Film Review: Spectre

Jump on the Bond-wagon for mindless entertainment

Review by Daniel Dercksen (November 23, 2015)


Watching Spectre, the 24th Bond film, I could not help thinking about a quote from William Friedkin’s Boys In The Band, where a gay man admires a striking young stud and says: “How can his beauty ever compare with my soul?’’

That pretty much sums up Spectre: It is gorgeous to look at contextually, but is has no emotional core.

Although the villain (Christoph Waltz) in Spectre makes a profound statement like “A man lives inside his head. And that’s where the seed of his soul is,’’ it is merely words without meaning.

And even when Bond invites Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) over to hand him a parcel containing the remains of Skyfall, and he reflects on M’s demise, a potentially meaningful scene dissolves into shoddy sexual conquest.

In Spectre, a cryptic message from the past sends James Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, and as Bond ventures towards the heart of Spectre, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, and is encounters the daughter of an assassin who understands Bond in a way most others cannot.

With eye-candy, multi-million dollar spectacles like Spectre, commercial cinetainment is in fast gear with bigger-than-ever-seen-before explosions and kinetic wizardry.

Still, with four screenwriters, a bullet-proof formula, and solid history, there are no surprises in Spectre as it delivers everything and more, relentlessly and vigorously with clichés abound and a feeble attempt to provide wit and humour.

At a cost of $250 million there should be no disappointments, but there are; it is custom-made entertainment to satisfy the masses, nothing more.

It is understandable why a significant director like Sam Mendes announced that this would be his last Bond.

But, that is the nature of a Bond beast, artificial intelligence with super powers to dazzle and wow with utter awesomeness, leaving one breathless, but brainless.

Yes, it’s not ‘’that kind of artsy film where you have to think’’ some people will argue, but can Spectre in any way compare with the richly textured emotional and physical action in Skyfall?

Spectre’s intelligence lies in the plotting and execution of the action sequences, and how people kill each other without remorse; Spectre glorifies violence and candy wraps it.

Ultimately it’s a film where people hurt each other, the harder and more brutal, the more amusing entertainment it provides; there is satisfaction in its pain, a sad adulation that enshrines death.

There is no dignity in death and destruction. Even a funeral scene for Bond is simply an introduction to seduce.

And after a deadly fight sequence on a train, the ferocity simply becomes foreplay for a sex scene.

It undermines audiences’ intelligence by skilfully spinning its magic, and simply giving ardent fans what they want, perhaps not what they need.

With films like Man of Steel and Batman, cardboard stereotypes have become flesh and blood heroes we care about, evolving to reflect pertinent issues relating to the chaos of the human condition, providing soulful entertainment.

Even films like the latest Mission Impossible or Man from U.N.C.L.E allowed for some great emotional connection and development of its characters.

When the Bond franchise was resurrected with Daniel Craig starring in Casino Royale, we experienced a Bond film unlike ever before, it turned the stereotypical 007 into a man who went on an emotional journey, showing the humanness of the character.  Now, with Spectre, he slides back into the Bond stereotype: he is back in business, dressed and licensed to kill, rearing into action looking a million dollars.

“I’m a killer,’’ he confesses candidly in Spectre and when that poignant moment arrives when he is questioned about his fate, he simple replies: ‘’I haven’t had time to think about it?’’

It’s difficult to care about a character if there is nothing to care about, and even when the ‘’great reveal’’ happens, it means very little.

There is no logic in Spectre as we move effortlessly from one location, with the characters posing beautifully on each breath-taking location.

Strangely, the most exciting and emotional part of Spectre is it’s Danny Kleinman’s stunning title sequence, featuring Sam Smith performing Writing’s On The Wall,

Is Spectre the greatest Bond ever?

Definitely not, but it’s worth a shot.  Jump on the Bond-wagon and catch a thrill ride, just don’t ask for anything more.