Oh James Bond, you and your movies have been so great to me over the years. Let us sit and sip great Ale and think of the ways the lovable rascal of the title 007 has impressed us and me and thee over 24 movies. The list appeareth here now; 1. Underground Lairs. 2. Gruesome and inventive ways to kill henchmen/messengers/anyone that upsets the bad guy. 3. Piranhas in a pool. 4. Jet packs. 5. Mind blowing one-liners. 6. One punch knockouts. 7. SPECTRE. 8. Number 1 stroking his cat behind the barrier and coolly frying number 4. 9. Hijacked nuclear bombs(always a great plot device.) 10. How Q really hates that James wrecks all the gadgets he gives him. 11. All the gadgets he gives James, especially the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 with headlight machine guns, smoke, oil slick, and the handy, dandy, what no spy can live without ejection seat. 12. Golf with Goldfinger. 13 Being bad-ass and fighting Dr. No to the death over a tank of watery radioactive stuff. 14. Underwater scuba wars. 15. Running across the heads of crocodiles. 16 using a crocodile submarine. 17. Fighting Jaws. 18. Fighting Oddjob inside Fort Knox. 19. Dressing up as a clown and diffusing a nuclear bomb. 20. Being so smooth and classy and awesome. 21. Always knowing that he’s going to defeat the big bad guy. 22. Always defeating the big bad guy and blowing up his underwater/inside a volcano/on an island bad guy lair.
These reasons herein the preceding list be yet a small smidgen of ways which the rouge bandit of England James Bond entertains us and expresses his righteousness.
My favorite Bond movies all stick to the clean and simple maxim of storytelling that can be summed up like this. Bond gets mission from M, Bond goes to location for mission, Bond fights people and meets ladies on his way to accomplishing the mission, The End. This highlights one thing Alfred Hitchcock always did and always preached about movie making, that you should give the audience most of the information regarding the story up front so they 1. know what is going on and why. And 2. can use all their wondering for wondering how the good guy will win out in the end(that is if it’s that kind of movie.) The Bond franchise does this well by M. briefing Bond on who he will be trying to apprehend/follow/investigate, where he will be going to do so, ans who will help him once he gets there. Plot points plainly laid out. Mysteries erased. I mean James Bond isn’t in the Mystery genre anyway right?
This past weekend I saw the new James Bond film called SPECTRE(which stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). And I must say that I didn’t read too many reviews and online opinions this time so I was going in pretty fresh. That said, I will now resort to the tried and trued method of writing criticism and list the movies strengths first.
First, it had a great hand to hand fight between Bond and David Bautista on the train. Oh yeah, Spoilers!!! Daniel Craig as always was phenomenal, athletic, and smart. The super sneaky and dangerous vibe around the SPECTRE funeral and meeting were spot on and sweet, especially how David Bautista killed that guy basically for his job interview. This adds to the mythos of the Bond novels and the organization of SPECTRE as being based on Ian Fleming’s dealings with the Illuminati during World War 2 when he served in the Royal Navy and which gave him all his ideas for the James Bond novels, which I find much more plausible a scenario than he was just having second thoughts about getting married and wanted to scratch his international spy, playboy, hero itch somehow.
But I digress, on with the high points of the film. The opening sequence was fast paced, action packed, really cool(I know my descriptions can be so specific sometimes ;)), and it wasn’t fifteen minutes long like the one in Casino Royale. And while we are on the subject of Casino Royale for a second I must say that Shaun Connery would never go on a Parkour chase through a construction site and chase someone up a crane, just saying.
And now on to the part where this gets hard for there are flaws which I would like to point out, but in a nice way of course, and no feelings are going to get trampled on. That’s basically because I know neither Daniel Craig nor Sam Mendes will ever read this article.
First flaw. 1. They pulled a Star Trek: Into Darkness. Yes, that’s right they did it, even after all the feedback on how lame it is. For those of you who don’t know, pulling a Star Trek: Into Darkness will now forever be known as giving a film’s bad guy a generic name only to flip on the audience once deep into the film and have said character reveal that he is actually the most dastardly villain of the franchise but was just using another name. This presents the problem of being meaningless to anyone who hasn’t seen the movies with said bad guy in them for such a reveal to have any affect. Oh, and every press release, magazine interview, and actor and director interview must contain the smoke screen of “Oh, no he’s not Kahn, he’s just a guy named John Harrison.” And I kid you not that I read a magazine article in EMPIRE none the less where Mr. Mendes states, “Oh, don’t say the B word. Of course, he’s not Bloefeld. He’s Franz Oberhauser and that’s all guys. Nothing to see here. And NO WAY will we disappoint fans by pulling a Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Well folks he did and yes Christoph Waltz’s character is revealed to be Ernst Stavro Bloefeld about two thirds of the way through. He being the leader of SPECTRE with their octopus symbol rings. Another fun fact, the NSA recently launched a satellite where the side of it has a painting of an octopus above the Earth and spelling out “Nothing is beyond our reach.” Bet you didn’t know that eh?
Okay, on with the review! With that said the only other big criticism I have is that the plot was just too confusing and I really never knew what was happening and why. For instance Bond drives to Austria but we don’t know why. We only know he’s looking for someone and then when he meets her he says he’s looking for something else and we have no idea where or what it is only that some dying character spoke the important word twenty minutes before. At one point he walks into a cabin in a snowy forest. We don’t know why. We don’t know what he’s looking for. I didn’t know where the movie was going. It’s hard to enjoy a movie if all my feeling of mystery is being tied up in the thought of “What in the heck is going on here and why is he doing this?”
And unfortunately the latter thought was repeated much more throughout the movie. It must be how Sam Mendes likes to construct a story. I remember I loved Jarhead and that had no plot, no mission, just characters existing in a landscape and reacting to what’s happening to them. And that film was brilliant. I feel the simpler and more straightforward plot development fits movies like Bond better. But that’s just my opinion.
With that said, Mr. Mendes did a great job with what he was trying to accomplish and the script he had. This movie already has many fans and has made lots of money. It is a unique addition to the James Bond cannon which has gone all the way from Goldfinger to Octopussy to Golden Eye and now to SPECTRE. Despite my criticism I do look forward to seeing the last installment of James Bond from Mr. Craig and whoever they get to fill the directorial role left by the departure of Mr. Mendes. Thank you for reading. That is all.