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Spectre: A Solid Addition to the James Bond Franchise

November 5, 2015

Spectre

Bond films are rarely judged as a single entity. There is so much baggage associated with the Bond world that is is hard to review one of them without drawing comparisons from 50 years worth of super spy antics. I feel bad for Spectre because it will always live under the shadow of Casino Royale and Skyfall. However, Spectre is a solid addition to the Bond cannon and gives viewers what they want (explosions, martinis, beautiful people looking beautiful).

The film revolves around Bond hunting down a mysterious group called Spectre. His travels take him all over the world and find him engaging in martini drinking, fist fights and fitting into readily available tailored clothes. As Bond’s antics stay the same the world around him is changing. His rogue antics add fuel to the fire for intelligence agencies who want to trade out agents for drones. The license to kill agent is becoming obsolete and it gets to the point where he is injected with smart blood in order for M (Ralph Fiennes) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to keep track of him. Eventually, Bond goes AWOL and and it leads to a lot of death, sex and dastardly villains.

As always Christoph Waltz is fantastic as the villain. My favorite moment of the film involves him monologuing whilst wearing loafers without socks. He is a bad guy with style and I love how Waltz plays up all the bonkers traits that make Bond villains memorable. He is the world’s smartest man yet he inevitably places Bond in easy to escape situations and plays way too many games. Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) is fun as the the mute (ish) villain Hinx. He may not be as personable as Odd Job or Jaws but his physicality adds another level to the fist fights. The guy can fight and his brawl with Bond aboard a train is brilliantly brutal and fits right alongside the From Russia With Love train brawl.

I missed  cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall, Prisoners) but I thought Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar) did a fine job making the action and people look great. I am 100% certain that specific shots were created just to show off Daniel Craig and new Bond woman Lea Seydoux.

Lea

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What I loved about Spectre is how much care and art they put into the action set pieces. The opening scene in Mexico is a beautiful combination of steadicam work, fantastic costuming and a whole lot of tension. It is the best part of the movie and I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into creating the Day of the Dead parade. I think it might be my favorite of all the Bond cold opens because of the sheer size of it all. It is a brilliant way to open a film and I 100% think it has the best usage of a couch in any Bond film.

Bond

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What I appreciated most about the action is that it furthered the story. I dug how the action moved along the plot points, got expository dialogue out of the way and taught us what we need to know about the characters. Whether it be incredibly expensive super cars racing around Rome or an airplane chasing down cars in the Alps they further the story organically. It was really cool to see how director Sam Mendes incorporated old Bond tropes (skiing, chases, car gags, train fights) and made them fresh again. I had a smile on my face during the action scenes because they played with the familiar but added enough of a twist to make them exciting. That is why people love Bond films. There is a sense of familiar even as everything is changing. Sam Mendes paid respect to the fans and I hope they notice.

Spectre is a solid addition to the Bond cannon and I think it is better than any of the other Bond actors fourth entries (Tomorrow Never Dies, Moonraker, Thunderball). I can’t wait to add this to my Bond Blu-Ray collection and I hope audiences appreciate the amount of work that went into making this a solid film.

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