Movie Review - Spectre

Spectre (2015)

Rated PG-13: (For Violence, Some Sensitive Themes and Mild Language)

Running Time: 148 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Drama, Spy, Thriller

Released on November 6, 2015 (US Release Date, Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Columbia Pictures and Metro Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan and Jez Butterworth

Director: Sam Mendes

  • Daniel Craig as James Bond/Agent 007 
  • Léa Seydoux as Madeline Swann 
  • Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld
  • Ben Whinshaw as Q 
  • Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory/M
  • Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
  • Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh/C
  • Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
  • Jesper Christensen as Mr. White
Bond is back, and this time, he faces a threat stronger than the entire MI6. Salutations everyone, and today in Dateline Movies, we'll be reviewing the fourth James Bond film with Daniel Craig as the star, Spectre. To be honest, I forgot about Spectre after posting all about Star Wars and some other topics. Thank goodness for my mom and my sister's birthday, as we would have missed a descent enough movie.  Now let's move on into spy territory and review Spectre!

What is the movie about?

After the death of the previous M and the eventual take over of Gareth Mallory, played by Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Agent 007 or Bond, James Bond, played by Craig (Skyfall), tracks down an assassin in Mexico, who was mentioned in a message left behind by the former M. This message was shown by Bond to Eve Moneypenny, played by Harris (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom). The destruction left behind by Bond and the assailant's clash caused internal turmoil within MI6, and later on facing immediate disbandment from Max Denbigh, played by Scott (Sherlock).

After the death of his target and stealing the new car made by Q, played by Whishaw (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), Bond now travels around the globe in search of the assassin's employers. He soon discovers their identities when a blast from his past returns in the form of Franz Oberhauser, now known as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Waltz (Django Unchained). Seeking payback against Bond, Blofeld and his shadowy organization SPECTRE is out to create a new world order with the use of corrupted cyber-security.

To save the world yet again, Bond must set-out Dr. Madeline Swann, played by Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Color), the daughter of a former enemy named Mr. White, played by Christensen (Manslaughter), all the while being pursued by the malevolent Mr. Hinx, played by Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy).

What we think of the film?

Acting = (3/5)

After watching Daniel Craig play James Bond for three movies in a row, you might have been convinced by now that Craig is completely capable of following-up on the Bond legacy. He is ever compelling as usual as he delivers the suave and charm to the flick. However, there are some signs of lacking in energy in the movie. Not that it means he failed to live-up to all other great Bond movies, as he clearly gave a performance worthy of the real-life James Bond, if he even exists. What I meant to say was that his work here is all too familiar, and not much new can be seen.

The greatest and the most beloved appearance by fans everywhere, especially us, is that of the talented Christoph Waltz, who you might remember for playing scene-stealing characters in two of Quentin Tarantino's masterpieces. Thanks to Waltz, Blofeld is no longer the stereotypical "mastermind running a secret group because he is evil" kind of guy, he is now a more human and a more realistic threat to the Bond mythos.

Other returning cast members delivered the unexpected laughs or twists that are enough to liven-up the movie. Q delivers the geeky side of the movie, Moneypenny remains Bond's faithful friend, and Mallory is not just the boss at the office now, as he kicks some terrorist's butt here. Scott gives us an interesting interpretation as a surprise villain and even though he is lost for words, Bautista makes a really good henchman.

Seydoux, however, doesn't seem to fit well as a Bond Girl. Sure, she is beautiful, and she was great as a French assassin in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, but here she seems less than enthusiastic at every scene she is in, immediately dulls the atmosphere. The main problem I have with her performance is that she contains one facial expression. As in she usually frowns, but not always, and it gets pretty annoying when you think about it.

Production Value and Cinematography = (5/5)

The highlight of the movie is clearly the eye-catching cinematography and the production value. Watching Bond movies offers not only action, but also the opportunity to see beautiful countries as well.  Filming Spectre takes place in several locations all over the world. Each location looking as clear and visually stunning as a clear blue river. Dutch-Swedish cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema does a fine job of capturing every memorable angle scenes making every piece of action so realistic.

From the explosions and the punches taken to the face, all were amazing and are the ones that brought Spectre alive and well. The action-packed moments, including the intro, the face-off in the old MI6 headquarters, that nifty escape with the use of a literal ticking bomb, and that one giant explosion in Blofeld's base of operations, which actually won a record for biggest explosion, is simply mind-blowing!

Of course, the part that really takes the cake of all cinematographic milestones is none other than the latest colorful and majestic Bond entrance theme, featuring the powerful and soulful vocal of acclaimed artist Sam Smith. Entitled "Writing's On The Wall", it initially received a mixed reception from fans upon the release of the music video. This is because many felt that, although the song was great, it is not fitting for a Bond film. Well they are wrong. This segment proves that Bond songs are far from obsolete.

Story, Dialogues and Flow = (2/5)

As much I enjoy the smooth ways Bond catches bad guys, you have to admit that at some points in the entire Bond film and book series, it could get too odd for your own good, or simply a rip-off of another film that's not even part of the entire franchise. Spectre, sadly, is not a part of the cheesy yet appealing ones, it is the point wherein they are starting to run out of ideas.

