Rapid Review: Spectre (2015)

spectre poster

“You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond.”
– Mr White

SYNOPSIS: A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE. – via IMDB

SPECTRE DAY OF THE DEAD

GRADE 7After all this time I finally got to see Spectre over the weekend. I know, I am like the last person in the world to have watched this and to churn out a review for it, but so what? I have been looking forward to this movie for far too long. Right off the bat, I think people are being way too harsh on this movie. Granted, it is not like the other Craig Bond films we have come to expect, it wasn’t as serious or as gritty as the others, which is something that I missed, but it did not mean that there was nothing to love. Spectre was shot well, and looks great, and is carried by some solid performances. Craig is, of course, a phenomenal Bond and my favourite (though that is well known by now, I am sure), and Ben Whishaw makes for a wonderful Q, I still think that he represents a modernised Q perfectly. After I realised that this Bond might have more campier moments to it, I could even embrace the silly comments, and Q being a lot, uhm, more ridiculous than previously. He used to take things seriously, and next thing I know he is complaining about his cats and sniggering at his terribly awkward Aston jokes. Ralph Fiennes’s M started quite rocky here, as I definitely expected more backbone from his character. I have been itching to see Christoph Waltz take on Bond, and I was not disappointed. He was fantastic every moment he was on screen, which is nothing less than I expected. The man is such a phenomenal actor and excels at any role he decides to take on. I am totally looking forward to seeing more of his character in the upcoming Bond films, no ways did they bring him in just for this one. The scene with Madeleine and Bond in the traincar felt like a throwback to Casino Royale, but just didn’t sit right. In actual fact, there were tons of throwbacks to the older Bond films, and some worked better than others. I do enjoy how the last few Bond films (the Craig era) have all linked up nicely. Spectre also featured so much… well, Bond banging the world again, which was really disappointing, as the Craig Bonds have not really featured that aspect much, which was something I always appreciated. Monica Bellucci was case in point… she served no real purpose but to look beautiful. Léa Seydoux’s Dr Madeleine Swann was a really good Bond girl, she is a strong woman who can hold her own, so definitely a solid addition. Also, while Bautista may have been a villain of few words, I really liked him, and a throwback to the quieter henchman that just did their thing. I could not buy into South Africa being the holdouts on the whole Nine Eyes intelligence thing because, well, have you been reading anything smart about South Africa in the papers? Didn’t think so. Our government and intelligence agencies are a joke. Not even being nasty, but really, there is nothing there anymore, it’s embarrassing. I also really disliked that Sam Smith song Writing’s on the Wall (I have no idea who he is, I don’t listen to the radio, but he is not someone I will be listening to anytime soon – totally not my cup of tea), and I was no fan of the opening credits. I cringed. What a pity, too, because the whole octopus thing would have been fine, but instead was bordering on some extreme Hentai crap, and Daniel Craig could not have looked more awkward. Well, I am glad we got that out of the way. I was a huge fan of the opening sequence with the Day of the Dead parade, it was just gorgeous, but I do wish there had been some more to it. The action was top notch here, as always, and I liked little things in the movie that highlighted, once again, how emotionally damaged Craig’s Bond is (his flat that is bare, his drinking, how he can still not bare to deal with anything that touches on Vesper). Yes, Spectre has some drawbacks and shortcomings, and no, it was not quite the film I was expecting, but it is well worth a watch and it is fun, and it does go back to older Bond roots. It is totally not the disaster it has been painted.

Review: Skyfall (2012)

skyfall poster white

“I know I can’t do this job forever, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to leave the department in worse shape than I found it.”
– M

MI6 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on a mission to hunt down a mercenary named Patrice (Ola Rapace) and recover what he has stolen – a computer hard drive that contains details concerning undercover agents placed in terrorist organisations by NATO states. However, he is unsuccesfful when M (Judi Dench) orders Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) to take a shot at the target, even though Bond is wrapped tightly to him. Eve takes her shot, and Bond goes down, falling from the moving train into the rapids below. Patrice escapes with the drive, and M gets a lot of flak from Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the Chairman for the Intelligence and Security Committee. They want her resignation, and are forcing it upon her, though all M wants to do is fix the wreck that has been caused in the wake of Bond’s death and Patrice’s escape.

