A Bond Film For Bond Fans: A Review of Spectre
By Matthew Rembold
After the roaring success of Skyfall, Spectre had some rather big shoes to fill. It’s not easy following up one of the biggest successes in a franchises entire history, especially a franchise that has been alive for about 53 years. Luckily for Spectre, it passes for not only a good James Bond film in general, but a great one for die hard fans of the series.
A message from Bond’s (Daniel Craig’s) past sends him on a globe trotting mission, leading to discovery of a secret organization whose involvement in Bond’s life goes deeper than he ever imagined. Now aided by a former enemy’s daughter (Léa Seydoux), Bond must stop the head of the organization (Cristoph Waltz) who plans to ruin his life once again.
It is clear from the opening of Spectre that this time, Sam Mendez is trying to go back to form with Bond, but with his own unique touch. The gun barrel sequence is once again placed before the action unfolds, something that has not been seen in a Bond film since 2002. After an incredible opening long take and intense action scene, it is clear that Spectre will already be one of the best shot films in the franchise’s history as Skyfall was before it. The cinematography is fantastic once again and remains that way throughout the entire film. The action scenes are stable here, little to no shaky cam is used, and the hyper-active editing of Quantum of Solace is long gone. This leads to nail biting fight scenes that rival even those of Skyfall and Casino Royale. Technically, this film is done perfectly. Camera work is solid and the action scenes deliver.
The film’s major flaws, however, lie in the screen writing. From a story telling perspective, Spectre does a fantastic job of delivering an intriguing tale. Any lose ends from the previous three Craig outings are tied up magnificently and I would highly recommend rewatching at least all of the Craig films, and few of the older Bond movies to be sure that you catch even the most subtle of references. There are several clever nods to the past sprinkled throughout Spectre that would make any Bond fan giddy. These aspects are what make Spectre great for fans especially, but the one major flaw this film has that holds it down from being nearly perfect is the tragic under use of its villain.
As we all know, villains play a major role in the world of 007. We also know that Cristoph Waltz is a great actor as seen from his performances in some of Quentin Tarantino’s latest motion pictures. He has the ability to make an iconic Bond villain, one of the best that 007 has ever seen. Not to fear, Waltz once again gives a spectacular performance. His performance is not the issue, the issue lies in the fact that he isn’t there enough. The scenes that he does appear, however, are some of the best any Bond villain has ever had. Sadly though, Waltz is not given as much screen time as I would hope, but he does make up for it in his acting.
Aside from that one glaring issue, I personally loved Spectre and had no other problems with it. There is honestly much more greatness in Spectre than there is any bad, and Waltz not appearing enough is not as big of an issue as it might seem. Performances, for example, are as spot on as they could possibly be. Craig once again plays the role of Bond perfectly, showing that he understands the character knows what works for Bond. Léa Seydoux makes for a great Bond Girl, providing more than just eye candy. She ends up being an essential piece of the overall plot and is a great counter to Bond’s suave nature. Their relationship comes off as believable and works to the movies advantage. Dave Bautista also makes a very nice transition from Drax the Destroyer to the menacing Mr. Hinx. His character makes for a nice throwback to the strong and silent henchman of the past such as the hat throwing Odd Job or metal toothed Jaws.
Overall, I would highly recommend Spectre to any Bond fan. The camera work is stunning, the performances are superb, and the action is as tense as ever. The references also make for great fan service and only add to the film’s ability to entertain. It is not a perfect film and will probably not be anyone’s favorite of the series, but it is without a doubt a worthy entry into the Bond lore.