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SPECTRE User Review

  • lucasisking
    Do you exSpectre me to talk?
    Review of SPECTRE movie by lucasisking, Oct 28, 2015.
    After my disappointment with Skyfall and the overall direction Sam Mendes appeared to be taking Daniel Craig’s Bond (and then the early trickle of negative buzz surrounding Spectre), I have to admit to spending the first hour and a half of this being both thrilled and relieved. This was great! Bond seemed to have his mojo back- being more like the cold, tough assassin from Casino Royale than the tired grump he was throughout most of Skyfall. The opening scene is punchy and exciting, and scatters a series of breadcrumbs for Bond to follow that will ultimately lead to the enigmatic puppet-master behind not only Quantum and its terrorist affiliates, but other even more personal events in Bond’s past. Meanwhile, M and the 00 program are under threat from bureaucracy at home; forcing Bond and his team to go rogue once again to uncover the ultimate mystery before they are shut down forever…

    Action wise, it’s a step up from the relatively flaccid Skyfall with a much more deadly Bond (Craig kicks a lot of ass here). When he punches opponents you can almost feel the wind being knocked out of you as well as them. And for the first time he’s matched- perhaps bettered- by his first ever worthy physical opponent in the hulking form of Dave Bautista’s menacing (and silent) Mr Hinx: a truly deadly assassin-for-hire with a terrifyingly unique method of passing job interviews. He gets arguably the movie’s best action set piece; one that will recall memories of a certain scene from From Russia with Love. It’s disappointing he doesn’t get more screen time.

    The Bond girls here are also slightly disappointing in terms of their impact. Monica Bellucci’s character for example has little to no screen time- never getting the opportunity to be the ‘match’ for Bond she could easily have been. Lea Seydoux fares much better, but she doesn’t have quite the same chemistry as the much more fleshed out (and attractive) Vesper played by Eva Green. At first it seems like she could be, but her ‘resistance’ to Bond's charms doesn’t last, despite her initial assertions to the contrary. She’s also not particularly developed other than having a personal connection to a key character.

    The home team are all present and correct. M gets to grapple with an invasive MI5 merger, while Moneypenny and Q provide Bond’s in-the-field support. Ben Whishaw is likeable, but despite some humorous and well-timed banter between Q and Bond, he ends up being little more than the obligatory computer geek; clattering away at keyboards before the clock runs out.

    The story, such as it is, starts off well as Bond follows hunts his elusive quarry around the world joining dots as he goes, leading to some interesting (if contrived) revelations that tie together the entirety of the Craig run of films. There’s a superb scene with Jesper Christenden (Mr White), which sets the tone and further establishes Bond to be up against an organisation even more sinister and far reaching than previously thought.

    This all plays out well for much of the movie- right up until the aforementioned locomotive action scene. It’s in the last hour- when we finally get to meet the head of the snake – that Spectre takes an unfortunate nose-dive. Mendes has, to his credit, attempted to set up a world in which the excesses of the Connery/Moore era make believable sense. And he continues the work done in Skyfall to try to marry the two Bondiverses into a satisfying whole. Unfortunately he fumbles it with the main antagonist. Christoph Waltz’s talents are wasted in an ultimately laughable villain who’s identify is obvious from the off and who’s menace never lives up to the build up. As with Silva before him, we have the posturing, the monologues, the grand entrance, the over-elaborate schemes, the unnecessarily slow mechanisms and the homoerotic obsession with Bond. During a key scene I found myself internally screaming: “just shoot him!” And there’s of course an inexplicable ‘things exploding’ desert escape that further establishes we are now-for better or worse- in old school territory. But in a post-Austin Powers world its just too hard to take seriously. The following, and final, act is a pantomime of absurd contrivance and convenience and is almost too silly for words; rendering Waltz completely impotent as what was supposed to be the ‘villain to end all villains’.

    Despite a promising start then, Daniel Craig’s 007 limps off screen possibly for the final time, never having relived the glories of his first remarkable outing in 2006 but fortunately leaving the franchise in better shape than he found it.

    Pros

    • Craig back on form despite his physical age
    • Ties together all the Craig movies
    • Great build up and sense of menace
    • Great opening and powerful set pieces- the train fight is exceptional
    • Some enjoyable comedy banter with Q
    • A bold attempt to reboot the old style Bond movies, while keeping a foot in the real world

    Cons

    • Not entirely succesful combination of old and new Bond styles
    • Falls apart once the villain is introduced, and Waltz' character never lives up to his promise
    • Doesn't top this year's Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
    • Absurd contrivances and predictable outcomes
    • Underused Bellucci and average main Bond girl
    • Cliched Bond tropes invoke annoyance rather than nostalgia

    Verdict

    6
    • Fillumgeek
      Good review. Very accurately sums up my thoughts as well. For me, this Bond was all about the great build up, the first trailer was fantastic and there were interesting themes to build on, from Skyfall. And then, as you say, the third act of Spectre is just so spectacularly silly. You cannot believe a Bond film can have those cliches, post Austin Powers. The evil base. The evil villain, who cannot kill a man at the centre of his own empire, surrounded by his own soldiers, when that man is also immobilized in his chair.

      But at the heart of it, I hold this film up to a gold standard. And that is Casino Royale. In Craig's first film you actually cared about him and Vesper, and that was a believable relationship. Le Chiffre was an interesting villain, who actually harms Bond, rather than just endless talking. The action scenes were good. And the centre of the film was that amazing set-piece arranged around the poker game. The structure of the film came from Ian Fleming's novel, and all the updating, the action, the casting and modern tropes of Jason Bourne enhanced the story. From villain, to Bond's love interests, to action, to subtlety of plot, Spectre is way below that level. It's above Quantum of Solace because it is more fun. To be honest, most films are.
    No comments have been posted on this review yet.
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