007 Cinema Dossier: ‘Spectre’ (2015)

Posted in What's Streaming? by - December 28, 2020
007 Cinema Dossier: ‘Spectre’ (2015)

‘Tempus fugit… Isn’t it funny how time flies?”

It came as no surprise that Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson would sign director Sam Mendes to a second 007 feature as soon as they could after the rousing success of Skyfall. It delighted countless fans and seeing Mendes and Daniel Craig again felt exciting. What will they do with  the twenty-fourth film in the long-running James Bond franchise?

The film looks beautiful, shot by Director of Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema. And it definitely delivers on the exotic locales that are a staple of the series. But there is something in the film that causes a bit of a remove for a lot of the viewers and stalwart fans of the character and the series itself. From the opening during the Day of the Dead in Mexico, to the final moments of the film, the film never lets you in.

And that is long before that ridiculous reveal is delivered.

The action and the excitement of the story should catch our attention, but the entire time, the film keeps the viewer at a distance. Is it Craig? He seems less than thrilled to be 007 in this outing. Although there are some sparkling moments, especially when Ben Whishaw’s Q is about. Or perhaps that is his interpretation of the cold reserve of a double-0 agent. I like Craig as Bond, a lot, but at no point do I feel like I’m on the adventure with him. For the first time in a Bond film, I was aware that I was sitting and watching a movie. It didn’t sweep me up.

It has a lot of things working for it, Thomas Newman delivers another solid, moody, James Bond score, Mendes is behind the camera.  Ralph Fiennes returns as M, Naomie Harris continues to make Moneypenny her own (delightfully so). The film brings Christoph Waltz in as the film’s villain. Dave Bautista plays Hinx, one of Spectre’s henchmen, while the film brings about the beguiling Lea Seydoux as Madeline, the daughter of Mr. White (Jesper Christensen – who viewers last saw in Quantum of Solace. Rory Kinnear returns as Tanner (though he still doesn’t come across as Bond’s friend, just M’s Chief of Staff). Andrew Scott shows up as C, who has a plan to modernize and intermingle all the defense databases across the globe. And then there’s Monica Bellucci – a stunning woman and actress. She is completely wasted in her all too brief appearance in the film, and she deserved better.

Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan, and Jez Butterworth wrote the script. Wade, Purvis and Logan concocted the story behind the script. That seemed to work pretty damned well for the previous film. I would like the writers to take the blame for the stupid familial reveal of Blofeld’s true nature. But the producers and director had to sign off on it as well.

And at what point were they convinced that it was a good idea? It elicits such an eye roll and destroys so much goodwill the series had earned under Craig’s Bond.

I love the idea that all of the missions that 007 has been on since Craig took over the role are connected. But I have a real problem with making the reason so intimately personal. That doesn’t do the characters justice at all. I’ve been into the Bond films since I was introduced to them, officially at age 12. Over the past year, I have delved deeper than I ever have before into 007. I’ve been reviewing the films in order for In The Seats. Meanwhile I’ve been tackling the secret agent’s literary adventures on my own website, The Mind Reels.

And at no time, does it seem appropriate, or even justified that the Blofeld reveal should be considered a good idea.

This one disappointed me enormously, though so many of the behind the scenes parts of the previous film, are at work in this film. Daniel Kleinman delivers the opening titles, that, like Skyfall, hint as to the nature of the narrative of the film. Dennis Gassner oversaw the production design and honours the work of Ken Adam and Peter Lamont. And it feels very much in keeping with Bond films. Costume design was done by Jany Temime, and everything and everyone looks great. Though I’m less than sure about the white dinner jacket for Craig’s 007, I get that it’s a nod to Connery’s turn in Goldfinger, but it feels out of place.

The crew shot the film in a number of locations around the globe, like the other entries in the series. This time the production travelled to Mexico, Morocco, Austria, Italy, around the UK, and of course the 007 Stage at Pinewoods. And it’s all there on the screen. Like I said, this one looks gorgeous, if not on par with Skyfall, it’s a step above a lot of the series’ earlier entries.

The film wrapped, and scoring began by Newman, and editing by Lee Smith. The film wrangled Sam Smith into the studio to record the film’s opening theme song, Writing’s On The Wall. This one troubled me when I first heard it. I love the orchestral side of it, but didn’t care for Smith’s vocals. That opinion changed a bit, and I now can enjoy this theme. But it didn’t help to keep me in my seat during my original viewing of Spectre.

Empire Design and Greg Williams came back again to shoot the promotional material for the film. They delivered quads, teaser, and release posters for the film. As like other films in this day and age, these materials are just photographs of the stars, and a hint of the film’s environs. They look great, but as mentioned previously, they all seem interchangeable.

Spectre opened on 26 October, 2015 in the UK, before jumping across the pond, and opening in North America on 6 November. The film was a success. But it ended up disappointing numerous fans of the series with its ‘twist reveal.’

That being said, the numbers were solid enough that the producers would happily bank on another 007 film. And Wilson and Broccoli got Craig to return for one final outing as James Bond, 007.

Happily we know that no matter what happens with the world, and its ongoing pandemic, that there is a Bond film on the horizon. And I can take solace that James Bond Will Return (eventually) in…

No Time To Die 

This post was written by
TD Rideout has been a movie fan since the moment he first encountered Bruce the Shark in 1975. As passionate about cinema as he is popcorn movies, his film education is a continuing journey of classics new and old. He is at his most comfortable with a book, a drink, his partner and his dog.
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