible. Judging from your review, my impression is that Spectre hasn't quite managed to surpass Casino Royale, my favourite Bond movie starring Daniel Craig.

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