Spectre (2015)

spectre_2015_poster
Spectre (2015)
  • Time: 148 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Thriller
  • Director: Sam Mendes
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Monica Bellucci

Storyline:

After the events of Skyfall, Bond has come out a troubled man. His mentor, M, is dead. MI6 is crumbling under a newer, high-tech organization led my the mysterious Max Denbigh. However, while in Mexico City, Bond finds an Italian hitman trying to bomb a major parade, and stops him. He finds a ring on his finger with a strange symbol on it. When he soon realizes that this symbol is showing up at terrorist attacks all over the world, he must traverse the world to find out the truth behind the chilling organization known as Spectre and his blood-curdling connection to it and it’s leader.

6 reviews

  • Quickie Review:

    After receiving a message from his past James (Daniel Craig) is compelled to take on an unauthorised mission. While MI6 struggles to show the relevance of the 00-programme in the modern era of intelligence, James uncovers the truth behind the secret world-influencing organisation known too few as Spectre. Spectre while not the best of Craig’s Bond films, is definitely a worthy addition to the franchise. The film is filled to the brim with incredible action set pieces and acting talent. However the weakness of the movie is glaringly apparent in its inability to make the threat of the villain feel menacing. Spectre despite not being the complete package manages to be stylish and entertaining.

    Full Review:

    Though I was not a fan of Quantum of Solace, I really enjoyed the other two Daniel Craig Bond films. With Sam Mendes returning as director and stroke of genius to cast Christoph Waltz as a Bond villain, I was excited to see Bond’s new spy adventure. In the end Spectre did not meet my high expectations, but that not at all means it was a bad movie.

    Sam Mendes directorial style is instantly identifiable from the opening sequence. There is clear intention behind how he uses the setting to establish the tone of the scenes. When the pace is slowed there is tension building from the rhythmic beats and movement of the camera. That built tension is paid off with the thrilling action set-pieces that balances right at the edge of chaos. This happens throughout the movie and is absolutely thrilling! The cinematography of the  film sucks you right into even the quietest moments, and that makes the rather long 148min runtime feel like it passed by swiftly. Most importantly, Daniel Craig has really grown into the James Bond role with all his mannerisms, humour, and flirtatious charm we’ve come to associate with this iconic character. This is the most Bond we’ve seen him yet, so for the Craig doubters out there, you can go into this movie a little less worried. Also the supporting characters M, Moneypenny, and Q had more of a part to play, even some going into the field to help out. Since Bond is always portrayed as a one man army, it’s a nice change to see his team take more initiative in the mission.

    Spectre promised to show how Bond’s past comes back to haunt him. While that is achieved to a certain extent, it all feels undeserved because nothing has been done to set up the reveal. It ends up coming off as an afterthought put together haphazardly. However, the most disappointing of all is the misuse of Christoph Waltz. Look I get it, Spectre the organisation as the name implies is supposed to be elusive, including its leader. Still by keeping him in the shadows till the very last act leaves his goals and ideological ambition lacking significant impact. In contrast Dave Bautista posed a much bigger threat physically, and I was hoping Waltz would be his intellectual equivalent.

    There is no denying there are few major issues and yet I must admit I had fun with Spectre. The potential to create a new iconic Bond villain was a complete missed opportunity, causing me to not resonate with Waltz’s character. Aside from that there is little to complain. It’s a cinematic experience from beginning to the end. So suit up, grab a glass of martini shaken not stirred (drink responsibly), sit back, relax, and enjoy the spy adventure.

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  • “The dead are alive” are the four words that kickstart the 24th installment in the Bond series, a franchise that has resurrected itself time and time again from the throes of extinction. Titled Spectre, the latest offering is replete with ghosts of Bond films past but, more specifically, with the ghosts of the previous three films in which Daniel Craig has reigned as 007.

