It has been a glorious ride through twenty-four films and over fifty years, but Spectre is the James Bond we have long waited for: an incredible, gripping and intelligent spy thriller.
Rather than stick to a formula, Spectre soars to new heights!
From out of the depths of the rushed Quantum of Solace, which was fun but lacked any real substance due to the studio’s impending bankruptcy, director Sam Mendes crafted a gem of a James Bond picture in Skyfall.
And Sam Mendes has gone far and beyond expectations for Spectre.
The opening scene features a vast Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertes) parade in Mexico City, and a feverish attempt at an assasination, which, alone, probably cost more than the production of the last Bond flick.
It has everything you expect: eerie elements in the shadows, a seduced woman leading Bond to his target, and a balls to the wall chase leading to one of the most insane mid-air grapples from within an open helicopter. The scene gets the blood pumping.
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Ever since the revived story of James Bond was begun anew using realistic themes and offering a smart, gritty thriller, fans of the James Bond books and movies alike have been clamoring for the intricate terrorist and criminal network behind much of the world’s organized crime and corruption for the politicians in power to be revealed.
In the books, and the first movies, the web was slowly unraveled to reveal the preemptive fictitious evil organization Spectre.
The first movies are, of course, classics and great, in and of themselves.
But their progression of the character of Bond and the discovery was not as congeal as it could have been (in part because of issues with the film rights to the novels).
Skip forward to the 21st century and Casino Royale through Spectre; we have a planned approach to give viewers a dramatically different journey through an ever darkening and twisting plague of crime.
Casino Royale introduced the world to Daniel Craig – arguably the best rough and tumble Bond since the master Sean Connery – and the movie leans heavily on Ian Fleming’s source material, while adding in many contemporary elements, to revive the James Bond franchise (that nearly died due to ridiculously exaggerated stunts (fun though they are) and gimmicks, all amidst progressively degrading storylines).
The first book for James Bond, Casino Royale, had a great origin of the character and a love story that needed no Hollywooding to dumb it down.
The broken man, having lost his love, Vesper, consoles himself with sex, near-death experiences, and a life as a spy who is licensed to kill for his country.
Silva’s resources could not have been entirely self-reliant, as is proven true in Spectre.
The movie franchise may have been hurt by a sub-par follow-up in Quantum of Solace, but director Sam Mendes and his team took a maniacal demon of a villain in Silva and delved deeply into not just Bond’s past but also that of Judi Dench’s character M to weave a great tale in Skyfall that made us forget the bump in the ride.
This is important for Bond's character and for the very organization of Spectre and their influence on the world.
And as 007 follows up on a lead and heads into a secret meeting of their members, the face of a dead man James once knew greets him and orders his death for interfering. goes after not just the agent but the entire intelligence community around the world.
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The political elements are used brilliantly, as the Nine Eyes, nine intelligence agencies, are working together under the plan of Spectre to place their citizens under increasing surveillance and to then pool their resources, which is reminiscent today of security agencies and their governments pooling their efforts, as was revealed by Edward Snowden and others.
Mentions of George Orwell, the author of 1984, as the new M (played by the brilliant Ralph Fiennes) scrutinizes the newly appointed Head of the Centre of National Security, C’s plan (played very well by Andrew Scott), to set up one complete unified system for spying on citizens everywhere, working off of all country's tools, and this resonates deeply with today’s increasingly frightening surveliance society.
Increased terrorist plots lead to the apparent need for increased surveillance, of everyone, and this makes the MI-6 way of doing things obsolete.
The fight is then brought within the government, as M and company are being shut down at the same time Bond works to infiltrate and kill the head of Spectre . . . who turns out to be none other than Blomfield!
Christoph Waltz breathes new life into the character, as his devious, ruthless, genius, and powerful personality culminates in an unpredictable and realistically insane villain.
Blofield’s torture of Bond is one of the most painful in the franchise’s history, and many in the theater will have to look away during this cringe-worthy scene.
The throwbacks to the previous Blofield are all there, sitting subtly in the background (or on Bond’s lap), and Sam Mendes has done the near impossible: he bridged the greatness of the old with the new in a manner akin to what J.J Abrams recently did for Star Trek.
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The classic elements of Bond are all there, from the sensational car chases, to the HUGE explosive edge-of-your-seat moments.
Daniel Craig is at his best, which is saying something.
The character continues to grow, as Craig plays him, and the evolution is natural, which has been seriously lacking in many of the previous Bond versions on film.
Though the making of the film was one of the toughest things Craig has done, he has also said he would relish playing the role as long as he is physically able. We should all hope that he is able for many years from now.
Overall, this movie is well written, intelligent, and sensational in its spy thriller aspects, and though it may not be perfect, as Casino Royale and Skyfall flirt with being, it is damn close and very fulfilling for Bond fans.
Impulsive REVIEW GRADE: A
"SPECTRE is the Bond Film We’ve Been Waiting For" was written by R.J. Huneke
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