i know, as was the case with The Martian recently, that i am somewhat late to this party, look you see. there's a somewhat celebratory perception possible that writing anything about Spectre now is rather academic, for the significant percentage of people interested in it will have either read the script from the infamous "Sony hack", seen it at the cinema, watched it via one of them not so legal download things or, like myself, bought the shiny optical disc of it. but, you know, here we go anyway.
a quick, at a glance and importantly spoiler free review before we continue? sure. it's a pretty good and entertaining film, but there's huge problems with the world of the new style James Bond. if you've seen the many comments around that Spectre is "boring", it's not with reference to the film itslef (it isn't); it is with reference to the messy hole they have dug for the rejuvenated concept.
right then, below the image the text should be considered as having every potential to have *** POSSIBLE SPOILERS *** within the words, as far as spoilers are possible in the world of Bond. James Bond, that is.
my perspective on Bond? Roger Moore is the one i grew up with, so he is my favourite. Goldfinger is, however, to me, the textbook best Bond ever. i wished Dalton got more of a chance at the role, and Brosnan started well and went downhill very fast. Daniel Craig has been good - Casino Royale a bit dull, Quantum Of Solace great and far better than the criticism it gets, and Skyfall was a masterpiece. my views on Bond are not presented as in any way definitive or arguably correct; rather they are given so you know where i come from when speaking of the subject.
plot? the film commences with Bond absolutely knacking Mexico City in order to kill someone, with their death being for reasons unknown. it turns out that an even greater knacking would have happened without the death of that person, but all the same Bond's bosses - facing weirdly very accurate real world foreshadowing of the world in which Jeremy Corbyn lives pressure to stop 00 agents from killing - are unimpressed and "ground" him from further action. this of course does not stop him, least of all not when it is revealed exactly what caused him to go off on a knacking spree in Mexico. off Bond (that's James Bond) goes, then, and faces (insert cliche reading font here) a battle not only to save the free world, but also one with his past. and it's that latter part where the major problems with the film comes in.
the idea of a rebooted, hardcore, gritty and 'realistic' Bond was a good one. it actually happened before and got rejected with the way ahead of its time Licence To Kill. the major problem here, dear reader, is that this reboot has now taken the form of a direct lineage of Bond films, as in to be able to watch Spectre and fully clock what's going on you would have had to have seen the first three Craig Bond films, and in sequence too. the beauty of all other Bond films, even the latter, awful Brosnan ones, was that they were self-contained, and that you could pick any of them up to watch and enjoy with no prior knowledge required.
i do know that in this day and age "franchise" is the buzzword for making money in movies. Lord Of The Hobbit, or whatever the one with the gay midgets was called, Star Wars, the Marvel comic films and whatever they are doing with Batman and Superman are all massive money makers. what the makers of new Bond have forgotten, however, is that Bond was the original franchise model. making films connected is fine, but they shouldn't be dependent on seeing all of them to make sense. in that regard, this is the third film on the bounce where the whole "00 Licence To Kill" agent concept is within the film pictured as being a relic, an outdated approach to world problems. this, as a plot device, to me anyway, is seriously starting to tell the audience that you are wrong to be watching and enjoying, then, and they've spent about $300million making a blockbuster where you are supposed to view the protagonist in a bad, best forgotten light.
other than prior knowledge being required to understand the "battles his past" elements of the plot, there's the problem of just how small and limiting they have made the new Bond film. the borderline oedipal relationship they gave Bond with the original M was bad enough, but now really do we simply have to have a family / close family history relation between Bond and other, central and significant characters in each film? it's just groan inducing, and a certain quasi-sibling relationship in the film feels lame, contrived and pretty much spoils the entertainment factor.
any positives? stacks of them. if you have happened to have seen the three previous films you can just get on with enjoying the very good if somewhat flawed plot (why would the person who sent the message to Bond to kill in Mexico, for instance, wait to share world-saving information until the point that they did share it?) and enjoying the remarkable, very awesome action sequences. and in respect of action sequences, the return of an arch enemy henchman is a very, very welcome one.
having that Bautista fella off of wrestling and Guardians Of The Galaxy play mostly silent and wholly deadly killer Hinx is the crowning glory of the film. it evokes memories of previous fear inducing enforcers, notably Oddjob and Jaws, without ever running the risk of being either a parody, a direct copy or a "homage". hopefully this character returns.
elsewhere, Ralph Fiennes is as superb as you would expect as M. Christoph Waltz is effective, given his limited screen time. Ben Whishaw as Q carries off very well the only dynamic of the "Bond is a relic" premise that actually works. the much vaunted presence of Monica Bellucci is damned impressive for the time it lasts. Léa Seydoux delivers a fine performance, considering she has to balance the odd dynamic of being a "classical Bond girl" and a modern empowered female lead.
Daniel Craig? tough one. this is rumoured to be his final outing. to say that he has been better than how Pierce Brosnan turned out is something of an understatement, for by Die Another Day anyone from Pauly Shore to a member of the Busey family would have been a better Bond. whilst Daniel Craig has been superb, due to the nature, tone and connectivity of his four films one suspects he won't be as fondly loved as Moore or Connery in the role. maybe, perhaps hopefully, i am wrong, and those that grew up watching these ones will feel of him as i do Moore.
ultimately, Spectre is a very good and entertaining film, held back by the need to be familiar with the three previous films. the consequence of that, i suspect will be that it will not do well with repeat viewing over the decades as has been the case with Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Live & Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, GoldenEye, etc. it's disappointing that they've taken Bond to a point where it gives a one shot chance of entertainment rather than being something which can be watched again and again.
where next for Bond? good question. quite possibly a new actor in the lead, and hopefully a return to the self-contained story approach to the films. no matter what they do, or which direction they go in, no doubt i will be watching anyhow.
well, there you go. i can but hope and trust this comments, observations and thoughts have been of some passing interest to someone somewhere! well, not somewhere i suppose, here on this blog, unless for a quite bizarre reason a fellow internet presence has copied and pasted this to pass off as their own.
wait, what about the Oscar winning theme song? sorry, i am not allowed to discuss it any more, although there is a blog post on it - back from a more innocent time - over here. now is not, sadly, such an innocent time. the song or if you like theme has stopped being simply a James Bond theme and has become a bizarre, ridiculous focal point of an argument concerning who is the most gay person to first win an Oscar. this would be a matter that is none of my concern and not of my interest, thanks. just dig the music for what it is, not who the person who made it happens to be.
anyway, that will do. no, i know nothing further of the rumours that Christopher Nolan will be directing the next Bond one, but i sure do hope they are true.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!