By Philip Schweier
November 16, 2015 - 12:15
Starring: Daniel Craig
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: EON Productions
Running Time: 148 minutes
Release Date: Nov. 6, 2015
Rating: PG13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
after more than 50 years, the James Bond film franchise continues to evolve to
keep up with the times. Skyfall (2012) ended with a return to a simpler
premise, with M (Ralph Fiennes) sitting in a quiet office, handing out
assignments to his double-0 operatives in the name of Her Majesty’s government.
I found it disappointing that the follow-up, Spectre, did not continue
What follows is a bit of spoiler. Sort of.
Our hero returns from a mission, only to be scolded by the head of his national
security agency for going off-script. Said agency on the brink of being made
redundant as science and technology has revolutionized the intelligence
gathering process. Agents in the field may or may not have a role, as computers
can target and assess potential threats. The head of said agency is not likely
to go quietly into retirement, turning our hero into a rogue agent of sorts.
There is a clandestine meeting in the agent’s apartment; his dead superior
sends him on an assignment to challenge a threat to their organization. Who do
Eventually said agent is teamed with a woman, and together they locate a hidden
computer facility containing decades old equipment and intel. Clues lead the
pair into the lion’s den, where they discover the villain of the story is
someone from the hero’s distant past. A world-wide organization of evil, with
an stylized octopus logo, has corrupted their national security agency, and is
on the verge of launching its technological threat against the innocents of the
Escaping, their course is clear: with what few allies they have left, they must
infiltrate their former headquarters, where a villainous traitor, once an ally,
is awaiting them.
But enough about Captain America: Winter Soldier. We’re
suppose to be discussing Spectre, the latest James Bond movie. But is it
a James Bond film? Yes, of course, with all the tropes we’ve come to expect
from a James Bond film: the girls, the gadgets, the opening song, the
The famous Bond girls include a villain’s widow, as we have seen previously in
such films as Casino Royale, and the daughter of Mr. White, who was
featured in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Bond locates her
in a health resort high in the Swiss Alps, much like the Piz Gloria featured in
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Bond’s infamous toys are somewhat at a minimum. The only one we see is an
explosive wristwatch (previously seen in Moonraker), though the
gadget-laden Aston Martin (last seen in Skyfall) does make an
The villain is Ernst Stavro Blofeld (previously seen in the James
Bond franchise). He is aided by a Mr. Hinx, a giant of an assassin with
metallic body parts (previously seen in Live and Let Die and
Moonraker). But in a fist fight aboard a moving train (previously seen in Live
and Let Die and Moonraker), James Bond defeats him. Bond later uses an
explosive wristwatch (previously seen in Moonraker) to destroy Blofeld’s
headquarters, which is hidden in a crater (previously seen in You Only Live
Spectre makes a number of references to prior Bond films, beginning with
skeletal figures in top hats during the opening sequence. Blofeld’s Neru jacket
(Diamonds are Forever), his cat (Diamonds are Forever), and his
(You Only Live Twice) may be intended to reinforce
the character’s history within the franchise, but if that’s their only purpose,
then they serve no purpose. “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” is
often a direct path to failure.
Overall, I haven’t seen so many touchstones to previous Bond adventures since
Pierce Brosnan’s final outing, Die Another Day (2002). That film
reinforced the idea that from time to time a successful film franchise will
descend into self-parody. Producers and screenwriters, believing they have a
captive audience, perhaps grow a bit lazy in their efforts.
The expectation is that Spectre is
Daniel Craig’s swansong as James Bond. While I appreciate how Casino Royale
reinvigorated the franchise, the nine years since have been a mostly downward
slope. While we may see a new actor in the role in the years to come, perhaps
it’s time for new personnel behind the camera, as well.
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