Thoughts on the latest James Bond film, Spectre
I am truly surprised. My views of the Bond franchise following the departure of actor Pierce Brosnan are admittedly biased. I simply don’t like Daniel Craig and his contribution to the series. However, I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed Spectre, in contrast to the previous few Bond films. I don’t consider them bad films, just not in keeping with the spirit of previous films in the series.. A few years ago, I wrote a research paper about the franchise, which can be found here towards the bottom of the page. It describes my belief that James Bond is a representation of escapist culture, particularly among males. I argued this via recurring themes of the franchise, which I will use to assess my impression of Spectre.
In terms of the score, I felt that Sam Smith was an excellent choice for the title sequence. Previous Bond films capitalized upon popular singers known to whatever era in which they were released. The music video effectively mirrored a classic Bond style and even reflected the opening of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by giving a brief recap of prior films in the midst of it. As for the rest of the music, each moment was accurately expressed via music in a way that felt natural.
Having only two sexual conquests, this film was considerably lacking. This is not to say that I’m in support of philandering or misogyny. Unlike most Bond girls, Madeleine Swann didn’t play the submissive damsel in distress the whole time- but when she did it wasn’t out of her character, nor did it come across as a trope. Even Moneypenny turned down Bond’s advances at one point.
As far as Bond’s choice of getting around, the updated Aston Martin design made for an interesting chase, though not particularly exciting. Nonetheless, maintaining such an icon was a good choice. The best Bond chase sequences are always ones in which he’s outclassed. This film featured Bond in a plane chasing cars, and not the other way around, making for an interesting result. All of the action scenes in general were excellent, starting off right away with an exhilarating helicopter fight scene.
The plot was nothing extremely distinct. Bond doing his own thing under the radar, and then eventually leading to something his superiors have an interest in. Predictable, but not in such a way that’s worth critiquing. Bond films have never had amazing plots, in fact often times they’re nothing short of ridiculous. Spectre may not have been the operation grand slam of Goldfinger, but overall it provided an engaging enough story. It was refreshing to see Ernst Stavro Blofeld again, as his last appearance was in For Your Eyes Only, released 13 years before I existed.
Bond films have always done an excellent job of exposing its audiences to beautiful locations and cultures. The film begins at a Dia De Los Muertos parade, harkening back to festival scenes somewhat reminiscent of Thunderball or Moonraker. The set design lacked the extravagant nature of Ken Adam’s design, but was made up for by the visceral and frequently changing locations that the film took place in. Blofeld’s “lair” of sorts is nestled within a desert crater, which is a nice replacement to his previous volcano location in You Only Live Twice.
One of my favorite aspects of the Bond films are the various gadgets doled out by Q. Many of these are unrealistically situational, often only coming back the minute they’re forgotten about. This was, of course, the case with Bond’s watch in a life threatening situation.
Overall, I would give it a solid 8/10.
Spectre restored my faith in a seemingly obsolete franchise by effectively combining various aspects of films past in a modern and engaging fashion. To put that more simply, the fan service was simply amazing. As a long-time Bond fan, I believe other fans like myself will be glad to see the series returning to form.
M. Stuart Persson Chicago based writer, editor and social media coordinator with a never ending passion to both be inspired and inspire. I’m a wave about to splash