SPECTRE: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“SPECTRE”

written by Dominick Cappello

The gun-barrel is back at the beginning of the film. Nice. That’s the way it should be. #24 in the books for James Bond 007. That’s if you don’t count “Never Say Never Again” (1983), which was ironically enough the last time we saw Ernst Stavro Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion).

This latest entry in the franchise is filled with references to earlier ones, but they were far more subtle than they were in “Die Another Day” (2002). The film opens in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead celebration. You couldn’t help but think of Baron Samedi from “Live and Let Die” (1973).  It’s good to know you’re actually watching James Bond and not a Jason Bourne knockoff. The title song, “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith is serviceable. Nowhere as memorable Adele’s “Skyfall”, but not one of the atrocious 007 songs. Like the one by Madonna. Good lord, it was awful. Okay, I promise that’s the last time I’ll remind you of “Die Another Day”.

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James Bond is conducting an investigation without the authorization of MI6. To be honest, I’m a little tired of James Bond going rogue. I think he’s done it in all four of the Daniel Craig films. It’s become a bit of a cliché. Monica Bellucci was considered for the role of Paris Carver in “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997). Nearly twenty years later, she finally gets to be a Bond Girl and she’s still breathtakingly gorgeous.

Daniel Craig seems to be fed up with playing the suave secret agent, but is it really so horrible? Dude, you were paid to kiss Monica Bellucci. Things could be worse. James Bond seducing the widow of a man he killed just hours after the funeral. Wow. 007 is a cold hearted bastard sometimes, but that’s what makes him unique. I’m sure he has a sensitive side. He just suppresses it as much as possible. It makes his job easier.

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Throughout the course of the film, we learn that all of the antagonists from the Daniel Craig era are connected. They were members of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.. Back when I saw “Casino Royale” (2006), I had hoped that the secret organization referred to several times by Mr. White was in fact S.P.E.C.T.R.E., then I was sorely disappointed by “Quantum of Solace” (2008). I didn’t like the film too much in general, but QUANTUM, as a villainous group, was a poor man’s substitute for S.P.E.C.T.R.E.. Dominic Greene was the lamest, most feeble Bond Villain of them all. He actually stabbed himself in the foot with an axe. Schmuck. So, I’m totally fine with QUANTUM being a subsidiary of S.P.E.C.T.R.E..

However, I believe that an affiliation with S.P.E.C.T.R.E. takes away from Javier Bardem’s character, Raoul Silva. “Skyfall” (2012) could have remained a stand alone film. I don’t want to picture Silva sitting around a conference table, taking orders from Blofeld like just another henchman. His grudge with MI6, specifically with Judi Dench’s M, wasn’t politically motivated. He felt betrayed. It was an obsession. Now, I must assume that Blofeld took advantage of Silva and was manipulating him all along. This takes Silva and knocks him down a peg or two in my estimation. Back in the Sean Connery era, Auric Goldfinger didn’t need to be a member of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.. He was his own boss. In my own humble opinion, not every enemy of James Bond needs to be an agent or a minion of Blofeld’s.

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We also learn that Bond and Blofeld were raised as surrogate brothers. WHAT!? I had assumed from the trailers that a personal connection was going to be established between the two characters and I thought that I would absolutely hate it. But, I guess that it worked for the story and it wasn’t the cheesy soap opera twist I feared it was going to be. Though, wasn’t it once revealed that Austin Powers and Dr. Evil were brothers? I just think that needs to pointed out.

Just like Christopher Lee, Christopher Walken, Sean Bean, and Javier Bardem, it seems that Christoph Waltz was destined to portray a Bond Villain. It’s nice to see that Blofeld is still rocking the Nehru jacket. We even saw the return of his fluffy white kitty cat. He had two in “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971). An explosion caused by 007 results in the scar which was sported by Donald Pleasance in “You Only Live Twice” (1967). Blofeld ends up incarcerated by end of the film. James Bond electing not use his license to kill. Well, that’s much better than what happened to Blofeld in the teaser for “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).

At one point in the film, 007 visits a clinic located on a snow covered mountain top, harkening back to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969). Bond battles Mr. Hinx aboard a train. This was also reminiscent of action sequences from the earlier films. “From Russia With Love” (1963), “Live and Let Die” (1973), and “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) all had Bond involved in train car scuffles. “Octopussy” (1983) even had a fight on top of a train. James Bond derailed a train with a tank in “GoldenEye” (1995). The aforementioned Mr. Hinx was played by Dave Bautista, a.k.a. Batista, a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Mr. Hinx wasn’t too chatty. He had a Wile E. Coyote / Roadrunner relationship with 007. A modern day version of Jaws played by Richard Kiel. There were plenty of chases in this film. Chase sequences were a hallmark of the Roger Moore era. Mr. Hinx had only one line in the entire film. “Shit”.

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What’s next for James Bond? Have we seen the last of Daniel Craig? It appears that we have. He seems to have no interest in a fifth outing, which would be #25 in the official series. Maybe he’ll change his mind. After all, money talks. Story wise, I just can’t imagine that Blofeld will be behind bars for too long. He has to escape.

I’m seriously worried for Léa Seydoux. She survived this film, but I have a strong feeling that she’ll meet with a bad end in the next outing. There’s no way this fairytale ending will last. She’ll join Diana Rigg and Eva Green as the ladies who died in the arms of James Bond. I mean, a lot of women have died in his arms, but those are the ones he loved dearly, who irreparably scarred him on an emotional level. Every time James Bond resigns from MI6 and plans to settle down with a woman by his side, it turns tragic. So, my prediction is that whether or not Daniel Craig returns, Léa Seydoux’s character will be dead by the time the elaborate title sequence begins. Whatever the filmmakers decide to do, I just hope that new actor being cast as 007 doesn’t mean another reboot. Enough with rebooting franchises. Just continue with the damn story as is.

– Dr. Rochester

Author: Dominick

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