I am a huge James Bond fan even if I don’t love every James Bond movie. Casino Royale was amazing and then Quantum of Solace came in and stunk up the place. Then we were given Skyfall, an amazing movie and my favorite Bond film of all time. So to have the entire creative team come back for SPECTRE made me incredibly excited.
Life got in the way of me seeing SPECTRE for far too long. This is the first Bond film I didn’t see on opening night since the 90s. But I finally did get to see it and I have to say, the mediocre reviews and sup-bar box office performance has me stumped because this is a fantastic James Bond movie. Here are 5 reasons why but be warned, they have some SPECTRE and Skyfall spoilers after the break.
1. The opening. That is a fantastic Bond opening. From the opening long shots (designed to look like a single shot but I saw where they broke it twice) to the helicopter fight it was the perfect introduction to a Bond film. It wasn’t a perfect scene, just a perfect Bond scene. As a real life moment, it’s a bit confusing. An entire building has just exploded and collapsed and that causes barely any panic–a parade still continues a block away. But the moment a helicopter starts acting a little wonky a giant square full of people freak out. Because movie logic. But it was still a fantastic series of events that puts you in the action and still raises some questions.
2. The villain twist. The idea that Christoph Waltz as the bad guy (which we all knew) was also Blofeld (the famed supervillain of previous Bond films and the rumor for months) wasn’t the real twist–the twist is that Blofeld was Bond’s sort-of brother and connected to Skyfall. When Bond’s parents were killed he was taken in by Blofeld’s father–Bond’s connection to that father led to Blofeld going nuts and killing his father, which probably resulted in Bond having even more issues that he channeled into becoming 007. It may seem gimicky but it works amazingly with the theory that Silva (bad guy in Skyfall) was actually M’s son. I’m a believer in that theory (both because it’s well reasoned and makes Skyfall that much better) and it makes perfect sense given this revelation. Blofeld, intent on messing with James not only as payment for interfering with his business but also for messing with his life would absolutely be the first to manipulate M’s son into becoming her killer. That this might injure James directly or indirectly is all part of his psychotic planning and it works. The cuckoo motivation (I mean that literally as expained in the movie) also works with the broader attempt to explain the previous movies as well (even if that’s a bit convoluted).
3. The agent vs. assassin idea. There are several moments where the idea of a secret agent being the same as an assassin for a covert organization (SPECTRE) aren’t all that different. When Bond finally confronts his old nemesis, Mr. White, they are enemies who know each other. Both considers the other a paid assassin for a larger organization. Mr White calls Bond an assassin, and although Bond never returns the label others do and we all think it. It’s an interesting perspective–especially when you consider that Bond has a license to kill and does so without asking why when told. Case in point: this movie all starts with him killing someone that M told him to kill in a video. No additional information on why, just kill this guy. The comparison of evil to necessary evil is an intriguing one and has never been as overt in the Bond series as this film. We even have a new head of the intelligence organization who’s actually in league with Spectre, so how different would Bond (or the other 00 agents) if we learned that his boss had different motivations than safeguarding their country?
4. The other bad guy. Because no Bond film is complete with one bad guy, this movie actually had four. Mr. White, Blofeld, Mr. Hinx (another Spectre muscle played by Dave Bautista), and Max Denbigh who is given the nickname C by Bond. Wait, Bond gives nicknames? Is he like the Cisco Ramon of the Bondiverse? C was an amusing, if wimpy, villain. He was more the embodiment of some evil out there than actually dangerous. But you have to love the casting of Andrew Scott in the role. Anyone who’s watched the latest BBC series of Sherlock will immediately recognize him as Moriarity and of course he’s going to be a bad guy. I’m not sure why Dave Bautista was put in a role that required no lines–he may not be ready for a role in Shakespeare but he’s shown he can perform in Guardians of the Galaxy.
5. What Bond does to Blofeld at the end is actually worse than killing him. Sure, it’s a bit silly that Blofeld leaves Bond with just enough time to actually save the girl and the day. Typical Bond villain monologuing ruins evil plans just about 100% of the time. But that’s forgivable in light of the ending after Blofeld’s helicopter crashes and James confronts his evil sort-of-brother. Blofeld wants to die, he wants Bond to finish him off. Bond doesn’t, dropping his gun and letting M arrest Blofeld instead. Which seems like a nice contrast to that whole assassin vs agent dichotomy until we remember the earlier part of the movie where Blofeld tells us all that Bond just did something worse. During an earlier Blofeld-monologue he discussed how Mr. Hinx gouged out someone’s eyeballs and how it was so interesting that the man was still alive but wasn’t really there. Like it was a fate worse than death for that brief moment. By the end of the movie, Blofeld has had his eyes removed as well. First, one eye was blinded in the explosion James caused by shooting the inconveniently-designed-external-pressure-gauge-that-once-shot-will-cause-the-entire-compound-to-explode. And the second eye removed from Blofeld was the intelligence system he engineered to have government agencies flow all information through Spectre. This new system was his other eye and Bond has just destroyed it–the computer system and the secrecy that allowed it to be created in the first place. Sure, Blofeld has one actual eye, but two other eyes have been removed and now Blofeld is left to linger until his actual death. Or the next movie. Whichever comes first.
Score: 009 out of 0010 licenses to keep making more Bond films!