    Spectre begins in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead procession with Hoyte van Hoytema’s camera weaving in and out of the congested crowds, pausing to take note of a man dressed in white before following a masked couple into a hotel, up three floors, into a suite where Bond reveals himself beneath the skeletal mask, leaving his latest dalliance in bewilderment as he casually steps onto the window ledge and makes his way across the rooftops to take his position across the building in which the previously seen man in white is discussing a pending bomb explosion. It’s a remarkable opening scene – a minutes-long tracking shot that pays homage to Orson Welles’ legendary long take in the south of the border noir Touch of Evil – but it is only an amuse bouche as returning director Sam Mendes follows it with a decimated building, a foot chase through the sea of paradegoers, and a fistfight in a helicopter hovering uncontrollably above the heavily populated main square. Bond, as always, gets the job done, pulling a ring with an octopus symbol off the man in white’s finger before the tentacular opening credit sequence commences.

    Craig-era Bond has been re-establishing the character in the modern world and, though Skyfall effectively reset that particular clock, Spectre grapples with Bond’s seeming obsolescence in a world where his job could be conducted by a machine. Certainly a machine would be easier to control – Bond’s penchant for unauthorised missions has ruffled M’s successor (Ralph Fiennes), who is in the midst of a power struggle with the ambitious C (Andrew Scott), the newly appointed head of the recently merged M15 and M16 who means to deactivate the ’00’ program. M not only grounds Bond, but orders Q (Ben Whishaw) to implant a microchip in the wayward agent to keep track of his whereabouts.

    Naturally, Bond disobeys M. As he explains to Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), the Mexico mission was ordered by M (Judi Dench) in a videotaped communication before her death. The man in white was Marco Sciarra and Bond travels to Rome to attend his funeral and seduce the dead man’s wife (Monica Bellucci) into revealing the meeting place of the clandestine organisation of which her husband was a member. Bond discovers the organisation is a shadow conspiracy responsible not only for a recent string of global attacks but also directly involved with the deaths of Vesper Lynd and M, the two most important women in Bond’s life. The cabal’s mysterious leader, Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), has a most personal connection and agenda with Bond, and has long lain in wait for their fateful encounter. Waltz, muting his jolly menace with blank serenity, is terrific and a most worthy successor to Javier Bardem’s unforgettable Raoul Silva.

    Léa Seydoux shines as the deliberately Proustian-named Madeleine Swann, a psychologist working at a medical clinic in the Austrian Alps, the daughter of an assassin (Jesper Christensen), who holds pivotal information about Oberhauser and the organisation, and a strong-willed woman who arguably understands Bond’s inner workings better than anyone. If there is a quibble to be made about Spectre, it is the relationship between Swann and Bond, which is posited as his most stirring connection since Vesper Lynd. Despite Seydoux’s seductive presence and the actors’ chemistry, their union (which could be Bond’s salvation) never fully registers. The problem may lie in the long shadow cast by the bewitching Eva Green, undoubtedly one of the best Bond girls in the history of the franchise. One could well understand how his doomed romance with Green’s Vesper turned him into an emotionally armoured killing machine. Vesper has haunted him through Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and now Spectre and woe to any woman for competing with her memory for Bond’s heart.

    Spectre pales in comparison to Skyfall, which set a gold standard for the series, but, in and of itself, Spectre is an excellent entry. It does well to integrate the supporting characters of M, Moneypenny and especially Q (the tremendously endearing Whishaw) into the framework of the narrative, and continues with the Craig-era tradition of tweaking Bond’s classic “shaken, not stirred” mandate for his martini. The action sequences are superb – aside from the breathless opening set piece, there’s a tense throwdown on a North African train that pits Bond against Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx, a secondary villain very much in the tradition of Richard Kiel’s Jaws and Harold Sakata’s Oddjob. Continuing with the film’s reworking of past Bond moments, our man James is bound and sadistically tortured; instead of a laser inching towards his manhood, it is the thinnest of drills threatening his memory.

    Then there is Craig himself, a British bulldog whose swagger has deepened with each film. There have been rumblings that Spectre may be his swan song, which would be a massive shame. His Bond is second only to Sean Connery’s, restoring the cruelty beneath the imperturbable demeanour. Craig brought a complexity to Bond and his portrayal has been pivotal in restoring the franchise’s standing in the past decade. More than anyone since Connery, Craig’s will be the most difficult shoes to fill.