Daniel Craig
“Just look at you, barely held together by your pills and your drink.” – Raoul Silva

On the way back to MI6 headquarters, M’s laptop is hacked and the signal is traced back to her office. In a rush to get back and apprehend someone, M is stopped in time to see MI6 headquarters explode. Bond catches a news broadcast on television where he has been recuperating and returns to London immediately, and M is furious that he did not make contact when he recovered. He is still angry with her for insisting Eve take a dodgy shot and wounding him. The blame can go on endlessly. Bond is an absolute wreck, both his body and mind are deteriorated and he is drinking excessively. M agrees to put him back on active duty provided that he passes all the MI6 physical and psychological evaluations again.

Bond does dismally at his examinations, though M lies and declares him fit for duty. Some shrapnel from Bond’s wound assists in identifying Patrice, and Bond is sent off to Shanghai to recover the hard drive with the undercover agents’ names on it and execute Patrice as well as identify his employer. In Shanghai, Patrice executes a man and scuffles with Bond, leading to his death. Bond knows nothing of Patrice’s employer, but has another clue to follow up on. Bond heads to Macau, where he meets with Séverine (Bérénice Marloh), who was present at the assassination that Patrice was sent to carry out. Bond tries to work it out of her who Patrice’s employer is, and eventually he succeeds. Bond is taken to Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), originally birthed Tiago Rodriguez. He was once M’s cream of the crop, but nowadays dedicates his time to cyberterrorism and is very good at it. Bond, however, outsmarts Silva’s capture with the radio transmitter that the new Q (Ben Whishaw) provided him with, and Silva returns to Britain a prisoner.

Javier Bardem
“They kept me for five months in a room with no air. They tortured me, and I protected your secrets. I protected you.” – Raoul Silva

Trouble starts soon after captivity. Silva’s laptop infiltrated MI6 systems when Q plugged it into the network, and Silva escapes. With an incredibly clever disguise, he makes his way to M, who is in the midst of a public enquiry, intent on killing her for his perceived betrayal of her. Bond saves M, inadvertently kidnapping her, making sure that Q lays a path that only Silva can follow. The mission is definitely off the books, and M places her life and trust into Bond’s hands. Bond takes M to his childhood home, Skyfall, where they enlist the help of the gamekeeper, Kincade (Albert Finney).

skyfall bond and m
“Orphans always make the best recruits.” – M

Will Bond be able to protect M? Will Q successfully map a way to Bond that Silva will be able to follow and suspect nothing? Will Bond be able to deal with his past demons and return to his roots to protect a woman he holds as dear to him as that of a mother?

An 8/10 for Skyfall. This was another solid entry to the Bond collection, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. While this movie was distinctly different from every other Bond movie, it just worked. I thought Daniel Craig did a bloody excellent job of coming back as Bond, washed out, bitter, angry and drinking far more than he needs to. Javier Bardem provided a truly genius Bond villain, and was simply amazing to watch. He had it all, excellent. Ralph Fiennes was a very welcome edition, I truly do enjoy him, and he was worthy of the way things went down. The latest Q is also something fascinating – Ben Whishaw takes it up a notch and modernizes the Quartermaster’s position entirely. A lot of this film focuses on M, and Judi Dench again delivers a fantastic performance, and the relationship between her and Bond has changed very little – still very much like mother and son. A lot of the story focuses on her, and it is a welcome addition. Skyfall gives us another look at Bond prior to rising up to his 00 status, and is executed well. The action at Skyfall itself is phenomenal, and it didn’t let up, the story never ceased, and the characters were ever present, no matter the circumstances. The humour that was featured was not over the top, but very witty and sharp as it came along. The intro for Skyfall is definitely my favourite of them all, and was just absolutely stunning to watch. This was a good way to celebrate fifty years of Bond, I must admit. However, I am pretty depressed that my Bond run has finally concluded. I was seriously getting used to the idea that I would have a Bond every week for the rest of my life. Oh well, now we wait for the next installment.