Movie Review: Spectre


Here’s the thing about James Bond movies: they’re not so much films as they are spectacles. They’re not meant to be broken down and reviewed as if they’re saying anything important. Structurally they’re all similar, where the greatness of any particular Bond film lies in the main villain and exotic locations. If you nail just those two elements…you have a great Bond film.

I mean think about it, how many Bond movie plots can you actually recall?

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Spectre is the fourth film in the Daniel Craig as James Bond series, and it is a straight up throw back to old school Bond. Some people (Bond lovers) are going to like it; others (assholes) are not going to like it at all, and then waste time writing articles about the “need” for a James Bond and all that other navel gazing bullshit that follows a Bond movie release.

Director Sam Mendes started to aim the current Bond series towards the classic Bond films with Skyfall. Having the main villain and Bond interact and play off each other is a staple of the “great” Bond films and something that was sorely lacking from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Moreover, while I respect the Daniel Craig reboot for injecting some much-needed modernity in to the Bond films, it lost many of the things that made the James Bond movies great in the first place.

Seemingly ridding itself of the Jason Bourne heavy leanings of the first two Craig Bond films, Spectre takes us back to the golden era of Bond: beautiful locations, hot women, menacing henchmen, fights in small spaces, and blowing the shit up out of things. Oh yeah, and the return of James Bond’s greatest villain Ernst Blofeld!

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With the return of Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), there is also a return to the sadomasochism that was slowly drained from the Bond series as they started leaving the books behind. To be fair, there’s a lot of Bond getting his shit tortured in the Craig Bond’s, but Spectre takes it all the way back with the main villain being the torturer in charge. Ridiculous monologuing and all!

The only real complaint I have with Spectre is in regards to its use of Christoph Waltz as Blofeld. I remain optimistic with Craig having one more film on his contract and Blofeld not being killed at the end of the film that there very well could be more Blofeld/Bond hijinks in another film. Because he’s not given much to do in this film.

I think what I love the most about Spectre is that the production trolled a fair amount of people in to thinking that the film was going to be something it wasn’t. When it was announced that Monica Bellucci was cast as a “Bond Girl”, the media was all “Finally an age appropriate woman for Bond!” Nevertheless, she’s in the movie all of five minutes, half of that being a super sexy foreplay scene, the other half being a plot propulsion device…not pun intended!

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Of course, the 30-year-old Lea Seydoux is going to be the main Bond bitch! This is James Bond we’re talking about here! Nothing against Bellucci she is fine as shit in this movie, but no Bond film fan was confused as to who Bond was going to pick.

Perhaps another disappointment with Spectre would be in Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx, Blofeld’s henchman and Bond ass kicking deliveryman. Maybe this is a throwback to the less-as-more villains in past Bond films, like Oddjob and Jaws, they’re more physical presences than substantial characters. Mr. Hinx is very menacing and makes a great entrance in to the film proper, but then he winds up being wasted in a bunch of vehicle chases. Look, I love beautiful expensive cars racing around “exotic” locations as much as the next man, but come on! You’re wasting a giant imposing figure that looks great fighting Bond!

Spectre spends a little bit of time in film continuity, with Bond focusing on previous events in the series. Which does kind of make sense as Blofeld explains he was the mastermind behind all the plots of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall? However, it’s not necessary, and Bond dealt with a lot of this “demons” and “being too old” nonsense to great effect in the previous movie.

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They don’t even pretend as if James Bond is too old to be out in the field fucking bitches and ruining master plots. Although there is a great visual gag early in the film when Bond is given essentially a tracking device in his blood and a screen that reads “Alcohol Content” that is clearly on an uptick is briefly seen.

As I stated at the beginning, Bond movies are more spectacle than film, so all these critics that are panning the movie because “It’s not as awesome as Skyfall” need to get over themselves. Skyfall is literally the plot of The Dark Knight, it has a bloated run time and Raoul Silva was a shitty villain. Compared to Quantum of Solace, of course Skyfall is going to be leagues better.

In addition, all this talk of continuity is absurd as well. Bond movies are the perfect cable movie marathon material! That’s how most people became Bond fans in the first place! You watch these movies on your ass during the holidays as you try to fight off a food-induced coma.

Better yet, Bond movies have always been a father-and-son pop culture fixture. At my viewing, there were several fathers and sons watching the movie. For a matinee, the theatre was packed as well. This is the type of “movie” James Bond will always be. It’s not one of those things you break down and discuss within an inch of it’s life. Either you like a particular Bond movie or you don’t. In the case of Spectre, I loved it very much and look forward to the next Bond movie…as always.

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Movie Review: Spectre