James Bond is not supposed to be a warm and fuzzy character. If you read Ian Fleming’s novels, Bond is cold and ruthless. He’s the good guy because the bad guys are Soviet Communists, or mad scientists with scary weapons, and generally further down the spectrum of evil.
What I really like about Daniel Craig as James Bond is that he can dial up the charm and suaveness when he has to, but he can also switch it off to reveal the cold rationality of the literary Bond. I don’t suppose I’ve ever really thought of Bond as an assassin, however, so when characters in Spectre labeled him as such, it just didn’t sit well with me. It’s definitely covered within his license to kill, but it seems so….mercenary and overly simplistic of a label. And it kind of makes him sound like a villain.
On the whole, Spectre was ok, but not nearly as good as Skyfall. It all depends on what you’re looking for in the film. If you want visually spectacular action sequences in picturesque Europe and fantastic explosions, it delivers. Fight scenes in a helicopter? Check. Car chase with Bond in his trademark Aston Martin? Yep. An attractive woman in a curve-hugging evening gown? Absolutely. Great theme song? Not this time…which is where they might have lost me….
I’ll admit I was tired when watching Spectre, and probably not attending to the plotline as closely as I should. That said, I found a few elements unduly distracting. First – the plot seemed a bit choppy, and Bond didn’t really have a mission. He had a personal vendetta against the leader of an evil organization and defeating this enemy would be for the greater good, but it still lacked impact. Second – I have trouble taking Dave Bautista seriously as a Bond villain. He’s been good in a couple of action films, but I’ll always think of him as one of HHH’s Evolution henchman stalking around the squared circle and throwing down a powerbomb or two.
Third, I think I was legitimately creeped out by the level of surveillance technology in the film. I know I’m not paranoid to think we’re constantly being tracked, recorded, watched or listened to by all our personal technology devices, plus CC TV and whatever else is out there (probably camera drones). The information intelligence system advocated by C and his merry band of big data analysts – too realistic. I know firsthand how much data marketers can collect on denizens of the interwebz opting in, logging in, and trading their privacy for free use of apps and screen savers. Also, I was quite distracted that C was played by Moriarty from Sherlock (Andrew Scott). Probably that’s not fair, but since Moriarty is an evil genius I completely distrusted him from the moment he entered the scene. I also distrusted him because he was trying to replace the 00 program, but that really was a secondary consideration.
Finally, I was a little disappointed by the gadgets in the film. Q’s mods to the Aston Martin were good for a bit of humor, but not super flashy. On the flip side, I found the scanning port Q used to analyze the Spectre ring and connect it with past villains far-fetched (To be fair, I also consider the new scanning pads at the library that check out a whole pile of books at once without having to individually read ALL the barcodes far-fetched). Also, Bond’s nemesis had a pretty lame torture device. Not that I’d want that thing drilling into my noggin, but the clinical specificity of the device is nowhere near as exciting as a nuclear warhead threatening humanity if Bond doesn’t defuse it in 30 seconds.
- Just want the basic Bond trifecta of fast cars, beautiful women and dirty martinis
- Prefer a rogue mission and personal vendetta to following the rules
- Have always enjoyed a peek into the bad guys’ lair and the shenanigans that ensue as the villains jockey for position and power
Put it in the queue!
However, if you:
- Want a more charming and cuddly James Bond
- Are already paranoid Big Brother and his evil international friends are watching you
- Have read/watched so many other mystery/thriller/crime series you tend to get distracted by parallel elements, such as:
- Moriarty = C
- Rogue mission–>Mission Impossible, Harry Bosch, Harry Hole
- Fusiform gyru–> Beate Lønn
Don’t put it in the queue.
Reviewer’s note: Yes, I am a little obsessed with the novels of Jo Nesbø right now. I have to at least finish The Snowman before the film comes out in 2017-ish.