Spectre – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

spectreSpectre – 3.5/5 – James Bond is one of the most iconic names in the film industry.  The movies of espionage and spies have gone through many incarnations, but one staple has been the James Bond films.  Through the decades, we have seen some highs and lows; but through it all they have all been enjoyable.  When it comes to this latest installment; Spectre is a film that has a lot of great moments and characters, but is bogged down by a very cliché and sometimes retcon like script.   In the end, the spectacle, allure and aura of 007 is what keeps you watching.  Spectre might not be the masterpiece of spy films; but it is one hell of a ride.

Premise: From a cryptic message in his past; Bond follows a trail that uncovers a sinister organization.   With political battles arising on one end and terrible truth of this organization; Bond must find a way to keep the world he knows from falling apart.   He must find the truth behind Spectre

In the lead role for this fourth installment is Daniel Craig.  There is really not much you can say about him in the role of James Bond.  Through it all (regardless of quality of the film), he has been the stall worth of excellence.  His suaveness on screen exudes the qualities that make James Bond who he is.  Calm, collective and always calculating; he just knows how to make the right moves.  Even in the direst of situations, his demeanor is one of confidence.   He masks nothing, and leaves all on the line with brevity and strength.   Outside of Craig, the returning cast does just as well in providing quality and distinction to this world.  Each of them (Ralph Fiennes as M; Ben Whishaw as Q; Naomie Harris as Moneypenny) adds quality in their secondary position, which helps James Bond’s ‘quest’ in this film.  For the new comers; you have:

Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser

Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann

Dave Bautista as Hinx

This three add some flavor to film, but in a very contextual way.   They represent the typical archetypes that are found in any Bond film.  Waltz Oberhauser is the ‘Mastermind/Villain’ above it all; Seydoux’s Swann is the ‘Love Interest’ and Bautista’s Hinx is the ‘Hired Muscle’.  Even if there is a lack of any real character development; they still add (on the surface) some value to the mission and the Bond lore.  The acting carries each of them through their roles, adding slight depth within the one-dimensional characters.   With the rest of the cast; they are just left to being ‘background noise’ for the film’s progression.

The direction of this film is one that keeps the movie above water.  With the same director from Skyfall; he plays along his brand of ‘methodical’ pacing; revealing story elements slowly as the film progresses.  Whereas that helped the last film become one of the best in the series; it doesn’t help here.   The big difference is that the ‘lack thereof’ in the writing comes to light because of this direction.  The story is very convolution.   The premise of this film is that Bond is tracking down a ‘suspicious’ lead left by the deceased M.  This reveals layers of an underground organization hiding in the shadows and pulling the strings through it all (including previous films).   As we move along, the relevant information that is ‘subtlety’ hinted in the beginning by method direction aren’t hidden very well.  It is obvious where the film is going; who is working for whom; and what will be the ultimate confrontation.   The convolution comes from this predictable nature and trying to retcon the past films into one bigger web.  This undermines the ongoing individual stories in this film as well as the spy elements; creating forced drama, unneeded connections and some weak dialogue when it comes to motivation, plot points and overall cohesion.  Even with the glaring holes, the film stays strong (ironically) because of the direction from Sam Mendes and the overall allure of James Bond.  The characters; action sequences and music keep you focused on the spectacle and the typical ‘Bond’ tropes.  This ‘retro’ flavor of espionage, Bond’s individualism, the love interest and ultimate confrontation with the villain harkens to something that is familiar but entertaining.  The convolution happens within the second act; where the first and third acts do a great job in adding uniqueness’s to the situational theme of ‘agents vs. 21st century technology’.   With the bookends having more superior context then the bulk, the film has strength in its own right.  Once the film moves into the final act, it is a mixture of bombastic elements with characterization that presents the idea of purpose, worth and the meaning of being a real agent.   As the film winds down into its epilogue, it is all more fitting to what we know about James Bond.  The film ends on a note that is both open ended for something more but closure to this era of Daniel Craig as the iconic character.

The visuals of this film are beyond typical.  Whereas the script is a bogging mess; the cinematography is breathtaking.  From exotic locales and sweeping vistas to the ‘grounded’ aspect of the streets of London and Mexico City; you feel present for the spectacle.   The irony of the lavish nature is that it is built upon the ideals of simplistic focus; keeping the camera on areas that isn’t out of the norm for an espionage film.  It allows the scenic motions to play along with the characters; becoming its own personality.  The music is common for a James Bond film; but deterring from something that is very recognizable is something you don’t do here.  The music gives the film its heart.  From the iconic opening sequence song to the outstanding orchestras used through the action scenes; the score doesn’t disappoint.

Spectre is a film that is full of a lot of greatness from the characters and action/espionage sequences; but it tries to hard with creating a bigger plot then needed.  Overall; if you’re a fan of James Bond, spy films or Daniel Craig; there is fun to be had here.  I recommend this as a weekend outing, a good time with friends of the same likings.

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