The 24th James Bond movie, and the 4th Daniel Craig Bond movie, SPECTRE, had some challenges from the very beginning. How do you possibly beat the last movie, Skyfall, that just so happened to be the highest grossing Bond film in history(grossing just over $1.1 billion worldwide)? Their best answer was to surpass their already hefty budget, and come close to $300 million, and create the costliest Bond movie ever.
This falls in line with most Bond movies as they follow a certain formula. You start with a big budget. Then of course you have James Bond, the British secret agent with a license to kill. Bond’s car of choice, the Aston Martin. The Bond girl(s). The evil villain that Bond must stop. Gadgets to help the secret agent and great action scenes, since Bond doesn’t exactly work behind a desk. SPECTRE captures all of that, but definitely had some flaws in part of their formula.
You can see the money being lit on fire while watching the opening Day of the Dead scene that has been talked about since first images of the movie were released. They always try to top the action scenes from the previous Bond movies and they certainly came close with SPECTRE. I would rank the opening scene as one of the best of all time, but when Sam Smith’s opening song started I immediately forgot the great action in the first scene and took a few points away from SPECTRE right away. That may have been the worst Bond song ever. The action didn’t stop with just the opening scene, as there were plenty of memorable action scenes throughout.
SPECTRE quickly confirmed that this wasn’t necessarily just a new entry in the Bond franchise, but rather a continuation of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall. I felt like they did a good job of wrapping things up with Skyfall so continuing the story instead of giving us a new story was a little disappointing.
If they did give us a new story, we may have gotten a better villain instead of a rehash of past James Bond movies. Going in, I really thought Christoph Waltz as a Bond villain would be magical, sadly his Oberhauser character came up a little short. He definitely had several great moments that saved him from being a total dud, however we didn’t really need him. It was hard for me to believe this was the mastermind behind everything for the last few Bond movies that Daniel Craig has starred in, especially after an amazing Bond villain like Silva in Skyfall. It wasn’t a total bust for villains, especially if you take Dave Bautista’s silent assassin Hinx into consideration. Hinx definitely ranks as one of the top Bond assassins in the franchise’s lengthy history.
It’s not a Bond movie unless you have the Bond girl and Léa Seydoux’s performance as Dr. Madeleine Swann was a good one for the franchise. She wasn’t a damsel in distress, but a Bond girl that could hold her own with Bond. Normally you see the Bond girls just hide in the corner while James takes care of things. This wasn’t the case with Seydoux’s Swann and that impressed me. It’s the curse of James Bond that he can never truly be happy, and you saw how tormented he was after he got so close to Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Vesper still has an effect on Bond all the way into SPECTRE. I’d easily put Swann into consideration for being one of the best Bond girls, just slightly behind Vesper, within the last 30 years of Bond movies.
Another Bond tradition, is having multiple shooting locations around the world. Let’s see. We had Mexico City, London, Rome, Morocco, and Austria. They got the most of the Morocco and Austria trips, as they traveled to several locations within Morocco and Austria. Filming anything in the Austrian Alps is going to be instantly successful, and the action scenes in the Alps came out to be one of my favorite parts of the movie.
Every Bond movie is a nod to the past, and after 24 Bond movies, there’s plenty to give a nod to. It was always noticeable with Daniel Craig’s Bond that they wanted this to be the new rebooted Bond, which is why I was so surprised they had so many teases to the Connery and Moore Bond movies. I can see why people might have some issue with that, even making this James Bond’s sense of humor more apparent. Craig’s Bond wasn’t just a total brute with a lack of humor in his other movies, he had plenty of sarcastic and witty deliveries. Each Craig movie has been connected, so in my mind for where the story is, it made sense for Bond to not be in mourning anymore. It was time to move on, and perhaps this is just what Bond’s personality has transformed into.
While this movie is a continuation of the story introduced throughout the last few movies, there’s some pieces that are just unnecessary, such as having even more links to Bond’s childhood, much like what we saw in Skyfall. I just couldn’t get into that aspect of the story as it was somewhat unbelievable. I felt like they could have easily opened a new chapter with this movie, and perhaps changed a little backstory to make it not so dependent on Bond’s childhood. The writer’s biggest mistake is making this a sequel, instead of a new entry. You can remember the mistake was made already with Quantum of Solace being the sequel after Casino Royale, though it felt like just a continuation in some aspects back then.
They relaunched Bond with Casino Royale, and got to a point with Skyfall where they could have had a fresh start, especially with the introductions of Moneypenny, Q, and M in the last movie. The Daniel Craig movies have never been very gadget heavy, but they could have mixed it in just enough to get the right fix. Whether the Double-0 program was outdated has been a common theme in the last few Bond entries, and you saw it become the focal point to this story. The fight just to keep the program alive is an important part to this movie, especially after the tease of increased surveillance in Skyfall, replacing the need for secret agents in the field. Whether Craig comes back or not for another movie, either way the next Bond movie will have to be a brand new chapter.
After over 50 years of Bond movies, I don’t think they’re going to stop now. Daniel Craig Bond movies seem to follow a pattern of every other one being really good, so if that’s the case I think we need Craig back for one more.
It’s not the best Bond entry but definitely not the worst. It was a solid entry that encompassed everything we know and love in a Bond movie. It has flaws, but makes up for it with the action and Bond girl.
RELEASE DATE: November 05, 2015 | WATCHED IN: Theater | FORMAT: Normal | RUNNING TIME: 2:30