Spectre: One step forward, two steps back

Movie Review – Spectre

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The 24th entry in the much-loved 007 franchise sees James Bond (Daniel Craig) receive a message from the late M (Judi Dench). This message makes Bond go rogue and travel to Mexico City and then Rome, where he meets the widow (Monica Bellucci) of a criminal.

With the information he gets from the widow, Bond is able to track down a shady organization whose members wear rings with the insignia of an octopus. Bond finds that this organization, known as Spectre (a familiar name to Bond fans), is led by evil mastermind Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), a man from Bond’s past who was presumed dead.

To get answers about Spectre, Bond tracks down his old nemesis, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), and is sent to White’s daughter Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), who has the information required to locate Spectre’s headquarters – all in order to stop Oberhauser.

Spectre starts off on the right foot with a spectacular sequence that swoops through the streets of Mexico City showing the Day of the Dead festivities. During these celebrations, Bond takes on his first bad guy.

Following this scene, we get one off the loveliest title sequences in the franchise, demonstrating continuity by showing scenes from moments from the last three Craig films, with fleeting glimpses of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), and M (Judi Dench).

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The filmmakers deserve credit for attempting to bring the story full circle by connecting all Daniel Craig entries into one big story that centers around the evil Spectre organization – a definite step in the right direction for the franchise, and something that has never happened before. Hopefully, we’ll see more of that in the future.

From there on, the steps backward begin.

Monica Bellucci’s appearance in the movie is utterly disappointing. I expected much more considering the caliber of an actress that she is. We were supposed to be over the whole ‘women sleeping with Bond for no reason’ ploy. She’s in the movie for 15 minutes —if not less— just as a vehicle for Bond to get a piece of information necessary to get the plot underway. She could have easily played the movie’s villain or better yet, a more suitable love interest for Bond.

There’s a similar problem with Christoph Weisz, who gets almost completely wasted as a Bond villain. It never feels like he represents a real threat or conveys anything resembling fear. He was much scarier in Big Eyes, not to mention other movies in which he has played the bad guy. They sell him as the head of Spectre thus being Raoul Silva’s boss, which is impossible to buy. Bardem’s character in Skyfall was a hundred times more sinister than him.

Speaking of Bond girls, I couldn’t believe when the script tries to put Madeleine Swann —a character I could never empathize with, despite how pleasant she’s to look at— in the same level as Vesper Lynd (Eva Green in Casino Royale). There isn’t a single justification for her being in love with Bond at any point of the story, much less for him – being the character that he is, to actually respond to her on that level.

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The secondary storyline is too similar to the one in Skyfall. M (Ralph Fiennes), Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Q (Ben Whishaw) are dealing, yet again, with a government branch —this time the ‘Nine Eyes’ surveillance system operated by Joint Intelligence Service head Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott)— wanting to dismantle the 00 program for being archaic.

Many Bond purists will love Spectre for all these same reasons, calling it a return to form for the series. But the fact remains that the movie backpedals in many of the progressive regards that the three previous films, especially Casino Royale, had stepped forward. Which is something that is not appreciated.

There is no need to go back to the franchise’s old design. We are ready for a more human Bond, one that is interested in more than just how many evil guys he can kill, and how many beautiful women he can seduce.

Ultimately, Spectre disappoints by failing to deliver a great story in which all previous Daniel Craig entries connect, and also sees the return of many ridiculous over-the-top aspects of the old films. Consequently, it ends up being an entertaining and barely serviceable entry in the franchise – the most mediocre since its reboot.

Considering Daniel Craig will be playing James Bond at least one more time, there’s still a chance the franchise can bounce back with whatever they have planned next.

