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Movie Breakdown: Spectre (Noah)

November 9, 2015

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The Impression:

A new Daniel Craig, Sam Mendes-helmed James Bond flick? Yes, please.

The Reality:

After three, steadily improving films, one would imagine that Spectre, Mendes’ feather in his James Bond cap would be a rollicking, mad-dash spy caper, with all the mood and angst of Skyfall. Instead, Spectre is a messy dump on the baccarat table, a convoluted, toneless (though pretty) mess of a film that squanders the good (hell, great) that the trilogy of films before it have garnered. The film starts in Mexico, where James Bond (Daniel Craig) is searching for someone who is connected to something, but instead he ends up blowing up half a city block and entangling himself in a 22 minute helicopter chase over a crowd of Day of the Dead celebrators. Somehow Christoph Waltz’s evil bad-guy character appears, there’s a big, quiet hitman who’s looking to pull Bond’s tag, there’s lots of women, and then one particular woman, and some nice cars, and a whole lot of loose ends that never come together. Where one might think that the thematic ending of Skyfall, with Bond’s past burning behind him, his symbolic mother dying at the hands of her symbolic son, a past cleansed, a new future ahead, would engender this film to be a fresh start for the character, but somehow the army of writers they threw at it manage only to dig, superficially, into the narrative layers of the last three films. Yes, it seems you could drag out another tense, gripping film from the mysteries of Quantum and Silva and all the other nonsense (because that’s what this film makes all the hard work into) but Mendes and crew don’t, they convolute and confuse and generally strip away the wonderful world they’ve created for this James Bond. And that’s the film’s main problem, Daniel Craig’s James Bond. Where before Mr. Blonde, under Craig’s bullheaded hand, was a cold-blooded killer with a knack for running through walls, torturing people and generally eschewing the Bond we’ve seen before, in Spectre, he’s somehow evolved into a rougher version of Pierce Brosnan. There’s jokes, so many jokes, and witty banter and the same stupid sexual politics (i.e. James Bond = pseudo-rapist) as all the films that came before people started working to bring Bond into the future. Craig seems altogether pissed that he’s in this film, sometimes serious, sometimes mocking, always lazy. It’s a sad, maybe-end to what could’ve been a legendary run.

The Lesson:

This film is two and half hours long. The trio of monkeys they let edit it need to be put out to pasture.

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Movie Breakdown: Spectre

November 4, 2015

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The Impression:

Daniel Craig is James Bond, the great Christoph Waltz is the villain, and Sam Mendes, who did the thoroughly excellent Skyfall, is the director.  If you’re not excited about Spectre, then you’re silly.

The Reality:

So here’s the first thing you need to consider when it comes to Spectre – if you haven’t seen (or at least recently watched) Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, then you’re pretty screwed.  The film is completely built around the assumption that you’ve not only spent time with all three of the Daniel Craig-led entries, but that you actually remember the characters and the events that occurred in each of them.  If you don’t, then you can expect to be lost for much of Spectre, as it very much serves as a wrap-up film for the story-line that started in Casino Royale, continued in Quantum of Solace and then was seemingly abandoned in Skyfall.  Surprise!

As for the rest of the pieces that make up Spectre, the majority of them aren’t worth anything more than an unenthusiastic shoulder shrug.  Sure, Craig is once again excellent as Bond, Christoph Waltz makes for a fun villain, and there’s plenty of eye-candy to take in (beautiful women, elaborate action scenes), but the evil plot to ruin the world is boring and uninspired, key minor characters (Q, Moneypenny, M) have roles that feel tacked on, and it’s way too long at two and half hours.  Also, the goal to wrap up what began so long ago in Casino Royale feels unnecessary, and all it really does in the end is make Spectre a convoluted mess.  I somewhat think that might it play better for me on a second viewing, but I’m just not in any sort of hurry to sit through it again.  Maybe I’ll small screen it later and see if I like it more.

So, see it if you’re a big Bond fan, but make sure you know your stuff and be sure to watch it with your expectations firmly in check.

The Lesson:

A standalone Bond film is the best kind of Bond film.

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