Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Belluci, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Ben Whishaw
So here we are, the 24th Bond film. Let’s recap: this is Daniel Craig’s fourth run as Bond and in my opinion, the best rendition of Bond ever. Skyfall (2012), directed by Sam Mendes, was without a doubt in my mind one of the best Bond films ever and thankfully, Mendes is back behind the directors chair, closing the chapter on Daniel Craig’s run as Bond. The film does feel like its definitely closing a cycle, it connects all the three previous films. It feels like the next Bond film will go in an entirely new direction for the series. So anyhow, how was Spectre? Does it up the ante and maintain the same level of quality established by Skyfall? I’d say that yes, it does. This is after all the same creative team we had in Skyfall and we are talking about the most expensive of the Bond films, so yeah, it gives us more of what we like about Bond films. This time around Bond goes up against Spectre, a top secret society of powerful individuals who rule the world. They are hell bent on destroying the 007 program so they can establish a network that will know everything about everybody, everywhere, all the time.
For a while now, these Bond films have been trying to destroy everything that has been established in the Bond universe.I mean, the MI-6 headquarters was blown to smithereens and M died on the previous film! We got a new Q, and now for Spectre even the whole 007 program is now in shambles. So it’s clear to me that filmmakers are trying to destroy everything previously established so they can create again. New actors, new faces, basically, they’ve been hard at work at giving the whole franchise a face lift, and they are doing this systematically, from film to film. These new movies have a continuity to them that’s working like magic. Yet at the same time, even with all the face-lifts the franchise is getting, this is still the same old Bond. We still get an amazing credit sequence that’s used to give us a glimpse at what we’ll be seeing in the film. We still get Bond asking for his Martini, “shaken but not stirred”. He still says his name is “Bond…James Bond”, and Q still gives him his gadgets. He still gets a cool car in every movie, followed by an awesome chase sequence in said car. So yeah, the series is getting a face lift, but the new films still follow the formula closely. It’s a tried and true and the producers don’t want to mess with it.
Story wise the film is very contemporary, it plays with that idea that the powers that be are gathering data, they are studying our behavior, our interests, where we go and what we buy. Basically, the film is addressing the loss of privacy due to the advancement of technology, which serves as a double edged knife. On the one hand technology makes our lives easier, it entertains us, yet at the same time, it opens a door wide open to whoever wants to scrutinize our lives. Sadly, this is the kind of world we are currently living in. Interesting part about that we cannot put a face to whoever is gathering and analyzing all this data. What the film does is give a face and a name to “them”, to “they”. I loved that Bond manages to infiltrate this powerful secret society and even gets to listen to one of these secret meetings in which “they” decide the fate of the world. Interestingly enough these all powerful individuals are heard talking about pharmaceutical companies, deceases and about how they can sell us the cure; which is another common “conspiracy theory”. The idea that pharmaceutical companies are making us sick so we have to pay for their cure. So yeah, Spectre plays with some heavy themes.
My only gripe with this new film is that it’s not original in the sense that the “Big Brother is Watching You” theme has been played to death, most recently in films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), hell, even the idea of eliminating the secret agent program was recently used in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015). Still, Spectre has enough subplots and action to keep you interested all the way through, in fact, it’s the most action packed of the Daniel Craig movies. It opens with this amazing action sequence that takes place in Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebrations. It opens the film with a huge bang! Action wise, you won’t be disappointed. I’m glad about this because I thought the first two Daniel Craig movies Casino Royale (2006) and especially Quantum of Solace (2008) were severely lacking in action scenes. Thankfully Spectre does not disappoint in that department; in fact, the franchise even recovers its sense of humor with this entry, a welcomed element in my book. The previous three films were so serious and solemn, Spectre manages to squeeze in a joke or two which was much appreciated, I always like it when Bond gets cocky and sarcastic. So I'm happy to report that the "fun" element has been brought back to the Bond films with Spectre, albeit in a controlled manner.
Then there’s the cast which is beyond amazing, this is Daniel Craig at the top of his game. By now he’s got Bond down flat. Christoph Waltz as the main villain is the icing on the cake. I mean, I love it when they put a great actor to play the Bond villain, I mean, how cool was Javier Bardem in Skyfall? Memorable in deed. On Spectre we get the cool and calculating Christoph Waltz as the all seeing, all knowing Blowfeld. Sadly we see very little of Monica Belucci in Spectre, she’s a cinematic goddess that deserved a better role, she seemed wasted. Finally, Spectre is a great Bond film, with good action, beautiful dames, exotic locales and a fantastic cast. Important things happen to Bond on this film, this could be the last time we see Daniel Craig as James Bond film, but considering how much money Spectre will make at the box office, I don’t doubt he’ll be back for “one last film”. Looking forward to seeing Craig again, but if Craig and Mendes don’t return, it will be interesting to see who they give these roles to. Whoever they end up being, they’ve got big shoes to fill! Spectre, like Skyfall, is a solid entry in a franchise that is enjoying some of its best moments.
Rating: 4 out of 5