CAPSULE: In the most complex story of any Bond film, Bond has to fight three battles at once. He has to track down the leader of the nefarious organization SPECTRE. Meanwhile there is a struggle for power in Military Intelligence as MI-5 tries to replace the 00 program. And at the same time he has to unravel the secrets of his own early life. The script is dark and occasionally confusing and muddled, but it is the most ambitious plotting of any Bond film. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
The Judy Dench M died at Skyfall, but she was not quite done giving orders. She had Bond (Daniel Craig) go to Mexico to foil a terrorist plot to murder an entire stadium full of people. Bond's actions limited the destruction to one building, but the media blamed him for the damage. This happened at a very bad time. M (Ralph Fiennes) is trying to hold onto the 00 section and save it from being disbanded by C (Andrew Scott, the Moriarty of "Sherlock") There are plans to reorganize the intelligence organization, merging MI-5 and MI-6, pooling intelligence resources with eight other countries, and changing the emphasis to drone surveillance from actually placing agents like Bond. In the process the double-O section is to be shut down. Bond heads off for Italy to find the meaning of a (kitsch and all too ostentatious) secret ring that is a clue to finding a giant, super- secret, world-encompassing crime organization. That is what Quantum was supposed to be a few movies back, but this is an even bigger criminal organization, called by the familiar name SPECTRE. SPECTRE has been a long-time foe of Bond. Bond finds what all Bond fans already know, that SPECTRE is steered by the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). Meanwhile we learn more of Bond's origins and so does Bond.
SPECTRE is the longest Bond film of the Eon series, weighing in at 148 minutes. The director is Sam Mendes, who previously directed Daniel Craig in THE ROAD TO PERDITION and SKYFALL. The fact that he also directed SKYFALL is ironic since that film was impressive for its brash art design, particularly in its elevator sequences. Here he goes to the other extreme using nature tones as a visual theme. Bright colors are rarely seen. The screenplay was written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth. Having four writers could easily be the cause of the muddiness of the plotting toward the end. The film goes out of its way to show pictures of characters from previous Daniel Craig Bond films and gimmicks from many of the previous films (e.g., cars driving down stairs). Parts of the script seem to be atoning for the misogyny of previous Bond films. There are two Bond women. One seems to be about Bond's age: Lucia played by Monica Bellucci, was born in 1968; Daniel Craig dates to 1964. Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) is younger but is the aggressor in their lovemaking.
One timely and interesting touch in the script is that the writers try to get the sympathies of the viewer in the MI-5/MI-6 conflict. Having real government assassins in the field as killers is a good thing. The alternative seems to be surveillance with drones that would compromise everybody's privacy to collect intelligence on everybody. On the other hand, agents in the field like our Mr. Bond limits what he can spy on and gets the government only the more useful and appropriate. James Bond is good for your financial security. And if the government wants to collect statistics on me, they will find I rate SPECTRE a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379713/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/spectre_2015/
In my tradition for each new Bond film I give my ordering of films in the series from the best to the worst. This ranking may not be consistent with my previous listings since my opinion of films varies with time. In the interim I have heard several commentaries on Bond films from Tysto at tysto.com. He finds really basic faults in plots that I miss entirely.
1. CASINO ROYALE (2006) 2. SPECTRE 3. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE 4. SKYFALL 5. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE 6. QUANTUM OF SOLACE 7. DR NO 8. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS 9. LICENSE TO KILL 10. GOLDFINGER 11. THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH 12. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY 13. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE 14. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME 15. OCTOPUSSY 16. THUNDERBALL 17. TOMORROW NEVER DIES 18. GOLDENEYE 19. DIE ANOTHER DAY 20. DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER 21. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN 22. A VIEW TO A KILL 23. MOONRAKER 24. LIVE AND LET DIE
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2015 Mark R. Leeper