Right out the gate, why is nobody talking about the incredible tracking shot that opened this movie? I sat there in the theater for three and a half minutes thinking to myself, “Why didn’t anyone in the 50+ years of James Bond think to open like this?” It made me think that this was going to be the best Bond movie ever; but was it?
Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as the MI6 agent James Bond takes place some time after its predecessor, Skyfall (2012). The ramifications of what happened are still relatively recent so let’s call it sixish months? Sounds about right. Spectre (2015) opens in Mexico on the Day of the Dead as Bond is off the books tracking down a man to kill. Because he’s Bond and he does that. Meanwhile, M over at MI6 (Ralph Fiennes, one of my favorite working actors right now) is dealing with MI6 potentially being shut down and rendered irrelevant. If this sounds familiar it’s because the literal same thing happened to the IMF in this summer’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Which you can read my review on here). Eventually what Bond discovers is a secret organization that’s been lurking in the shadows since Craig’s first take on 007 in Casino Royale (2006).
First off there are absolutely things that I enjoyed about this movie. Like I said, the tracking shot at the beginning is superb, and that can really be said about the cinematography in this movie as a whole. It’s certainly one of the best shot James Bond films to date, probably only trailing behind Skyfall; but that’s what happens when you have Roger Deakins for Skyfall. The guy is brilliant and knows his way around a camera and some lights. Like I said though, the camerawork in Spectre is still great to look at. Hoyte Van Hoytema was behind the camera this time instead of Deakins and he does have some great credentials under his belt – Two that stand out are Her (2013) and Interstellar (2014). You can see my reviews of those movies here and here (Wow, lot of self promotion today). The action scenes I thought were very well shot and very well choreographed. There wasn’t any of that shaky-camera crap that I hate, it was exciting and suspenseful for the most part.
Daniel Craig at this point IS James Bond. He’s completely immersed himself in the character and will without a doubt go down in Bond history as one of the best iterations; and once again he proves it in this movie. Léa Seydoux plays Madeleine Swann, our “Bond Girl” for this venture and I actually really enjoyed her. She was beautiful, she was smart, and she wasn’t afraid to pull a trigger if she needed to. It’s the villain, however, that really took turned me off of this film. You have Christoph Waltz as your main villain. Let me repeat that: CHRISTOPH. WALTZ. This man is a brilliant actor who we know can play pure dag nasty evil – AND PLAY IT WELL – and yet he’s the most underused character in the whole picture! I kid you not, this guy was on screen for all of maybe five scenes? Five scenes in a two and a half hour movie. His introduction scene was brilliant, you see it in the trailer when he’s sitting at the Spectre meeting and he’s ominous with the lighting making him just this mysterious silhouette. To me, a great Bond movie is only as great as its villain. Javier Bardem was AWESOME as the villain in Skyfall. At first we only hear how evil he is and we finally meet him and Bardem just owns the role and we see how sick this guy really is. With Christoph Waltz’s character, Oberhauser, he only really brags about all of the things he’s done in the past. We never really SEE him do anything to prove just how evil he is and not just Spectre.
What really irked me about this was that Spectre was set up to be about Bond following this trail of bread crumbs to find this evil organization that has been present all this time and pulling the strings to the world’s problems; but fact of the matter is the development of all this in the film itself is not interesting at all. I mean there are action scenes here and there and like I said, those are all well and good. Bond is, after all, an action movie and it’s supposed to be a good time at the movies; and if they cut out the Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation ripoff subplot, it could have made more room for some better development with Waltz’s villain and the main plot. Not to mention the movie could have been maybe a half hour shorter.
There is definitely enough in here to enjoy Spectre as an action movie for sure. Daniel Craig IS James Bond and the supporting cast of Ben Whishaw as Q and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny are all well and good; but coming off of the success of Skyfall from the SAME director, Sam Mendes. However I can’t help but say I would not have been invested in this movie if it weren’t for the fact that it was a James Bond movie – a franchise I grew up on watching the films and playing the video games (Nightfire (2002) is still one of the greatest games of all time and you can read THAT review here).
Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Pretty good
Like the title of the review says, I think we were spoiled with such an incredible Bond outing like Skyfall and even Casino Royale for that matter. I will say this is still better than Quantum of Solace (2008). There are nods to the fans sprinkled throughout Spectre but it doesn’t make up for a non-compelling plot and underused Christoph Waltz.
PS Sam Smith’s theme wasn’t AS bad as I thought it was going to be; but he was trying to do something along the lines of Tom Jones’ Thunderball (1965) and, well, it just wasn’t. There are certainly better Bond themes out there… Like Adele’s.
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