WARNING: Minor spoilers; but it’s James Bond, we kind of know how these movies go down.
I’m a huge fan of the James Bond film series. When I was younger, I was very into the 007 video games. I played split-screen multiplayer on Xbox and PS2 whenever my friends decided to have sleepovers, and occasionally I would catch an old movie on TV from time to time.
It wasn’t until I saw ‘Casino Royale’ in 2006, where I truly fell in love with the character and the franchise. After seeing that movie, I made it my mission to view all of the previous movies. I own every single film on Blu-ray and I’m always looking forward to seeing a new one on the big screen.
One thing that I find very necessary to point out, with the franchise as a whole (24 films so far), is that only a handful of them are “great”. Being a big fan, I must admit, that this series is filled with a lot of mediocre movies. I don’t think any of them are atrocious or anything, but for the most part, I feel like there are two types of Bond movies. OKAY ones, and REALLY GOOD ones.
It pains me to see that so many people have negative opinions on ‘SPECTRE’, because to me, I would label this newest installment as being one of the better Bond films.
I will point out that, yes, ‘SPECTRE’ does have a few issues, mostly in the script. There are some inconsistencies with the villain’s motives. For example, there’s a terrific fight scene with the main henchman on a train where it’s very clear that this henchman was sent by the main villain to kill James Bond. Moments later, it’s very clear that the main villain wants Bond alive, as a driver was sent for them to be taken to the villain’s lair. I also thought that the widowed Bond girl at the beginning, played by Monica Bellucci, was a complete throw away character and served almost no purpose.
But let me get to my next point. This is nothing new. Many Bond movies from the past have had these types of issues. In retrospect, it seems silly to complain too much about small plot holes and villains having over-the-top motivations when talking about a Bond movie. Seriously.
The problem at hand is that ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Skyfall’ spoiled us. These were films that had very little wrong with them, and made James Bond go from being a parody of itself, to a character and series we could take seriously again. Elements that were once thought of as “traditional” and “cliched”, were thrown out the window, or reversed completely.
From my point of view, ‘SPECTRE’ goes back to some of the 60’s camp and traditional style that made James Bond so popular in the first place, yet it still feels modern and grounded. If you’re not a fan of the earlier installments of Bond, this movie might bother you. But for me, I thought it was a lot of fun!
I loved that the gun barrel was back at the beginning, and the opening Day of the Dead sequence in Mexico was one of the greatest opening sequences in Bond history. Followed by that sequence was of course the traditional titles that looked terrific. And as much as I hate to admit it, Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ fit very well in context. I hated this song when I first heard it. They could have had a better singer to do this theme, but it worked alright.
The rest of the movie continued to feel like classic Bond, and as I said, still had the great modern feel that the other Daniel Craig films have given us. It was great seeing more interaction with Moneypenny, M, and with Q, who I think really stole the show with his dry intelligent humor. I thought that Christoph Waltz did an excellent job as the main villain, however I could have used a bit more.
What was interesting about this film was how much it actually connected to the previous Craig outings. This film basically ties his whole series together in a cool way that was somewhat reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy.
The future of this series can go two ways. If Daniel Craig returns, I can see the next movie having elements of ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. If you’ve seen the 60’s Bond films and know what this particular villain ends up doing in ‘Secret Service’, you will know what I mean.
However, with that said, I feel like any direct continuation might defeat the meaning that this film had. Much like ‘The Dark Knight Rises’; continuing to have films in Nolan’s world would have defeated the point of that film’s ending. It’s clear that Bruce Wayne wants to live a normal life and not have to carry the burden of being Batman anymore. This movie had a very similar situation.
If this is Daniel Craig’s last outing, I think ‘SPECTRE’ serves as a terrific finale to his series. It ties things up nicely, and you actually see a change in his character that was surprising, yet meaningful and human. It felt like a very finite story, and with an actor change being inevitable sooner or later, it might be best to have this be his last outing instead of taking the risk of ending on a very weak note.
After all, Sean Connery ended things with ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (not counting ‘Never Say Never Again’), Roger Moore’s final movie was ‘A View to a Kill’, and Pierce Brosnan had ‘Die Another Day’. It’s pretty safe to say that none of those are in anyone’s Top 10 lists…
But, with all that said, I really enjoyed ‘SPECTRE’. The action was terrific, the performances were great, and there were a lot of surprises; between the opening song titles, the character actions of the ending, and the fact that many old traditions came back in their formulaic form. I mean come on, there’s a return of true gadgets! Perhaps the formulaic nature of ‘SPECTRE’ is what some people found disappointing. But for me, I really liked it!
There might have been some funky plot holes, and strange character motivations. But this is James Bond we’re talking about. Let’s not forget that entirely. ‘Spectre’ is a great and fun addition to the series, and ranks as one of my favorite entries.