Friday, November 6, 2015

Spectre Review: Dynamic Chapter in 007 Franchise

The name James Bond is one that is cemented in pop culture. The Ian Fleming character has played a crucial role in film for decades, and even with his lengthy movie history: it seems that 007 will only continue to grace the silver screen. The latest incarnation has not only enlist actor Daniel Craig to take up the role, but the newest Bond films have rebooted the famous spy series. Since Casino Royale hit theaters in 2006, the tales of James Bond have been told in a new, and refreshing, light. Now the 24th installment has hit theaters and it brings a familiar element to the series. Once directed by Sam Mendes, this film is known as Spectre. As Bond fans will note Spectre brings the villainous organization into the new world of James Bond; undoubtedly raising the stakes in this new chapter of 007. However does Spectre live up to the 007 name or has the new Bond films' licence to kill expired?

Following the events of Skyfall, Spectre throws James Bond (Daniel Craig) in a new and thrilling adventure. By request of the former M (Judi Dench), Bond goes off the radar to track down a mysterious organization known as Spectre. Once infiltrating the group, Bond discovers that Spectre is run by a ghost from his past: Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). In order to stop Oberhauser, Bond must protect the daughter of Mr. White (Jesper Christense): Madeline Snow (Lea Seydoux). As the two go off to thwart Spectre, the world of espionage hangs in the balance as MI-6 finds itself in trouble when government agent C (Andrew Scott) seeks to disband the 00 program.

The story to Spectre certainly fits into the world of James Bond as the main plot centers on the aspects of adventure and mystery. The story to the film relied heavily on the secrets behind Spectre and its leader; and fortunately the pay off to this plot element was satisfying. However what I found most compelling about this film's plot was the sense of Bond's story coming full circle. Time and again the movie would callback to the previous films; whether it was shots of former characters or details that found themselves connected to Spectre's story. Needless to say I like this idea of wrapping things up as it is an element that is all but unknown to the James Bond series. While the main plot was good, the subplot of MI-6 being dissolved could have been stronger. This is not say that the subplot was bad nor that it was ineffective; but it could have had a better execution. The pacing to the story felt about right. Though it had a long run time, the story engaged me all the way through as it quick pacing felt right for a James Bond film.

At this point saying that Daniel Craig has been an impressive 007 really goes without saying. What I found so intriguing about this Bond has been his constant progression as a character; and James' development in Spectre was no exception to this. In the case of this film, Bond seeks to bring a mission to close while dealing with a ghost from his past. Needless to say this was a great direction for the character, and Craig once again delivered as the secret agent. However a Bond film is only as good as it leading lady. Thankfully Lea Seydoux delivered as Madeline as she was a strong and engaging“Bond Girl”. Then there was the film's villain. Though Christoph Waltz did not have a lot of screen time, his presence and performance made Franz Oberhauser a villain worthy to the James Bond's rogues gallery. Dave Bautista as Mr.Hinx had little to say but the former wrestler had quite the thrilling performance as he embody the series' “Henchmen” character. As for the agents of MI-6, the character helped flesh out the supporting cast. Whether it was Moneypenny (Naomi Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw) or M (Ralph Fiennes), each of these characters only added to this factor; which gave the 007 series another fantastic cast.

If there is one element that defines the Bond Series, it is movies' sense of action. For Spectre the movie was definitely action packed, but it had a sense of variety when it came to the factor's direction. In a heartbeat, the action could go from intense to subtle. The best example of this would be a car chase between Bond and Mr.Hinx. While it was exciting like any good car chase sequence, the subtle tendency behind this moment made the scene stand out. Thomas Newman provided a great score for the film. Like his previous composition to the 007 Series, Newman's music incorporated the tunes to James Bond; all while blending the film's soothing title song: “Writing on the Wall”. Speaking of which, the film's title sequence was something else. With the enticing song from Sam Smith, this opening scene created the right tone for the film by featuring images that either mysterious or just plain thrilling. In the end of what the made the technical elements work was Sam Mendes' direction as it gave something new to the James Bond series while staying to true the franchise's iconic concepts.

While it may not has as strong as its predecessor, Spectre is quite the dynamic film. The movie had an engaging story, a great cast and action fitting to the 007 name. Yet of all the things that made up this movie, the most impressive about Spectre was the movie's sense to bring things to a close. Never before have I seen such a move from a James Bond film; and while there will be another movie, I still tip my hat to the filmmakers for daring to try such a direction. In the end Spectre not only does the name James Bond justice, but I feel that it is a must see for any fan to this action series.

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