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  • We all have a favorite form of Bond, whether it’s Connery, Moore, Brosnan, or God forbid Lazenby, Craig has also become a memorable one.

    These past years, Daniel Craig has done something new for James Bond. Bond, besides being a cool, confident machismo agent, provides a gritty, no stunt man needed- role. This seems to be his last film. after all, Craig has shown no signs of wanting to continue his role, which is understandable, as he suffered lacerations, broken bones, and even a sliced off finger tip.

    With the success of Skyfall, the most successful, grittiest, and darkest Bond film ever made (along with the grittiest and darkest) is followed by the now fourth Daniel Craig Bond installment, Spectre, featuring an actor that seemed destined to play a Bond Villain: Christoph Waltz.

    The opening scene in Mexico City was mind blowing, as the establishing long shot led to 007 fighting in an out of control helicopter above a celebrating crowd, which led to a sweet-but-not-so-Adele intro song, Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On the Wall.” But instead, the film goes digital, with information being the center character.

    With 007 causing too much damage in Mexico City, MI6 is looked at as an outdated organization, leading the new leader, C, to focus on data collection and tracking to prevent catastrophes. Bond is grounded, but goes rogue as he tracks down the origins of the person he killed back in Mexico. It leads him to a crime syndicate, only known as SPECTRE. This syndicate is planning to create a surveillance network, which they will control and keep every government agency under watch. The meeting is put to a halt when Franz Overhauser recognizes James’ presence and soon leaves to find out where he can find “L’Americana” and Oberhauser.

    Here’s where Spectre shows it’s lack of creativity, as the rest of the story is one that we’ve seen before (and quite recently actually). Mission Impossible V and Spectre followed similar story lines: their respective agencies are threatened with a shutdown and takeover, along with their agents become rogue vigilantes chasing something that only a few people are on to, and even some of the places they go through (London, Austria, Morocco). This film wasn’t as dark as the previous Bond film was, nor was it as absurd as the Brosnan films, leaving the use of gadgets and the plot to be a miss.

    For Christoph Waltz, he was menacing as he performed his lines with such disdain towards Bond, but not as much as we would have expected. After his performances with Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, his role as Spectre’s Bond villain wasn’t as memorable as people would have thought. His “unmasking” made his entrance intimidating, making the later talks between Bond and Oberhauser looming and frightening, especially when Bond is brutally tortured.

    Léa Seydoux as the newest Bond Girl brings a classy but cliché perspective, which is a shame, since the role of Bond women has been dumb down a bit. She does her part well, but when Madeleine Swann says “I love you” to 007, you can only roll your eyes.

    Director Sam Mendes comes back from Skyfall to give us another eye- popping movie full of great Aston Martin scenes and action scenes that you would expect from this franchise, especially with Dave Batista constantly being on 007’s trail as Mr. Hinx.

    It isn’t as spectacular as Skyfall, but isn’t as atrocious as Quantum of Solace, but not as subtle as Casino Royale. Spectre won’t be a hit with the Academy, but perhaps only to the true Daniel Craig/Bond fans.

