Stakes are high and Bond seems further out of his depth than ever in the spy’s latest film. Spectre is filled with the familiar beats that typically come with the Bond franchise, but it feels a little tamer and safer at times compared to past Bond films or even other competitive spy movies.
The movie does excellent artistically both in how certain scenes were shot or how events coincided with the plot. For example, many dead to Bond return in one way or another and the very opening sequence involves Bond in Mexico during a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. If there’s anything better than the art of the film, it is Daniel Craig maintaining his suave, gentleman charm. He maintains his cool while dealing the pressures imposed by his enemies, or even his allies. The artful opening, as the franchise is known for, was beautifully stunning and had a unique style to it, as they usually do.
James Bond’s mission from start to finish is sparked by instructions from a very close and trusted friend. Without a single doubt, Bond follows through with the orders. Despite the reluctance from his country to assist him, going as far as to order him “grounded,” and not even sanctioning him anything besides a fancy watch from Q. Most of the discrimination for Bond seems to come from a new player, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), whom Bond refuses to address as anything but C. Bond of course, ignores the rules that don’t work for him, takes the things that would greatly assist him, and persuades anyone he can to assist him or they’ll regret it. Moneypenny and Tanner assist him full-heartedly of course, but Q had to be incentivized just a little.
While Bond is on his mission, C seems most concerned with getting a unified invasive intelligent deal with multiple countries approved and making the 00 program obsolete. Ralph Fiennes’ M and Tanner stand with him shoulder to shoulder, but seem far more reluctant with the plan. M is constantly trying to vouch for the need for a man in the field vs. drones doing all the dirty work, but to little effect. Sound familiar? Yeah, the change from personal field workers to drones warfare isn’t that new of a concept, but it did make for both Bond’s mission and M’s issue to intersect eventually.
Bond is quickly hopping around the world, following lead after lead until he uncovers Spectre, the secret organization that seems to have control of all the powers in the world with ease. Everything works according to their plan. And if it doesn’t, they make it work. At the center of this organization is Oberhauser, a familiar face that Bond suspected of dying when his parents did. Oberhauser plays a very nasty villain. He manages to stay 5 steps ahead of James nearly the entire time. Oberhauser definitely keeps Bond on his toes with the help of Hinx (Dave Batista), who makes one reminisce on Bond favorites like Oddjob and Jaws. Hinx is an unstoppable force, but sadly, confronts Bond a handful of times, with only one of them being an all-out brawl.
Hinx. A man of few words.
As I said before, there are some strong elements to the film. The artistic deliverance, Danielle Craig’s smooth performance, even the Bond girl, Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux), manages to please while also avoiding the norm to be expected from a Bond girl. But not everything was as pleasing. The British intelligence service seemed to be rather hollow, almost as if it was composed of barely 5 people. If they’re not the four people assisting Bond, not a single other person seemed interested working for the safety of the British people, let alone, the world. Or at least they didn’t seem competent enough if they were around. Q didn’t seem to have a single co-worker that could monitor his work in the events that he aids Bond even if he shouldn’t. The action also didn’t feel as tense and climactic as it probably could have. Perhaps it has something to do with similar spy franchises hitting similar beats, and even executing them better, such as Mission Impossible with Ethan Hunt dealing with dysfunctional gadgets or Benji doing his computer work while also worrying about his own survival. Spectre sees similar set ups like that, but not always with as tense the tension.
The story wraps up all of the Daniel Craig Bond movies nicely. It brings them all together. Everything Bond has done is all because he was put on a path he couldn’t avoid. Everything that happened to James Bond was all intentional and ultimately his fault… Did that sound a bit excessive and redundant? Get used to it. The movie kind of hits you over the head with the interconnections a little too often. And after everything is revealed and all the puzzle pieces are put together, the movie continues to look at the complete puzzle with the same nods to how it all came together. Not so subtle for a James Bond movie, sadly.
Despite not everything unfolding perfectly, Spectre is a fine James Bond movie. It references a lot of the greatest of old Bond films, not just Daniel Craig’s, in very tasteful ways. It also managed to be a fitting conclusion to the James Bond we’ve come to know from Daniel Craig. This may or may not be his final movie as Bond, given recent words he shared on the matter, but Spectre will definitely work as a departure for him. It also leaves room for expansion should he continue.
(3.8 out of 5)