SPECTRE is a refreshing return to Classic Bond : 4/5
There are action movies, and then there are James Bond movies. James Bond has become so widely recognized and celebrated that he has stood its ground for over 50 years, though not without changes. Whether it be the unabashed camp of the Roger Moore era or the fist-clenching grit of “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall”, Bond has aged, but manages to blend in with the trademark style of the time, as every good spy should.
Though I think it is fair to say that “SPECTRE” is the odd man out when talking about the Daniel Craig Bonds, for better or for worse, depending on how you look at it. Sam Mendes (the director of the grittier “Skyfall”, immediately preceding “SPECTRE”) has ditched the new old formula of the recent Bond films and has created a film that embraces the past of the franchise. Kind of like a Bond family reunion.
The impressive thing about this new approach to “SPECTRE” is not the guts it took to take this new approach, but the fact that it actually works. This is pure fun at the movies, expertly crafted and made to entertain. Every second is created as a celebration of the reason we go to the movies, or why we are supposed to go to the movies. Do not take this statement as the declaration of “SPECTRE” as a perfect film. It’s flawed, very much so. Though there is something about the presence of the character of James Bond, and especially the portrayal by Daniel Craig, that propels this movie into a certain section of enjoyment.
If you’ve seen the Bond films of yore, you can probably guess the contour of the plot. Bond receives an old message instructing him to pull off a simple assassination, or simple of a Double-0 agent, that is. As he delves deeper into his investigation, he uncovers a mysterious organization, SPECTRE, led by Christoph Waltz’s Oberhauser. Not only is SPECTRE posing a new threat to Queen and Country, but they are revealed to be responsible for every danger and loss James has experienced in the past movies (well, at least since Casino Royale).
This plot is one of the only things about “SPECTRE” about which I do not know what to say. It is such classic Bond, which is such a joy to see as a large Bond fan, that I am conflicted on whether to give the writers criticism for rehashed plot points and ideas, (which occasionally causes some sloppy writing), or praise for paying tribute to the franchise that they so obviously feel passion for. I would rather have that then a careless mish-mash written by people who have never seen a Bond film.
What you see on the screen is just as impressive as what is off it. Everyone is trying their hardest with this film, and it pays off. Not only Bond is the star of “SPECTRE”. Lea Seydoux plays, Madeline Swann, a great “Bond Girl” and Ralph Fiennes (phenomenal in last year’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) makes for a surprisingly badass M, and he sells it. The villains are also standouts. Christoph Waltz, though admittedly underutilized, makes every scene he’s in. Also, for the first time in years, we get a Bond henchman, this time played by Dave Bautista of “Guardians of the Galaxy”, who is just as strong as his character is “Guardians” but ten times more ruthless.
Though it seems that all through this review, I have only been talking of “SPECTRE” is comparison to the other films in the franchise, which is unfair to “SPECTRE”, and pretty much every film for that matter, even if I was speaking praises. You can’t speak of Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” by only talking about its similarities and differences to “Vertigo”. While no “North by Northwest”, “SPECTRE” is some of the most pure popcorn fun you will have at the movies this summer, because who wouldn’t want to see Daniel Craig in close quarters combat on a helicopter, to drive down the mountains of Austria, to infiltrate the headquarters of “SPECTRE” to end up escaping in his new sleek Aston Martin, and to, for the first time in Craig’s career to open with Bond walking across the screen in a gun barrel, and when he turns and shoots, blood drips down the screen, because, once again, Mr. Bond has hit his mark.