‘Spectre’ Is The Same Old 007 Spectacle

SpectreIn the event that you like numbers like I do, try this on for size.  Spectre is the twenty-fourth James Bond film.  That’s important because twenty four is an even number (also the name of a once great television show) and you can divide it by two.  Haha.  I have no idea where I’m going with that so let’s move on.  What’s even more important than the useless trivia information I just armed you with is the fact that Daniel Craig is back in the titular role and once again we have a whole lot of continuity to play with in the Bond universe.  Despite not being the biggest fan of Skyfall (I have my reasons), continuity is very important in my life and within the movies I decide to view, but I digress.  Let’s talk some Spectre!

So as I already said, Spectre finds Daniel Craig reprising his role as James Bond for the fourth time with this new series re-introducing the character of Ernst Starve Blofeld, played by the very talented Christoph Waltz (don’t think Dr. Evil here).  Other recurring characters from Craig’s storyline include those of M, Q (Ben Wishaw) and Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris).  What’s more important is the fact that there’s a walking piece of art is in this one.  Monica Bellucci, still radiant as ever now in her 50’s, is officially the oldest Bond girl ever in the twenty-four picture franchise.  That’s okay!  I’m only ten years behind her.  Fifty years old is sadly not a stretch for me anymore (sigh).  Guardians of the Galaxy Dave Bautista (as Mr. Hinx) and Lea Sydoux (as Dr. Madeleine Swann) round out the cast.

Sam Mendes follows up Skyfall in the director’s chair this time again working off a script by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth.  Geez.   That’s a lot cooks in the kitchen.  Rumor also has it that Spectre had a budget of $300 million making it tied with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as the second most expensive film ever made.  Any guesses as to what number one is?   I’ll let you do your own research.  What’s important here is whether or not all that money spent makes this a good film or in my wheelhouse, is it one of the best Bond films yet?  It already grossed more than 80 million alone last weekend in the UK, but I digress.  These questions and more I hope to answer for you in the following paragraphs.  So let’s move on.

The opening shots of Spectre, for lack of a better word, are quite spectacular.  You don’t get more bad a$$ than mixing James Bond with the skeleton outfits of the Day of the Dead celebration down in Mexico City.  If the whole movie looked like this I would have nothing to nitpick about, but it does not all play out like this unfortunately.  Things kind of get lackluster real quick for me in the intro department (compared to the opening events of the last three films).   I apologize, but I’m so used to the adrenaline induced openings like what we saw in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and even Skyfall too, that the first 15-20 minutes of Spectre just felt a little flat to me.   In defense of the film, there’s luckily plenty more action to go around.   However, the action is not what makes a good film.   It’s the story and ultimately the pacing too, something the last Bond flick and this one now have had a problem with.

The storyline of Spectre is rather boring at times.   I found myself more engaged in this go around than I did with Skyfall, but nothing I felt I had to hurriedly write home to my hometown of Cleveland, OH about.  Spectre kind of felt like a convoluted Mission Impossible film more than a solo Bond outing.  I love the fact that the continuity from Casino bleeds over into this one with many familiar faces, but it ultimately was not enough to save me from the overdone by now, completely contrived family plot lines.  I mean Jesus Christ, wasn’t it enough in Skyfall?  No.   We have to sit through more boohoo moments with Bond and his family tree.  Yawn.  Been there, done that.  The family plot is what destroyed 24 in my opinion and it has also shattered my fascination with the world of Bond I fell in love with in Casino Royale and even Quantum, forgiving it for all its mistakes (it was during the writer’s strike after all).

Now I know with the paragraph up above its going to come across like I hate Spectre, but I don’t.  Yes, it felt forced.   Yes the villain was once again underdeveloped and underutilized, but it is the charm of Craig and the wild action ride the franchise takes us on that really kept me invested here.   Heck, I didn’t even mind that God awful Sam Smith song now that I had visuals to go by.  It’s the slow moments, and don’t get me wrong Casino had plenty too, that really undid it for me here.  Thank God there was an action sequence on the train scene because I nearly fell asleep here and if that would have happened, it would have been lights out for good. The fact that the film’s runtime is almost two and half hours doesn’t help much either, but I enjoyed Casino very much and it was equally as long.  So what it is about Skyfall and Spectre that don’t sit extremely well for me?   It has to be that boring family plot.  Otherwise, Spectre delivers on all the usual Bond essentials: the gadgets, fast cars, girls and the over-the-top villain.  I’m going to pause here because this is a nice time to segue into Waltz’s character of Blofeld.

Waltz doesn’t disappoint in the role of Blofeld, but I gotta admit, his character’s introduction and even eventual injuries seem very forced and shoehorned into our story.  I would have much rather seen him introduced in the previous Bond film or two and have him in our face in this outing than the way his character is handled here.  I did not have enough time to “bond” with him.  Sure he is stereotypical of the Bond and even Austin Powers franchises, but that doesn’t mean he is unnecessary and/or unwanted.  He is sorely needed in this film and Daniel Craig franchise, but maybe, just maybe, his character could have been fleshed out more.  I understand the mysterious enigma of the guy n the story, but give me some more screen time with the man to enjoy his menacing behavior.  It was, however, pretty rad to see his henchman, played by Bautista, in full assassin mode.  He was a very worthy adversary to the physicality of Bond where Blofeld is more of the mental challenge to 007.

Last but not least, let’s chat about the women of Spectre.   There’s an old Kiss song called “Love’em Leave’em.”   When it comes to a 007 picture, that pretty much sums it up.  However, our 21st century Bond does have a soft spot sometimes and Spectre shows once again it can be his undoing.   What happened to the cold sentimentality of Bond in the past two pictures?   It’s gone.  Yes his b1tch from Casino Royale may be long gone, but Bond went and did it again.  He found another main squeeze sadly not full-time in Monica Bellucci (someone more his age), but that in the is she even eighteen years old looking Lea Sydoux.  While I did not enjoy, nor do I endorse this new romance, it is what it is.  That’s how it was written.  There’s nothing I can do about it again.  It’s clear to me that Craig wants nothing to do with the Bond character ever again, unless there’s a huge payday in it, but the Bond character wants nothing to do with him also.  It’s sad, but true.  There’s no need for him in this new world, at least where our picture leaves off.  That’s all I’ll say there.

So there you have it.  That’s my take on Spectre ladies and gentlemen.  Sometimes you just got to take the good with the bad.  Does it look like $300 million dollars?   Not to my untrained movie budget eyes it doesn’t, but whatever.   What I most care about is it delivered on the action and gave me one last a$$ kicking time in the ring with Daniel Craig.  That I cannot fault Spectre for.  It just did nothing to further the character of Bond.  It was the same old trapped in a world like they felt they had to pay homage to nostalgia of the the 1960’s instead of moving the story forward in a Bourne-like fashion like that promised us in Casino Royale and Solace.  God, how I miss those Bond flicks.  I want something original.  I want something sweet.  If I wanted pancakes, I would have ordered pancakes.

Spectre Film Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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