  • The estimable British director Sam Mendes stands Spectre on two narrative frames. In the first and last battle two huge old edifices are spectacularly blown up. The image evokes the recent destructions ISIS has wrought on ancient emblems of civilization.
    But the second frame rejects the political reading of the film in favour of the psychological. In the pre-title sequence James Bond (Daniel Craig) steps out of a Day of the Dead skeleton suit, then even more surprisingly steps out of a seduction, to pursue his license to kill. The last scene plays out another return from the dead when Bond drives off in the resurrected Aston Martin that Q had rebuilt from from its last surviving gene, the steering wheel. In another resurrection dear old M (Judi Dench) on a tape from beyond the grave despatches Bond to kill her killer. Though the new British intelligence head is bent upon ending the license to kill, temporarily abetted by the current M (Ralph Fiennes), Bond purses his mission to the end.
    No, almost to the end. On the last bridge Bond stops short of killing his arch-enemy Blovelt (meister creep Christoph Walz). In order to start a new life with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), whose father Bond promised to protect her, Bond holds his fire, tosses his gun into the Thames and walks away from his role as legitimate angel of death. He steps away from death in favour of love and life.
    The plot enters on Bond’s psyche more than on global politics. In fact, the dangers of corrupt surveillance also has a psychological dimension, the assault on the private self. The villain Blovelt, who has caused all Bond’s pain, is the son of the man who saved young orphan James. Out of jealousy Blovelt killed his father and devoted his life to building a global evil to thwart his heroic step-brother.
    As the film probes Bond’s subconscious, in two dramatic sequences of Bond plunges into dark depths to save himself. In the spirit of openness and exposure, here the lovers’ first sex scene cuts to a long train on an open desert,in contrast to the famous tunnel cut in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
    So the film is a valedictory to the old James Bond. This Bond saves civilization from an international conspiracy that reaches into the highest office in British intelligence. But his key victory is over his personal demons. He uncovers his supposedly dead Shadow, Blovelt, and abandons his liberty to cause death, however virtuous his cause.
    What saves Bond is — spoiler alert — the love of a good woman. She’s not the first, but she is the first he saves from Blovelt, which suggests she embodies a romantic future quite different from his past. Her name is a live giveaway: Madeleine Swann alludes to the madeleines that trigger Proust’s memories in his classic Swann’s Way. Here she triggers the release of the hardened, suppressed killer into a man of love. There may be more James Bond films ahead, but this psychodrama articulates Daniel Craig’s departure.

  • (Rating: ☆☆½ out of 4)

    This film is mildly recommended.

    In brief: More of the same, less of the thrill

    GRADE: B-

    In the latest film version from the successful James Bond franchise, number 024 to be exact, the formula is king. Heroic spy vs. evil supervillain. Check. Spectacular stunt work and speedy car chases. Check. Intense action sequences and fiery explosions. Check. Exotic locations and political intrigue. Check. Sexy women and double entendres. Check. It’s all there and the filmmakers rarely stray from their set course in Sam Mendes’ Spectre. That decision may again make the movie a real crowd-pleaser, but it also makes it rather predictable and dull, leaving this reviewer partially shaken but not very stirred.

    For those of you who do not know the backstory, Spectre has been a global terrorist group that has been in Ian Fleming’s novels from its first inception. and Mr. Bond, that is, James Bond, has been on a personal crusade to stop their evildoing. The script takes our resourceful operative to various international locales, from Mexico, London, and Italy to Austria, Tangiers and back to London again, as he battles this organization. This screenplay-by-committee (John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth, a talented lot) sets up the action in a stunning opening set piece during the Day of the Dead celebration with some nifty helicopter combat. (As we normally expect from the series, the opener is a real zinger which is followed by artsy credits with silhouetted babes and title tune sung by a popular contemporary singer). This leads us to our main story and Bond to his ultimate mission as he tries to discover the whereabouts of the mysterious Franz Oberhauser, the head of this organization, presumed dead.

    Solidly directed by Mr. Mendes, Spectre is fine entertainment, although it is more of the same and less of the thrill this time around. The actors are all strong in their roles, especially Daniel Craig who single-handedly helped the series’ continued success with his modern day spin on our anti-hero. His arch rival, played with standard menace by Christoph Waltz, doesn’t have enough screen time to establish his nasty credentials and there needed to be more one-to-one stand-off opportunities between the two characters that are sorely missing. Lea Seydoux as Bond’s seductive love interest, as written, hardly registers as Bond-worthy. The chemistry between the two actors never charms and is the chief misstep in this film. Also on hand lending strong support are Ben Whishaw as Q, the nerdy gadget maker, Naomie Harris as his loyal Miss Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, the newly appointed boss of M16, Andrew Scott as C, a global surveillance advocate who wants to phase out the outdated 00 agency, and its license to kill, and the burly Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx, a prototype of another previous bad guy from the series named Jaws, here with all the muscle and without the metal dental work that makes Bond’s adversary memorable.

