Spectre (2015) has tricks
Spectre (2015) is not a one-trick pony, although it recycles a LOT of stuff. James Bond the action star is back again, but that’s no surprise. James Bond the nostalgia giant returns as he was in Skyfall and in fact, there’s a lot of stuff recalling Skyfall, but that’s no surprise because Spectre has the same writers, the same director, and the same crew. The movie reminds us of what happened in Skyfall and has some of the same beats, just done a little differently. I do think the action in Spectre (2015) is amazing and tops all the Daniel Craig movies to date, including Skyfall, so in that way, Spectre succeeds.
Daniel Craig is back with his slim fit suits and subtle sarcasm, which works well. There are a few more gags and comedy moments, like when he tries to activate a gadget in his stolen DB10, but it doesn’t work, much to his dismay. It’s great. I like all the short moments of humor, because they’re all well-placed and well-written, unlike the jokes in the Pierce Brosnan movies. I don’t think this is Craig’s best performance, as that would either be Skyfall or Casino Royale, but he does a good job.
The supporting cast is great, even the ones with only a little screentime. I didn’t realize Andrew Scott was in the movie, and I was happy to see him there. He could have just as easily played Blofeld as anybody, but he plays another villainous role instead, which is sorta disappointing. I know he can dominate the screen, because I’ve seen him as Moriarty on the BBC’s Sherlock, where he’s REALLY villainous. Christoph Waltz underplays his part as the main villain, and needed more screentime. I guess he’s alright, but I’ve seen Andrew Scott do more with his dialogue on television. I’ll always wonder what Scott could have brought to the role of Blofeld.
Spectre has a LOT of nods to prior Bond films and there are many moments of nostalgia. They haul out the DB5 for my fanboy moment and I was happy to see it, but the DB10 satisfied me too. One scene did bother me though. Bond stalks down a hallway, and Blofeld has set up some pictures of people who have appeared in prior Bond movies, like Vesper Lynd and LeCheffrie. The pictures remind us that everything is connected and the main villain is even MORE villainous than those other guys in the pictures. If that didn’t get the point across, Blofeld tells Bond later that he’s orchestrated all his pain. Okay, we get it. You’re evil.
Along with the repetitious nostalgia moments, the plot is also a throwback. It feels like Skyfall. Some more of Bond’s past comes back to haunt him, but this time he doesn’t run off to hide in a mansion. The plot recycles the “spies are outdated” plotpoint from Skyfall, which is once again resurrected to plague Ralph Fiennes, in order to give him something to do. Bond goes rogue again, and that’s not new either. However, Bond jets to more locations than usual and it didn’t really feel like a retread because the scenery always felt unique and fresh.
Honestly, Spectre has all the ingredients I like in the Daniel Craig James Bond movies, because Sam Mendes literally brought in the good things from every one of them. There’s a Bond girl that falls in love with James Bond, as in Casino Royale. There’s a desert location and a big explosive finale, as in Quantum. Mr. White is back and acts as a transition to the next locale. And on and on. Actually using the good things about the past helps Spectre, because it never uses any of the crap. Sam Mendes has actually learned what works, and his Bond is very entertaining.
At the end of the day, this movie was a lot of fun. It had everything, including a Bond torture scene which made me squirm. Léa Seydoux does a good job, but probably will be compared to Eva Green, which is a shame because they’re both pretty good at bringing more to simple parts. To be honest, I don’t think this is the last of the nostalgia trips with James Bond, as it becomes easier to satisfy fans with cameos of the past or the DB5. I just hope they keep pulling out the good stuff, not the crap.