A new Bond film has arrived, and that makes me very happy. I’ve been a fan of the Bond films since I was a kid, and my love of Bond was reinforced with the last Bond film, Skyfall, which was not only a great Bond film (the best one yet if I might add), it was also one of the very best films of 2012, which says a lot since there were a lot of really good films that came out that year. Three years later, Skyfall director Sam Mendes returns, along with Daniel Craig as 007 and the rest of the main players from Skyfall all return. In a film that could possibly be the final Bond film with Daniel Craig in the lead (judging by his most recent comments), does Spectre end the Daniel Craig-era in spectacular fashion? Let’s find out.
The film opens with Bond in Mexico City, tying up some loose ends. Those loose ends are discovered to be apart of S.P.E.C.T.R.E, the sinister evil corporation that we haven’t seen since 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. Bond then goes all around the world from Rome, to Austria, to Tunisia, as well as his home turf of London. Speaking of which, there’s another battle that’s going on, which is government surveillance. M, played by Ralph Fiennes, is having to battle his way through political fights, as a government type played by Andrew Scott is threatening to get rid of MI-6’s double-o program, in favor for drones and other types of modern warfare to keep the world safe. Bond also meets up with a few women during his adventure. The first being Monica Bellucci’s character, a mysterious widow who comes into Bond’s life, and Madeline Swann, a doctor played by Lea Seydoux, who Bond realizes that they both have a few things in common with one another. We also get introduced to the leader of S.P.E.C.T.R.E, whose played by Christoph Waltz, who also has a little bit to do with Bond’s recent past.
John Logan returns to script with Bond regulars Neal Pervis and Robert Wade, and Jez Buttworth, whose been showing up a lot lately in my reviews, does some last-minute re-writes on the film. What I find really interesting about this Bond film is that it helps tie together the last three Daniel Craig Bond films, and that’s all I’m gonna say before someone gets their pants in a wad about spoilers. What’s also fascinating about the film is that while Skyfall brought something wholly unique to the Bond franchise in that it made Bond more human and vulnerable than before, this film (finally?) brings Craig’s Bond into what many have come to expect from a Bond film. Meaning that while the film does have its grittiness and realism from time to time, it also has gadgets, sinister organizations hellbent on controlling the world, quips/one-liners, and so on. There was a critic out there that described this film as Daniel Craig being in a Roger Moore Bond film, which is true (somewhat). The film never gets as silly as the Moore-era Bond flicks, but it does have a feeling of what the Bond films felt like in the 60s and 70s. This may be a turnoff to the people who loved how different Craig’s Bond films, but there may be some that admire what the filmmakers did with this interpretation of Bond, even if it does have its share of flaws. I happen to be in the latter category.
There’s a lot in Spectre that really works and there’s a few things that don’t quite work in Spectre. First things first, Daniel Craig is fantastic as Bond. He’s my personal favorite actor in the role of the iconic spy, so the weaker parts of the film are elevated just by his presence. Lea Seydoux is one of the best Bond girls in the franchise (for me at least), and was a formidable ally for Bond. Ralph Fiennes is a nice addition to M., and Naomi Harris is great as Moneypenny. The most disappointing thing about the film was Christoph Waltz was not that great of a Bond villain. I’m not doubting that acting abilities or the actual performance Waltz gave, which was a solid one, but he’s barely in the whole film, and isn’t as meaty of a role as Javier Bardem’s villain was in the last film. What was also a bit disappointing (although not shocking at all for me) was that the film didn’t have the emotional attachment that Skyfall did. There was never a moment where Bond was as vulnerable as he was in that film, but it feels almost stupid to compare the two, since there was no way Mendes’ could’ve topped Skyfall.
Speaking of which, Mendes does make a really solid Bond film with Spectre, which is a nice tribute to the Bond films of yesteryear. The film may not be structured as well tonally as Skyfall was, but it’s still a great Bond film nonetheless, and as a die-hard fan of the franchise, I enjoyed myself during the film quite a bit. It seems almost baffling that the film has a lower Rotten Tomatoes score than Quantum of Solace, which was a pretty bad Bond film. Spectre is a much better film than Quantum, which will hopefully sell you on going to see this film. Surprisingly, I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I did in the most recent Mission: Impossible film, which is a statement I thought I’d never say, even if I am a fan of Tom Cruise’s franchise. Regardless, Spectre is a lot of fun, and you’ll have a blast if you don’t think too hard about the story, and your bladder can handle the two and a half hour runtime.
If this is indeed Craig’s final Bond film, it’s a solid way to end his tenure as 007. Craig has been my generations Bond, as I can still remember my father taking me out of school early just to go see Casino Royale nearly 10 years ago. It doesn’t feel like that long of a time ago, but 10 years is quite a time, and doing what Craig has been doing physically to play Bond can be grueling since Craig isn’t getting any younger. Most of me whats Craig to move on from the role, as I think three solid (and one shitty) Bond film is enough, and he won’t overstay his welcome like Roger Moore did. However, I’d be up to see Craig do another Bond film, but if this his final film, and he can get out of his contract, I think Spectre is a solid way to end it. Thanks Daniel.