    The action is non-stop, deliciously illogical, and over-the-top as usual. The so-called twist is obvious from the start. The end result is thoroughly expected. The aforementioned script uses its convoluted plot without much of a payoff and tries to establish some character depth but lacks the witty banter and engaging dialog that is part of the series trademark. Instead, its focus is on the many action sequences which are filmed in style by Hoyte van Hoytema. Production values are high and the budget is big and expensively mounted, although Thomas Newton’s score remains loud and intrusive throughout the film’s long 2½ hour length.

    Yet, Spectre, while diverting and interesting, fails on its mission to impress moviegoers with any originality and real suspense. This 007 is more like a 006 on the rating meter.
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  • Spectre Movie Review The 24th Bond movie in the film franchise had big aspirations when they decided to bring back the classic Bond enemy organization, known as Spectre. The opening scene, for the first 2 minutes, looked like one consecutive shot, and the visuals in Mexico City looked great. It really brings you into the movie and gives you a great set up. However, it doesn’t reflect the tone of the rest of the movie.

    On that note, neither does the famous Bond credits sequence. No offense to Sam Smith but the song that was chosen just doesn’t work for me. It’s hard to compete with Adele, but Smith’s song feels a bit too similar to Skyfall, only not as great. There are a few good musical cues but overall it just a bit lack luster and doesn’t really reflect the movie. The visual sequence that accompanies the song is not really any better. It hits you over the head with the octopus theme by showing multiple visuals involving an octopus figure. We get it, Spectre’s logo is the octopus, we could tell from the silver ring that Bond takes at the end of the opening scene. It just feels silly and unnecessary.

    When Christophe Waltz was announced to play the villain in Spectre, I thought that it was a great decision because he’s played the bad guy role so well before. The problem is not with the actor but rather the character. He becomes a generic Bond villain, less engaging than Javier Bardem’s Mr. Silva from Skyfall. There is no mystery with the character, even though the movie tries to make it a mystery of who he is; but it’s very predictable. Speaking of villains, another under utilized villain was Dave Bautista’s, Mr. Hinx, whose name is never mentioned in the movie. Mr. Hinx is a silent henchman reminiscent of Oddjob from Goldfinger. The difference is again what they gave the villain to do or in this case not do. At least Oddjob had the hat that could slice things off, Mr. Hinx seems replaceable. Another thing the movie failed at was hiring actor Andrew Scott, known for playing the villain Moriaty on BBC’s Sherlock. They mine as well put a sign on his characters head. They’re fooling nobody with this casting choice.

    Even though there is a lot of “bad” in the movie, that doesn’t mean that I thought every thing was bad. I really enjoyed Q’s role in this movie, being the classic gadget giving Q as well as taking a more active role in Bond’s mission. The actor Ben Wishaw, who plays Q, is great in the role, playing the nerdy scientist but bringing a new refreshing take on the character and how he interacts with Bond. Similarly I also enjoyed the new incarnation of Moneypenny, who also becomes more involved with the mission. While I will miss Judy Dench as M, I did think Ralph Fiennes did a good job in the role.

    The action scenes in the movie are hit and miss, there’s a few good throwbacks to some classic Bond tropes and scenes. While I do like Daniel Craig’s Bond, he seems to be a bit out of it for most of this movie and it shows. The last problem I had with the movie was the main “Bond girl”, I felt the two had no chemistry and it didn’t make sense why she would be on the mission with him. This movie is trying to set up that Bond has moved on from his love in Casino Royale, Vesper Lynn, and that maybe he can leave his spy life behind. The message is clear; however I don’t think that it was executed very well.

    While I may not think that this is the best Bond movie every, and I’ve noted the many problems that I had with it, there is also enough good for me to enjoy it overall. Being the longest of the Bond movies probably doesn’t help with the pacing, but this is not the worst Bond movie ever. I believe there is enough good in this movie that it should be seen at least once.

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