“Heather Concannon: We decided on the way home from seeing Spectre that we should do a joint review of the film. We both have seen every Bond film, several times over.
Wes Harden: Except The World Is Not Enough, I mean come on, Denise Richards has a Phd in Nuclear Physics?
HC: Yeah, I have a hard time seeing her with a Phd.
WH: HAHA! Ok let’s start at the beginning, the opening. Bond films open with an action set piece to tee up the movie, followed by the stylistic intro with the theme. Spectre, is no different, with a thrilling action set-piece, beautifully done opening, and the song ‘Writings On The Wall’ performed by Sam Smith. What did you think?
HC: Adele, he is not. Her Academy Award winning ‘Skyfall’ gave me incredibly high expectations for Spectre’s beginning ballad. I loved Adele’s song, and the opening was incredible. Seriously – how do you top Adele? Unfortunately, Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ did not follow well in Adele’s footsteps. That said, the visuals for the opening sequence were stunning and reminiscent of Skyfall’s, where key scenes were illustrated in abstract visuals. So perhaps, throw on your headphones and listen to ‘Skyfall’ while watching the opening sequence – that might do the trick.
WH: Agreed. The opening of Spectre was great, the song however, left something to be desired. But following Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ is a really tall order. The action sequence however was on point, as is to be expected in any Bond film, especially the Craig-era.
HC: True. The Craig-era has really upped the ante in terms of action, and Spectre starts out no differently.
WH: Ok, What about the plot?
HC: All in all, Spectre is a fun and thrilling ride. Bond fans will appreciate the nods to the earlier films, and a more humanistic backstory to 007. The screenplay is witty and the filming is sharp. That said, however, the film severely needed more of Christoph Waltz’s charismatic presence. But if you’re wondering, was the plot as good as Skyfall? No. But it was still a wonderful installment to the Bond franchise and entertaining for all.
WH: Well, I thought the pacing of the plot for Spectre was a little cleaner. It moved very well. At no point were you waiting to get to the next scene. For instance, in Skyfall, the scene where Bond is at his family’s mansion ‘Skyfall’, I felt like it dragged a bit, and I was just waiting for Silva to show up. With Spectre, in terms of the plot, I felt like it was clear. However, something that I did notice, like with Skyfall, we are again dealing with the government overlords trying to shut down the Double-O program. That is a plot device that has become all to common. I believe it was at least mentioned in either Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall used this as a prominent issue with Ralph Fiennes’ character, and then we get it again in Spectre. I miss the days where they didn’t have to spend so much of the plot solely justifying their existence. You mentioned Christoph Waltz, what did you think of the villains?
HC: As previously stated, Spectre needed more of Christoph Waltz. The Academy Award winner plays ‘Franz Oberhauser’ (and if you think you know the “twist” well…you’re right). Waltz commands the screen, delivering his lines flawlessly. Dave Bautista’s ‘Mr. Hinx’ served as a perfect henchman and shined in some of the best action sequences of the film. Henchmen of the past – Jaws and Oddjob – would be very proud.
WH: I am on the fence honestly about Christoph Waltz. His performance was on point, no doubt, but I question how they used him. Javier Bardem’s Silva carried a lot of Skyfall. It felt like we barely saw Waltz in this film.
HC: But, don’t you think that might have been on purpose? His limited screen time only served the character by making him more menacing. As he states in the trailer when talking to Bond, he “is the architect to all your pain.” That right there sets him up as the man behind the curtain, the puppet master if you will.
WH: Interesting, so it strengthens the character by limiting his visibility. What you don’t see is more important than what you see.
HC: Exactly! This is no truer than when we meet him, you don’t see his face, and you barely hear his voice. He whispers to people who then carry out his bidding. You know there is more in what you don’t see than what you do, accentuating his villainy.
WH: Fair enough. I think Dave Bautista’s ‘Mr. Hinx’ was used well. Sort of a modern day Oddjob. He didn’t speak, he just hurt people. He was brutal. That man is huge, and a fight with him would undoubtedly be painful.
