After much anticipation for the fourth Daniel Craig driven James Bond film, “The Year of the Spy” as I’ve been calling 2015 has more or less concluded with the most notable spy of them all. Spectre is a tie in sequel to all the Daniel Craig Bonds and serves as a bit of an origin story for the character after events from Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. The film has the magnificent Ralph Fiennes returning as M, Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, and Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz. There are mysteries in Bond’s past that are coming back to cause trouble for the double-0 that need to be solved and with a far more action packed Bond film comparatively to the last three films, but if you’re a Bond fan, you have to see Spectre.
If I had to give a brief summary of the film I’d tell you to listen to the intro song by Grammy-winning singer Sam Smith titled “Writing on the Wall’. If there is one constant to this new installment of the franchise it has been these incredibly artful introductions that bring us the mood and tempos of the film. With Sam Smith’s new Bond song being far more somber and orchestrated, you already have an idea as to what you are getting yourself into. The flair for eye-popping introductions continue as we get another beautifully shot high octane action sequence during the Day of the Dead in Mexico. From the sequences full of skull costumes to the classic beautiful women and suits, you are quickly thrust into Bond once again, tailored suit and all.
What I’ve learned from other critics and movie reviewers over the weekend have been all harshly unfair reviews of what I consider a capital action film and spy flick. Expectations have loomed too high for the follow-up of Skyfall with opinions changing because the film wasn’t as close to the one prior. The film was not perfect, but what films usually are? There is something to be said about a film that has such pressures upon it, but it still holds it own and manages to (for a majority of the time) keep the audiences enthralled as well as dedicated to figuring out where the story is going to take them. The film does this by having some of the more impressive casts of people that include the names in the first paragraph. The levels of dry British humor make for some laugh out loud moments thanks to the chemistry between Bond and Q.
If there is disappointments that stood out to me, it was the fact that Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx wasn’t used enough nor was the Christoph Waltz character involved in more of the film. Bautista’s Mr. Hinx is an homage to the classic “big bad henchmen” of the Bond franchise, but sadly with only three lines, if that many, through the whole film, Bautista is more of a really large fly in the room you can’t seem to squish. Thankfully the two-time Oscar winner had the chance to speak more than three lines, but it was time well spent. Waltz brings his flare for humor filled villainy to a franchise best suited for his skills, but sadly his character was established a little too late. When Waltz does a get a chance to make his grand appearances, he takes full advantage of the opportunities and delivers the charisma we are all so fond of.
What most of us (men usually) are fond of are the Bond women, but in a world where feminism and gender equality have boomed like dynamite in our cultures and every day life, the Bond women were treated to credible updates. Then again, we get a glimpse of the endlessly gorgeous Monica Belluci as she is being courted by 007 only for her to vanish for the rest of the film, but besides that, the women in this film are established with likable tendencies while still being sexy. Sam Mendes is no stranger to creating sexual tension between his characters — check out his work with American Beauty — and he is a brilliant enough director to know that having women in bikinis and lingerie are not the only ways romance scenes need to be shot and what he manages to do with Bond and the women of the film is give them equal playing fields that allow a growth to each relationship. No more is the ditsy Bond girl from what I’ve seen. Instead, she has been substituted to have a brain and the brass within an aesthetically pleasing outer shell.
There are moments in the film that take a slow turn, but that may be the aftermath of such a kinetically driven film. It picks up modestly after the beginning of a few scenes of the end of the first act which brings it back to the pace that was established earlier, but what I fear people are doing is giving this film unfair standards to uphold as a fourth installment of what has been a resurgence of the famous spy. The action is endless and constant which then couple with an intriguing enough story to be told through some of the best direction and acting a Bond film has likely been treated with before Daniel Craig stepped into the suit. What it’s faults are can be fixed through possibly a new director’s vision and an even newer take on Bond yet again. As much as I don’t want Craig to leave, it is always best to never stay your welcome. But if you’re a Bond fan, this is a film you are obligated to see. The cast is great, the visuals have once again setting these films apart from previous, and the villain is classic. The main faults and negatives of this film are that it has a dry spell after spoiling us with so much energy and constant movement through scenes that we are going to transition poorly, but in the end, this is a quality film.