SPECTRE

SPECTRE is, without a doubt, the dullest, most phoned-in Bond movie since Daniel Craig took over the part in 2006’s Casino Royale.

How bad SPECTRE, the 24th in the series, really is is a matter of personal taste. Personally, I will SPECTRE 3always prefer the tone of the Craig films – even the worst (Quantum of Solace, SPECTRE) of them – to even the best of the campy Roger Moore pictures or the silly Pierce Brosnan outings. Given my admitted preference for a rougher and angrier 007, I am still submitting SPECTRE as one of the better (well, Top 10) entries in the franchise.

My expectations going in were high. First of all, I had been dying to order a 007 martini at Cineplex’s VIP Experience ever since it opened earlier this year and had been saving it for this movie. “Oh, that’s the perfect drink for this movie,” my waitress informed me, as if my ordering it had been a coincidence. More importantly though, my eager anticipation of SPECTRE reached new heights once its title had been released.

SPECTRE had always been my favourite part of the old Sean Connery classics and I couldn’t wait to see what the 21st century reboot would look like. Back in the 60s, the organization known as SPECTRE would always be trying to trick two superpowers into going to war with each other. And MI-6, Bond included, would always fall for it for the first half of the movie until the inevitable revelation that would invariably lead to what I consider to be one of the most iconic 007 lines “Of course. SHHHPECTA”.

SPECTRE 2Because SPECTRE reimagines Bond’s first dust-up with the nefarious organization, I probably should have known that I would not be hearing my favourite line. Which isn’t to say that the latest 21st century Bond film isn’t without its share of silliness. With the success of Casino Royale and Skyfall, the creative team seem more confident than ever and allow themselves licnese to have some fun with the material that Craig’s earlier and darker installments would have never allowed. SPECTRE is a return to Bond’s glory days, featuring exploding watches, secret societies, elaborate torture devices, and unkillable villains.

It’s mostly fun to watch. Craig’s performance, continuing to redefine Bond’s signature charm as SPECTREa brave face against deep psychological scars, balances the less restrained elements nicely, making it easier to just sit back and enjoy the insanity without rolling our eyes as much. Bond’s close-quarters fight with the indestructable Hinx (played as the strong silent type by David Badista) aboard a train is particularly reminiscent of the best Bond brawls from the Connery and Moore days and was a definite highlight for me.

Unfortunately, director Sam Mendes and company have also taken Skyfall’s success as license to rest on their laurels a bit. The chases too often feel uninspired and familiar, even from – as Jay pointed out – earlier in the movie. Other scenes resort too often to a kind of melodrama that Craig’s earlier films were mostly successful at avoiding.

Still, SPECTRE looks great and is well-cast (although Christoph Waltz isn’t nearly compelling as a Bond villain as Mads Mikkelsen or Javier Bardem were) so is only disappointing when compared with Bond’s best missions.

And the martini was worth the wait.

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58 thoughts on “SPECTRE

  1. Sean

    I totally disagree about Spectre being better than all the Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan Bond movies. Even after accounting for the camper tone, which is a negative for me as well, there were some good movies sprinkled through the Moore and Brosnan runs. Movies that were much more entertaining than the mess we saw last night!

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    1. Matt Post author

      I wouldn’t call it a mess by any means but did find it a strange movie. It’s tone seemed more dependent on whatever the mood was whatever day they were shooting and less on what fit the story. It was all over the place and I’m not sure they ever fully decided what kind of movie that they wanted to make. I still prefer it to the Brosnan and Moore ones, even though I too enjoyed some of their entries.

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    1. Matt Post author

      It’s true, just look at how outraged people were at the casting of Daniel Craig before anyone had even seen a single clip. A lot of people are very attached to their vision of the character.

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  2. Birgit

    I look at all the Bond films as they are all brothers. Connery was the epitome of the 60’s Bond whom we know has died from either lung cancer, cirrhosis of the liver or syphilis. His younger brother, Moore, probably has dementia but is still fun loving while he grabs all the PSW’s butts. Lazenby is happy with his one shot and is drinking Tequila somewhere. Dalton is trying to not remember his stint at MI6 while the 2nd youngest in the Bond family, Brosnan, is feeling quite happy and is keeping himself entertained. Their youngest brother, Craig, has some anger issues and doesn’t seem to have quite as much fun as the rest of his brothers did. He needs to visit his brother Moore at the long care home a bit more often. As for Spectre, I can’t wait to see it and see if I agree with your assessment

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    1. Matt Post author

      That’s a really good analysis and I’m so glad that you didn’t forget to mention George Lazenby. He actually wasn’t a very good Bond but his movie had lots to love.

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  3. donnamarie

    Saw Spectre on Thursday and agree with your assessment. It also felt like a wrap up of Quantum and Skyfall, opening the way for the next in the series. And yes, Javier was way scarier than Waltz!

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  4. Salty Popcorn

    Hahaha – easily my favourite Craig Bond movie – maybe finally I am starting to come around to liking him but since Craig took over this is the most Bond-like Bond movie. I have only seen all the others once but will be buying this one on Blu Ray. Not perfect but for me way better than the others.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I can see that. It is absolutely the most Bond-like of his movies. I am realizing that I may like my Bond movies to be as unBond-like as possible.

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  5. Carrie Rubin

    I enjoyed the movie, but like you, not as much as the others. Got a bit cheesy at times, something the Craig versions have avoided in the past (like the train scene–a white tux and evening gown? Really?). But the action was great, and honestly, I’d watch Craig in anything.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Yeah, although I have to say that I enjoyed some of those touches a lot. Yes, like the dinner jacket. There were some scenes that made me feel like it was 1963 all over again.