HC: Yeah, he would break you.
WH: Thanks, hun…
HC: What? It’s true! Ok, so another 007 staple, Bond-girls. Or rather Bond-women as actress, Monica Bellucci – who stars ever so briefly in Spectre as grieving widow, Lucia – would put it. Spectre’s main female focus is Dr. Madeline Swann played by Léa Seydoux. She’s strong, smart, beautiful and knows how to handle a weapon. However, like all Bond girls, falls weak at the knees and under Bond’s spell.
WH: It’s Daniel Craig! I get weak in the knees… what? Like you don’t?
HC: Oh, honey… Swann has an interesting back story, but she does not stick out as an iconic Bond-girl. Characters like her make me miss Casino Royale’s Vesper Lynn, who had more complexity and depth. Maybe one day we will finally get the Bond girl we deserve.
WH: I am also getting a little tired of Bond constantly falling in love in between his trysts with random women. Vesper, and now Swann? Craig’s Bond seems to fall hard and fast. That said, what I do appreciate, is we have come a long way with the Bond-girl archetype. Gone are the tongue-in-cheek “Bond girls” of the past that served one purpose and one purpose only (looking at you Denise Richards). Once again, I loved Naomie Harris as Moneypenny. The banter is great, but without the cheekiness.
HC: Yes! Stronger female characters whose sole purpose isn’t to be eye-candy. I get that there is going to be an element of that, but come on.
WH: So, overall impression?
HC: I liked it. Spectre has something for everyone and it does the Bond franchise justice. I definitely think Daniel Craig will be back for more and I’m eager to see where Bond will go next. Just keep in mind, it is not Skyfall.
WH: Well, we have done a lot of comparing to Skyfall, and while that is natural, it might be a bit unfair. While a lot of the same pieces are in place, Skyfall is a very tough act to follow as it was universally loved. So, taken for what it is, Spectre is a solid entry in the Craig-era Bond films. I do hope he does at least one more. Though I think he is starting to show his age despite being in incredible shape, I love his portrayal.
HC: Yeah, he is showing his age, but remember, Casino Royale was almost 9 years ago!
WH: Wow! Does not feel that long. There has been speculation recently that Craig is done as Bond, and many outlets have their “Top-5” to replace him. We will save that for another day. You think he’s coming back?
HC: I do. There were reports where Craig was quoted as saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that it was too hard on him and he’s done. Didn’t he sustain a fairly serious knee injury filming this one?
WH: Yeah, and I had heard that he said he was done too. He was on “Live! with Kelly and Michael” the other day, and talked about the injury and how hard it is to continue on.
HC: Yeah, I believe he is contracted for one more (he is). But he joked recently about dying before doing another, and I think people took that too far. Wait, you were watching “Kelly and Michael”?
WH: Shut it! Daniel Craig was on!
HC: Should I be worried?
WH: Well, it is Daniel Craig… but I had read the other day too that he likened filming Bond to running a marathon. Craig went on “Today” and tried to set everyone straight on the rumors that he was done. He said, ”If you’re 200 yards from the end of a marathon and someone comes running up to you and says, ‘Are you going to run another marathon?’ there’s two words you use, and not on a morning show. So that’s what that was about.” But it’s like if someone asked you at the finish line if/when you are doing another, your initial reaction might be no way, never, because it’s exhausting. But as time passes and the body heals, you warm up to doing it again.
HC: So you’re watching the “Today” show too?
WH: No! I saw that one online.
HC: Uh huh… Well it is going to get interesting. There is about to be a bidding war for the rights to the Bond franchise. If it does leave Sony, a new studio may insist that Craig stick around to maintain continuity. Though I could also see them wanting to start fresh.
WH: I would like to see him back. A nice ‘Swan Song’ if you will.
HC: Yes, you’ve made it very clear you want Daniel Craig… to continue playing Bond.
WH: Well this is getting out of hand.
HC: You’re words hun. These are your choices…
WH: NO REGRETS!”