James Bond has been with me for most of my life. I found this love of MI6’s top agent from my dad. It was a great day when a new 007 click would come out in theaters. My dad and I would make our plans and check out the latest from Rooger Moore, then Timothy Dalton and finally Pierce Brosnan. I end with Mr. Brosnan because by his fourth movie I was out of the house and starting my own family. I have passed on my addiction to several friends. It’s a wonderful disease. James Bond has been a consistent friend for 38 years.
Needless to say, when the latest Bond film was announced and all the press materials showcased the return of SPECTRE, I was thrilled. 007 was always at his best when he was fighting against the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (SPECTRE). Sure the group was lampooned in Austin Powers movies, but they were always an organization to be feared. But how could they realistically be brought into the Daniel Craig Bond era?
Luckily, Eon productions had done their work early on by laying the foundation for the secret organization in Craig’s earliest turns as Bond. Casino Royale set up the idea, Quantum of Solace showed us they existed. Skyfall kept the idea running. And now finally with SPECTRE we get to see behind the curtain.
Let’s start at the beginning. I wasn’t thrilled with the opening sequence of SPECTRE. I thought the imagery of Mexico City during the Day of the Dead holiday was great, but it didn’t make much sense. And when it was all revealed, the connections were so loose, it became obvious the setting was an unnecessary gimmick. Then, of course, we roll right into the opening credits. I am not a musician, nor pretend to have a vast musical knowledge, but I really did not like Sam Smith’s On the Wall. Add to that the lame visuals and this was one of the weakest credit scenes I can remember.
Luckily from there, things begin to look up. SPECTRE takes Bond back to some of his roots, which has been running complaint during the Daniel Craig era. 007 and M (Ralph Fiennes) have their typical meeting, a back and forth on Bond being punished for going off the grid and M’s need to reel him in due to constant pressure from superiors. We also start to see a lot more humor infused in Bond’s dialogue and set ups, including a great scene with 007 seeing his latest amazing car. But Q (Ben Whishaw) breaks some bad news to him. No joke, hilarity ensues.
There are also a lot of scenes that brought back memories of earlier Bond flicks, specifically the snowy allergy treatment facility in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and of course the actual meeting of SPECTRE from the early days of Thunderball, among others. Even Dave Bautista’s turn as over-muscled henchman Hinx harkens back to the days of Oddjob (Harold Sakata) in Goldfinger and Donald “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw) in From Russia With Love.
There have been tremendous rumors regarding the identity of SPECTRE’s big baddie. It’s not my place to confirm or deny them here. However, I will say I like how James has bonds to Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) and the character’s evolution to 007 nemesis makes perfect sense. Given that relationship, I do hope we see more like it in future Bond films (so minor spoiler, bad guy doesn’t die). I also hope we see Hinx again, a la Jaws (Richard Kiel) appearing in several films (ok, another minor spoiler, the henchman doesn’t necessarily die).
Perhaps my biggest disappointment with SPECTRE was the dismissal of Quantum of Solace. The 22nd entry in the Bond franchise exists. It was not that bad. I actually enjoy it. And most importantly, we get to see James Bond interact with the secret organization for the first time when he attends the opera in Austria. This was fascinating. Yet every allusion to SPECTRE’s movements in Craig’s prior films neglect to include Solace. This is an obvious omission for specific reasons. I didn’t appreciate that. It felt like a bait and switch. Like we made millions from a movie, but it got bad reviews, so in the end we’ll pretend it didn’t exist. Lame in my opinion.
Despite several negatives, I thoroughly enjoyed how M, Q, and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are actively involved in the movie. They take part in the action by joining in with Bond and his need to take down SPECTRE and save the day. There is also a fantastic cameo by a beloved character. I did not expect it, yet it sets the whole story on its path. It was perfect. I also completely agree with Daniel Craig, Monica Bellucci is gorgeous.
Overall, I think this was a middle of the road James Bond film. It didn’t hit the levels of amazeballs of Skyfall and it certainly didn’t hit the drudgery of Octopussy. I have made a spoiler filled video in which I speculate on a potential follow up film, which if true, would make this film a lot better. But that’s the best I can do, speculate/hope those ideas come to fruition. For now, I just have SPECTRE.
I give SPECTRE 3 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
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