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  6. Nostra

    Good thing you enjoyed your martini. As for the movie itself I didn’t like the fact they started introducing those elements the first couple of Craig Bond movies successfully removed, like the stupid gadgets. I prefer it all grounded more in reality and after Skyfall found this to be a step back for the franchise. Script itself was also a bit weak in my opinion.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I think, of all the actors who’ve played Bond, Daniel Craig’s films have been the most inconsistent. Where Moore’s and Brosnan’s in particular followed such specific formulas, the approach taken to the franchise seems to change with every Craig movie. In the case of SPECTRE, it’s a little frustrating. As you said, it feels like a bit of a step back.

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    1. Matt Post author

      They had to know going in that, when you make 23 sequels, some people are going to lose interest along the way. I do feel the franchise- with the exception of SPECTRE- has been doing pretty exciting things lately. They’d been reimagining it in a way that had been long overdue.

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  7. V. Rex

    Spectre was a BEAUTIFUL movie full of beautiful people, beautiful cars, beautiful settings, and beautiful cinematography. Everything else felt half-assed and underdeveloped.

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    1. Matt Post author

      It looked great, absolutely. I’ve loved the location shots in both Sam Mendes films (Skyfall and SPeCTRE). I haven’t read much of the behind-the-scenes stuff but didn’t it feel like this was one of those movies where they started shooting before they even had a finished script?

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    1. Matt Post author

      I hope he comes back for one more. It would be nice to see him leave on a high note. I keep hearing conflicting reports about whether or not he’s coming back.

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  8. Jordan Dodd

    Still gonna see this when it comes out down here. Sucks to read more negative reviews, but I’ll be going along regardless! Hopefully I have some fun with it, I’ve read some positive things. It seems conclusive though that Waltz doesn’t live up to what he could have done with that role. He was so good in Basterds!

    Was it the material or the actor’s fault?

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    1. Matt Post author

      I’m sure you will have some fun iwht it. As for Waltz, I think it’s a combination of the character (who is underdeveloped with a bit of a cheesy backstory) and the casting (we’ve seen Waltz do all this before in better movies). Javier Bardem was so well-received partly because it was his first villains since No Country for Old Men, which was a very different villain than Silva anyway.

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  9. killkenny16

    If Christoph Waltz was in your movie there are two simple rules one must follow.
    1. Give him a character that isn’t mind-numbingly dull
    2. With that accomplished, make sure he appears for more than, what was it? Three scenes?

    Spectre is 0 for 2. Thank god for that Day of the Dead sequence, though…

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  10. bp7o9

    I disliked the yellow tone to the visuals. It worked in the opening scene. After that, it became an irritant.

    I was NOT pleased to see cheese creeping into the new franchise. Opening sequence – ugh on the CGI. Over the top and not needed. Introduction of more elaborate toys – that was a love/hate thing. A great nod to the older films, but I must admit I was disappointed to think they could take the new run to the old Roger Moore days – gadgets galore.

    A big thumbs DOWN on cinematography. Where were our exciting camera angles and edits? Nowhere. I appreciate the skill of the helicopter stunt, but all in all it lacked the crisp edge of some of the other stunts the Bond series has served up.

    Good re-write of the classic line ‘No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die’. Other than the Day of the Dead sequence, that was my favorite part of the film…which doesn’t say much for the rest of it.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I have absolutely no complains about the look of the movie. If it were up to me though, the series would have stayed rooted in the 21st century world that was established in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

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  11. DotedOn

    I’m glad you enjoyed your Martini 🙂
    I’ve only seen a few James Bond movies in the early 80’s when my dad decided to play “good dad” and give my mom a rest and take us to the movies. It was clear that he didn’t “take us” to the movies, just used us as the perfect excuse. Anyway, I only remember this creepy huge guy with a metal teeth biting a cable, I don’t even know which movie it was 😀

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  12. Amy Reese

    I love a good Bond film and you say it’s still in the top ten. I like Daniel Craig the best, so I’ll happily see it for that reason. Now, if only I could order a martini before the show! You watch these films in style.

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      1. Anna (Film Grimoire)

        I actually really enjoyed it! It definitely had its low points and its WTF moments though. Nothing will ever touch how awesome Casino Royale was, but I thought it was way better than Quantum of Solace. Probably a massive write-up incoming!

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      2. Matt Post author

        Oh, I look forward to that. I much preferred Quantum of Solace to SPECTRE actually. I liked that it built on what worked about Casino Royale. Those have got to be the two most “realistic” Bond movies.

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    1. Matt Post author

      It’s a shame it wasn’t better. They really did make a lot of questionable decisions in their approach. I still kind of liked it though, despite the fact that the last half hour or so was just plain boring.

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  13. In My Cluttered Attic

    Our family really thought this one was a fun throwback to the Connery days. And thank god they returned the gunbarrel sequence back to where it belongs—at the beginning! It just feels more like a Bond movie should when it’s there, that promise of excitement to follow. Great beginning sequence too. We loved the humorous back and forth banter between Q and 007 as well.

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      1. In My Cluttered Attic

        Ben Whishaw’s Q is a nice successor to the original Q. There were long stretches in this film where it slowed down, but the infusion of humor was refreshing. The action sequences were good, but I do miss the epic finishes of some of the older Bonds—You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Goldfinger, The Living Daylights— as those movies never let you forget the sense of fun. After all, 007 is still an entertainment. But, I love Daniel Craig and I think he ranks right up there with Connery. I also enjoyed Naomi Harris as Moneypenny. Nice review, Matt. ;o)

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  14. Pingback: In Defense of SPECTRE: A Review For the BEST of Us. | Assholes Watching Movies

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