Action Movie Friday: 007, Spectre

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: 007: Spectre
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 2015
Genre: spy, action, thriller
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth, Ian Flemming (books)
Distributor: Columbia (Sony)
Budget: $245 Million
Box Office: $880 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65%

Gingersnaps Rating: Four and a Half cookies!

Summary:

The Double Oh program is on the verge of being shut down, and 007, James Bond is on a secret last mission from the former head of MI-6, M. Following her directives, Bond has gone rogue He comes upon the organization behind the organization, Spectre. Seeking out the Pale King, Bond promises to save his daughter, Dr. Swann, if she will help him find the head of Spectre. In London, the new head for the Centre of National Security questions the use of old spy methods and is set to start a new surveillance system. M, Q, and Moneypenny have to put their trust in Bond and he faces his past, finds love and has to save MI-6 from being shut down.

Review:

Spectre is currently the last film that Sony had the rights to distribute. So, it’s fitting that they tied up their four film run by trying to explore more of Bond’s past and tie up some of the loose ends lying about and bring Bond full circle. Firstlove/death, grief/revenge, the past, letting go/love. Though the tagline in the beginning was tacky and so unnecessary. It added nothing to the film overall.

Once again, Spectre addresses issues that are timely at last in the first world. With cameras, spy satellites, phones, are physical spies really all that necessary? Could drones do the work of spies? And I really do have to applaud the casting crew on choosing some of the most insipid, soft spoken, mealy mouthed actors to play the villains in these films. Andrew Scott played a very soft spoken Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock and he brings that exact same type of creepy limp handed feel to Spectre. Real villains aren’t like this. You can’t just look at someone or hear them speak and know they’re bad people. However, in Bond, that is the route the casting chose to take for their villains. Perhaps the strongest of the villains is Mr. White, the Pale King or even the General from Quantum of Solace, who was a different type of creep. Mr. White would just kill you. The General would torture and rape you first. Anyways, it was an interesting choice, along with an interesting choice to have no female main villains.

Spectre is one of those weird movies where they were trying to do too many things almost and were moderately successful, when the reveals came there was no emotional impact to them. This could be in part due to Bond’s rather cold and pragmatic nature or just bad set up all around. It is uncertain with the clues they used to set up the plot whether or not there was even supposed to be a twist. In short, we are told a lot of things in this film without really being shown them. And someone likes to tie Bond up in these films, this is the third of four films where Bond was strapped or tied to a chair in some way and tortured.

All in all, the plot was pretty straight forward. There were a lot of explosions, car chases, and expensive looking fights, but nothing that really kept me riveted to the screen. The dialogue was as usual punchy. But sadly, there was no chemistry between Craig and Lea Seydoux. Bond’s choice at the end wasn’t in doubt, but didn’t feel quite genuine. So upon reflection, I’m going to give this a solid three quarters of a cookie. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t stellar either.

Explosions. Yes. There were three of them. I know where the extra fifty thousand dollars went into production. One cookie.

Fights. The fights were good. There were more car chases and such in this movie than fights, but the fights there were, were entertaining though I’ve seen some of the tricks before. Lea even got into the fight on the train instead of cowering. So, I’ll give it a cookie.

I don’t know if this is a spoiler or not, but, none of the women in Bond’s life died in this film. Eve, Madeline and Lucia all made it out the other side of this film alive and intact (as far as we know.) I now fear for the next movie. What will become of Madeline? They’ve already kidnapped her ‘for plot.’ For a woman who is supposed to be capable and good at hiding, she meets Bond and doesn’t do that well at either trait. Please, do not tell me these things, show me these things. Despite her repeated kidnappings, Madeline has some agency in the film. She chooses to tell Bond what the La Ameracaine is and to go with him to Spectre headquarters. She chooses to step away from it at the end of the film because she doesn’t want to be swept back into that life. On the other hand, she is still the repeated damsel in distress for Bond to “save.” Part of this is Hollywood and part of this is source material. And part of this is just me getting annoyed. I hope they bring Madeline back. I hope they don’t kill her. I hope that she actually does prove to be capable and good at hiding. My hopes are not that high that this will actually be the case. I’m going to take one bite out of the cookie for this wishy washy behavior.

The film opened with Bond managing to escape a collapsing building followed by a fight in a helicopter probably doing things that no helicopter can do by the laws of physics and survive. It sets the tone for the movie so bulletproof cars, ejection seats, escaping blowing up buildings with seconds on the clock and so on seem actually feasible. They are gradually integrating old Bond movie tropes from earlier Bonds into the movies. So, where will they go next? What old technology will they adapt for a new Bond? Always entertaining to contemplate. One cookie.

Spectre is a somewhat quiet and rather flat Bond film. While there are plenty of fights and explosions to keep things entertaining and the story is set out in a linear way. The film never manages to quite hit riveting. Four and a half cookies.

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