Spectre: Slightly Stirred, Not Shaken, by Rudie Obias
The James Bond series is the longest-running film franchise in motion picture history and has found itself at a very interesting point. It was re-invented and rebooted in 2006 with Daniel Craig as the new Agent 007. For the first time ever, the films felt like true sequels rather than one-off adventures. Now, despite the new life and blood injected into it, Spectre sees Bond doing the same things he always does time-and-time again. He keeps to the formula.
British intelligence no longer relies on superspies in the field, preferring wiretaps and overreaching monitoring of citizens. The British government is rendering James Bond and MI6 obsolete, while a mysterious new threat lurks in the shadows ready to strike. Bond must try to bring down this new crime organization, while not getting caught by his new masters. It’s a spy trope that we’ve seen, most recently with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but spy tropes are what the James Bond film franchise excels at.
After the worldwide success of Skyfall, EON Productions must have felt like it needed to replicate that success, but with something bigger and more grand. The end result is something that is a complete mess – a rather beautiful looking mess with cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema, but a mess nevertheless. It’s overlong and banal, but checks all the boxes needed for a James Bond movie. And in that way, I think Spectre is a successful James Bond movie for longtime fans, but pretty tedious for those just coming to the franchise because of Skyfall. Since the franchise is over 50 years old, there are definitely highs and lows throughout the series. Spectre is not a high or a low, but it’s somewhere in the middle. And as a Daniel Craig James Bond movie, it’s one of the better ones.
Skyfall director Sam Mendes returns to helm, and he doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to the action, delivering some of the best in the franchise. He runs into problems with the scenes between the action, as Spectre doesn’t really come together or flow as one might expect from an actual movie. It trades in the tension-filled moments from Skyfall with goofy ones that will please fans, but alienate general moviegoers.
Daniel Craig is great as James Bond, but the standout is Dave Bautista (Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy) as Mr. Hinx, the villain’s henchmen. He has such a great physicality and screen presence that you just don’t find in action movies anymore. He also has a great sense of timing that separates him from other “musclehead” actors. Bautista has a genuine sense of menace and dread with a few light and comedic moments. He’s found his niche in Hollywood and he should keep excelling at it.
Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld is also quite good, but we’ve seen him do better work with Quentin Tarantino. The Bond Girls in Spectre have nothing really to do and I think it’s a sin to waste a perfectly good Monica Bellucci in a movie, while Léa Seydoux never quite fits as Dr. Madeleine Swann. She’s a fine actor, but she just seems out of her depth in Spectre. I just don’t buy her in love with James Bond. Craig and Seydoux just don’t have any on-screen chemistry.
Spectre is a fine movie. It’s not as good as Skyfall or Casino Royale, but much better than Quantum of Solace. It’s perfectly suitable for James Bond fans, as we’ve seen the British superspy in worse outings. The franchise is a victim of its own success. Spectre had to be bigger than Skyfall, but it came at the expense of its plotting and story. Hopefully, James Bond will return for better things.