Featured Post

Letterboxd Reviews

So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Movie Review - Spectre

Spectre (2015)
Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista, Rory Kinnear, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, and Ralph Fiennes
Directed by Sam Mendes

While Spectre never hits the exciting levels of Skyfall, nor reaches (or even really tries for) the emotional peaks that its Sam Mendes-directed predecessor achieved, Mendes' return to the James Bond series is still a solid entry into the Daniel Craig-era of the super spy pics.  Whereas Skyfall was a character-driven piece that focused not only on Bond, but also the people and fellow agents closest to him, Spectre places the emphasis squarely back on the suave, debonair, and kick-ass British agent. Here Bond receives a message from someone in his past who tells him that a large heretofore unknown organization named SPECTRE is up to some sinisterly deviant deeds.  With the '00' sub-sector of the British Intelligence Agency under attack by "C" (Andrew Scott), "M" (Ralph Fiennes) is forced to allow Bond to try and uncover SPECTRE on his own without the aid of those who've helped him in the past.

Spectre works in nearly all aspects, but its ultimate "problem" is that it's not as good as Skyfall in any facet -- action scenes, emotional scenes, villain, character interaction, title song.  That's not to say that any of those aforementioned qualities are bad in any way, but Skyfall was so good that nothing quite reaches its levels in Spectre.

Still, what Sam Mendes brings to the Bond table is something that most action franchises would kill to have in their repertoire -- a director who understands how to capably film action sequences in a way that adds excitement while also allowing the audience to completely understand the visuals of high intensity quick-motion sequences.  The opening scene of Spectre as an example showcases Mendes' talent -- we get a very long single take shot that obviously adds to the tension (impressive in and of itself), followed by an explosion, and ending with a stellar sequence shot in a helicopter that had me hankering for more when it was finished.  Throughout this entire opening scene (which must have lasted close to fifteen minutes), Mendes displays a variety of different techniques in making an action scene work -- one of which being a slow burn followed by intensity -- all the while making every single obviously implausible aspect seem totally believable and absolutely comprehensible to the viewer.  Just try watching a Transformers movie or even The Avengers (I know, sacrilege to say such a thing about the latter) and really tell me if you can comprehend every single moment of every single action sequence.  Mendes has really elevated the entire genre with his two Bond films and considering this wasn't even the type of film he was known for helming prior to this, it's even more of a coup for him.

I, for one, will miss Daniel Craig as James Bond should Spectre be his last film, but I must admit that Daniel Craig is the only James Bond I've ever known as I've yet to watch any other Bond flick.  Still, Craig brings a debonair demeanor that seemingly masks a darker side of Bond which we've come to discover over these last two films in particular.  His Bond has been given a lot of depth beyond being just another ladies' man and while credit is certainly due to the writers for exploring this aspect of the well-known character, credit must also be given to Craig himself.

Still, the film doesn't quite achieve the levels of Skyfall -- the villain Blofeld played by Christoph Waltz is one of the larger reasons for this.  Waltz is playing the exact same character we've seen him play in seemingly every other movie he's been in over the past eight years since he really popped onto the scene.  Calmly maniacal, I'm tiring of his same-old schtick and while it's not necessarily his fault that his character is so squarely in his wheelhouse, it is his fault for not expanding his own wheelhouse.  The lack of Judi Dench here also is a bit of a detriment (but one that we're going to have to get used to) and the film doesn't help this loss much having Bond be separated from the new M, Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Q (Ben Whishaw) for long periods of time, missing the witty repartee Bond has had with these characters in the past.  (Seriously, the next film needs to expand Naomie Harris' role...please...she shows such potential and she's nearly wasted with nothing to show.)  However, Spectre is a solid action picture and one that shows that the Bond franchise is still alive and kicking.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

No comments:

Post a Comment