The story is okay in paper actually, as this ties the entire Bond universe in one swoop. If you are not a fan of James Bond and just started to catch-up, then there might be some confusions regarding some story angles in the film. Revealing that all the bad guys James had fought are actually part of a secret conglomerate? Yeah, I am just surprised.

The execution, however, is far from okay. The opening act was spectacular, as this raised the tension the film is trying to show, but it immediately disappears afterwards. Why they have to lengthen every single scene is beyond me. But one thing is for certain, it was unnecessary. Come on Bond, you should be kicking henchmen in the behind, not go on dates. There's also the humor, although it is surprisingly funny in some parts. Personally, I felt that it was a little bit out of place in most scenes. Here, the stakes have never been lower, thanks to the length. Let's not forget the expositions that we don't care about.

Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (1/5)

There has not been a tint of originality in this story, and that absolutely disappoints me. Bond movies are usually the out-of-the-box kind of mystery films. There should be weird master plans and most of the time beyond our imagination scenarios. Well I do commend the attempt at realism, this down-to- earth approach just made Bond a little too grounded. 

You know the writers have ran out of ideas when you realize they just ripped-off Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Wait, wasn't it obvious? Oh well, I guess I have to elaborate the similarities.

Okay, we have (1) a clandestine organization facing political threats, especially for the boss. The theme "out with the old, in with the new" is very much present. (2) It has been revealed that a sinister terrorist cell, who has an acronym for a name and an octopus-like emblem, has infiltrated the said agency. They are also revealed to be the one pulling the strings throughout all the movies. Interestingly, the secret surfaced through the enemy group's symbol being displayed on a computer screen. (3) A blast from the past comes out to hunt down our hero. Each are seen as the protagonist's brother figure. (4) This terrorist group has a plan that involves mass-surveillance and complete control of the world's technology, and is initially disguised as a world-saving operation. In the final battle, both will take some convenient time to charge and enough minutes for the good guys to win. (5) Although more of a coincidence, both movies feature a male and a female working side-by-side. (6) Again a coincidence, the villains, who are revealed to be moles and a colleague of the boss in each flick, died lying on the floor surrounded by glass. (7) The opening act involves an incident in a certain area which leads the hero to an argument with his superior.

The ending is, although fulfilling in the sense of wrapping-up the entire film, is not much special. Although I kind of love the idea of Christoph Waltz making a possible return due to his character simply being incarcerated, it's just a sigh of relief as the conclusion was particularly ruined by the unnecessarily long running time and dull and non-innovative story.

Overall Evaluation = (3/5)

We hope you are not a Bond fan or an action lover, because even with the dazzling cinematography and sharp performances, there is a surprising lack of adrenaline rush in this movie.

Saving Grace! (Spotted!); Callbacks To Previous Films = (Varies)


Okay this one is a new category. We'll be adding half a point for every single moment or recurring motif in the movie that has been a source of some laughs, some throwbacks and etc. This will only be used if the film reaches a rating of 14 points and below. So let's try saving the film?
  • Max Denbigh mentions that he doesn't like people who has a "License to Kill" scattered all over the world. This is a nod to the Bond film starring Timothy Dalton.
  • Franz Oberhauser's scar and detail is reminiscent of Donald Pleasence's version from "For Your Eyes Only". His cat, who is of the same species and appearance in both movies, is another reference.
  • Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen, Casino Royale), Dominic Green (Mathieu Amalric, Quantum of Solace), Raul Silva (Javier Bardem, Skyfall), Vesper Lynd (Eva Green, Casino Royale) and the original M (Judi Dench) have all appeared indirectly through photographs and mentions. Nice references to wrap up a lot of things.
  • The line "No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." was mentioned in both Goldfinger and Spectre. However, Auric Goldfinger uttered the quote instead of Blofeld in the original. How Blofeld tortured Bond is also similar in looks to the one seen in Goldfinger.
  • Bond's disguise in the intro, as well as the same costume seen in the poster, is an honor to the late Geoffrey Holder, who played Baron Samedi (not the same character from Heroes) in the film "Live and Let Die". Holder died on October 5, last year, so this may be a tribute to his character.
  • In the scene wherein Bond discovers Mr. White dying of thallium radiation, White shares information regarding SPECTRE and in return, he must protect his daughter. There is a chess board on the table, and like a scene from "From Russia with Love", Bond encounters a SPECTRE agent while and is challenged in a game of Chess.
    TOTAL = 14 (+3) / 25 (Okay?)

    Despite scene-stealing performances from Daniel Craig and Christpoh Waltz and a truly top-notch cinematography, Spectre sacrifices pure originality and high-octaned excitement for snail-paced jibber-jabber mixed with overly familiar ideas.

    Even though we might have been bored out of our minds by the stretched out duration, there are some redeeming qualities, and of course we know Blofeld is in MI6 custody, so we might see him popping-up somewhere along the way. In the meantime, sorry for the incredibly late post, and for a really lengthy one. With that, cheers to you readers!


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