Movie Review: SPECTRE (2015)

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“It was me James. The author of all your pain.”

It’s hard to imagine how far the James Bond franchise has come along, bringing it with many adventures of the fictional MI6 British Secret Service agent created by author Ian Fleming and starring a handful of actors who have played the role in the big screen through the decades since the character was first introduced in film with 1962’s “Dr. No”. That, coupled with a mythology that introduced memorable secret criminal organizations, diabolical villains, and pretty Bond girls would certainly grant the man with the codename “007” iconic status in the world of popculture and beyond. You just utter the name “”Bond” and instantly brings to mind a lot of things debonaire and extraordinary that’s associated with spy fiction.

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With the universe and stories of the Bond film franchise now rebooted since 2006’s Casino Royale, much of the classic themes and tropes have been barely touched upon – focusing instead on the secret agent’s beginnings and adding a grittier, contemporary element that wasn’t touched upon in classic installments. That all changes with the latest film offering in “Spectre”, which reintroduces the villainous group of the same name and adding new twists to how it ties to 007’s personal life as well. Once again reprising his signature role is Daniel Craig, who plays James Bond for the fourth time and reunites with director Sam Mendes as they pick up where they left off in “Skyfall”. The film is actually a sequel to every Bond film Craig has starred on, and answers that lingering question that has evaded the secret agent altogether – who is the mastermind behind everything he has fought and dealt with through the years?

 

Beginning with a trip to the “Day of the Dead” festival in Mexico City, James Bond goes on a unsanctioned mission to confront an assassin that has ties to a mysterious group that manipulates everything from the shadows. After getting a lead and journeying to Rome to confront the organization, he is instead surprised to see that one in charge is a shade from his past that he long thought dead and buried. James then gets reacquainted with his old nemesis Mr. White and later his daughter Dr. Madeline Swann, the latter of which leads him to finding more clues about the clandestine group and its leader. As 007 chases after the anomaly known only as “Spectre”, MI6 faces an internal power struggle that could see democracy sacrificed and the 00 program abolished. These matters, together with recent events from Bond’s past, converge in a battle that ultimately reveals many secrets and leaves the world’s fate hanging in the balance.

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Unlike his outing in Skyfall where everything was mostly a “clean slate” and not tied to previous films, Spectre tries to bring everything full circle while reintroducing familiar elements in the Bond franchise and modernizing them at the same time. It does a decent job at that, but also gives the impression that it relies too much on the “classic formula” that wouldn’t exactly cater to most audiences who preferred the grit and seriousness Daniel Craig gave off well in past films. Mendes tries to reconcile everything and delivers what is seen as a love letter to longtime Bond fans who have become well versed with the Sean Connery and Roger Moore era of films. He is firmly established with MI6, uses gadgetry and charm effectively, and comes off with an ending that’s true to the spirit of a hero saving the day.

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As for performances, Daniel Craig naturally sticks true to form with Bond, and he certainly never misses his mark on every action bit and scene he appears in. The addition of Christopher Waltz as the big baddie who has ties to James’ life was surprising, and while he certainly looks the part of a bad guy, the payoff revelation could have been handled better and doesn’t trump Skyfall’s big villain in Mr. Silva. Lea Seydoux is just beautiful and gorgeous as new Bond Girl Madeline Swann, and she can definitely hold her own on screen alongside Craig nicely. Also spectacularly cast is Dave “Batista” Bautista, who plays the menacing henchman of Spectre named “Mr. Hinx” and gives Bond a run for his money literally in action scenes. Add the reprisals of Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q, and a special Bond Girl appearance by Monica Belluci, and you have quite the impressive cast for this movie that will keep you entertained for the two and a half hour duration it runs on.

Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swan (Lea Seydoux) in the Dining car in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SPECTRE.

While it certainly isn’t the best Bond film ever, Spectre can be considered a “back to basics” approach for those who’ve waited patiently for James Bond to come around and start using familiar tactics. It’s a hit or miss depending on whether you just started on the Craig era or have been watching since the beginning, and personally it’s been an entertaining ride that should be a great companion to past outings. While not as powerful as Adele’s “Skyfall”, Sam Smith’s contribution to the film with the theme song “Writing’s On the Wall” also comes as adequate depending on your tastes. It certainly leaves the door open for 007 to come back better than ever, and here’s hoping for more great runs in the future of our favorite British secret agent.

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SPECTRE.
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Spectre is now showing in theaters courtesy of Columbia Pictures Philippines.

 

Author: Tim Villasor

Editor-at-Large of Ungeek PH. Regularly cosplays as Batman (founding member of Justice PH) for events. Writer for GMA Sci-Tech and former contributor to Playground Magazine. Pop culture Crusader.

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