 

Spectre (2015)
Directed by Sam Mendes

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16 COMMENTS

  1. valcoombs says:

    Great post Eduardo! I agree with you in the areas it could have improved. Something that stepped outside the normal formula would have nice to see. I also agree with ‘bad guy’ he could of have a bigger role. I did enjoy it, but probably would have given it a 7.5/10. I thought that Daniel Craig was officially done as Bond? He said in an interview a few weeks ago he’d rather kill him something than play Bond again… http://www.tvguide.com/news/daniel-craig-james-bond/

    • eduardo says:

      Hi Val, thank you for reading and your comment! I agree with you on the 7.5 rating if we looked at Spectre as a self-contained action film. What bothers me is that they were stepping out of the formula and for some reason they decided to go back. There’s no denying that the direction and photography are amazing and make it a beautiful visual experience, but I wanted Bond as a character to keep evolving.
      And Daniel Craig, his comment says it all: “the only reason he would ever suit up as 007 again would be for the money”, he has more reasons than not to come back. He’s also contradicting himself all the time, not a month ago he said he would keep coming back.

  2. Mark P Jung says:

    Hey Eduardo, great review – I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m planning to check it out later today so I’ll have to give my two cents tonight. As someone who grew up in the Pierce Brosnan bond era, I was actually pleasantly taken aback by Daniel Craig as bond in Casino Royale. Personally, I thought Skyfall was far and away his best picture as bond thus far – with the bar set so high I’m not surprised that Spectre might fall somewhat short. That being said, I am very much looking forward to watching it tonight.

    • eduardo says:

      Hi Mark, thank you! We’re on a similar boat my friend. I also watched the Brosnan movies through youthful eyes and thought them wonderful at the time, of course years brought wisdom and I realized that they are extremely bad, with the exception of Goldeneye.
      Considering that you’re a fan of both Casino Royal and Skyfall like me, I’m interested in your opinion about Spectre. Come back and let me know your thoughts.

  3. Michael says:

    Hi Eduardo

    First off great post ! I havent been able to get out to see this film yet but just like your review i heard Spectre was nothing special. I am upset as i was hoping it would be good but your review may have convinced me to save my money and wait to see it.

  4. Eduardo! I finally saw Spectre last weekend and I couldn’t agree more. This film seemed liked it was created because “it was time for a new Bond movie”. I felt that there was less attention to the details and storyline that Skyfall had. Rather, Spectre seemed to be missing something, and filled these gaps with more action (some great scenes I must say). I think that Skyfall set the bar very high and it was going to be tough to match this regardless. Overall I would give it a 7/10. Great post man, love the blog!

    • eduardo says:

      Hi Jordan, thank you for reading! You’re very right, Spectre feels like it was made just for the sake of adding an entry to the Bond franchise. As an action movie by itself it’s very entertaining, the problem is that it’s part of something much bigger. Thanks for the compliments!

  5. Great post Eduardo! This is a great analysis of the movie. Being a huge bond fan (even though I STILL haven’t seen the newest one) I think I’m going to love it, flaws and all.

    • eduardo says:

      Hi Mackenzie, thank you for reading and your comment! Please when you see it come back and tell me your thought, I’m very interested in the impression of a Bond fan, especially in comparison to both the films since the reboot and the classics.

  6. Amazing review Lalo!!! You really know what you’re talking about Amd I completely agree, the whole saving the damiselle in distress and unstoppable seductor is out of date. Mr Bond, I won’t be seeing you in the cinemas haha

    • eduardo says:

      Hi Gaby, thanks for the compliment! If you like visuals, it’s a great movie to watch on the big screen and if you are willing to overlook the old-school cliches, you will enjoy it.

  7. You know what….I saw this post last week but I didn’t read because I haven’t had the chance to watch the movie at that time. You know, I wanted to have a “non biased” experience hahahahaha. I watched yesterday and I slept almost the whole movie. Like you, I was expecting more Monica Belucci and less Twilight style actress. I was expecting more James Bond and less Nicolas Cage. Very disappointing…..

    • eduardo says:

      Hahahaha, you’re preaching to the quire Estevan. Your reference is very accurate my friend, more Bond and less Nicolas Cage. Thank you for coming back after watching it.

  8. Priscila says:

    Great post Eduardo! Was holding on to see this, but will give it a try and let you know what my thought are… =)

    • eduardo says:

      Hi Pri, thanks for reading and please come back and tell me your opinion after you see it. I’m in a very Bond place right now because of a book I’m reading, I’m interested in more impressions about Spectre.

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