There’s something missing in Spectre

In true James Bond fashion, Spectre, the newest Bond movie starring Daniel Craig, opens with a nail-biting, visually arresting scene. Set in Mexico City on the Dio de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Bond is seen tracking his prey while weaving through streets filled with people dressed as skeletons. A spectacular explosion ends the first scene but not before Bond overhears the name of the man he must spend the rest of the film trying to defeat: the Pale King.

Move to MI6 headquarters and we see Bond being lambasted (as usual) by M (Ralph Fiennes). But it soon becomes apparent that Bond isn’t the only one in trouble: the spy organisation itself is seemingly under threat by a modern merger, headed by a man called Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott) – or C – as Bond calls him. Working against his own organisation, but with the reluctant help of Q (Ben Whishaw), Bond draws closer to his enemy, traces a woman he must protect, and, in sinister fashion begins to find connections with his past.

SPECTRE

Photo: supplied by Ster Kinekor

Like Skyfall, Spectre draws from Bond’s past more than I remember previous Bond movies doing. It is these past connections that make the plot ominous and Bond’s final confrontation with his foe personally meaningful. The adversary turns out to be Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) – a sort of reincarnation of earlier Bond villains. These historic links in turn tie in with the opening “Day of the Dead” scene, in which the dead come to life.

The tension remains high throughout the film and Bond’s connection with the female lead, Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), is subtly touching. Daniel Craig makes a credible, tough, yet human Bond. But I felt there was something lacking in Spectre. Too predictable? Too little new action and too much reliance on the past?

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Tell me what you think…

Spectre opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 27 November.

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2 thoughts on “There’s something missing in Spectre

  1. Personally I feel a paradox. Craig is the best Bond yet, certainly my favourite. One you can imagine a ruthless assassin. However, his last 3 films , all except Casino Royale, have left me wanting.

    There seems to be three components to this:
    1) The antagonists are simply too weak. They’re not scary enough, and the challenges not insurmountable enough. Perhaps because there’s too much personal involvement. In QoS the plot device was a disgruntled ex-employee wanting to kill “M” – sigh. In Spectre there’s the “I could’ve been privileged you, if only I’d been picked from the orphanage.” Again, sigh – that plot device washed far more powerfully in Willy Russel’s award winning West End Show “Blood Brothers”

    2) The love interest. Touching? Perhaps. But my suspension of disbelief was stretched too far with the “met once, eternally in love, betrayed within 24 hours, no wait, it was a setup” that happens all within 24 hours of movie time. It appears the challenge is that Bond, a damaged character whom CAN’T make emotional connections, hence the archetypal misogynist, is now being made to make these connections. The PC world of today no longer values misogyny (& rightly so) but where does that leave a character like Bond? Well make him a hero motivated by love and loss, and remember makes can’t be superior so his “damsel in distress” has to be as capable and as involved in the rescue as him. To the point where credulity is stretched too far. We can’t empathise with a Bond who cannot Love, whilst simultaneously support his actions motivated by Love. This was just believable in QoS with the flawed “M” relationship, but taken too far in Spectre.

    3) The back story is too confusing. It’s like Casino Royale was only half a reboot. So we have elements from pre-Craig Bond movies interweaved with the pre-Bond backstory. I don’t know which story element to believe anymore. After all the belief were asked to assume is that Bond is Bond. One man, formerly a Naval Commander (submariner?) and prior to that an orphan (std plot device of your Monmouth) but we have scenes that allude to Brosnan’s Bond, and even earlier ones like Connery’s (Aston Martin DB5 anyone) These are all meant to have happened before the reboot, before the entrance of Craig as the new (yet original) Bond in Casino Royale.

    There are others of course, like the only motivation I can see for Bond’s following a target into a helicopter above a throng of innocent people was for the effects. The fight scene. So right from the outset his credibility is in question. But that device I expect from a Bond movie. Often it’s exactly those scenes that attract me to go and see the movie.

    Sadly I think they haven’t changed Bond enough for the new world of equality, religious ideology aggressors (ie the progression from the Cold War), and a tech savvy audience.

    Still a fun romp and an important warning about the surveillance desires of even our democratic governments, but it gets a 3/5 from me.

    • Thanks for your lengthy comment Roger. Your observation that Bond has had to change for today’s PC world is an interesting one. I agree that the changeover is not complete, and has left a Bond without bite. Your other comment about too much personal involvement is also interesting; Bond’s personal story is an aspect I’m not interested in and it does seem to indicate a weakness in the plot.

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