Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

Images courtesy of MGM Studios/Danjaq, LLC/Columbia Pictures

Welcome to my Secret Lair:

A Look at SPECTRE,
the Latest Bond Thriller

| published November 26, 2015 |

By Michael Bush, Thursday Review writer


Before we get started, let me fill you in on my opinions of James Bond. Anyone before Sean Connery is unknown to me; never watched any of them. Roger Moore was silly, Timothy Dalton was a joke, and Sean Connery…the man himself…(I will be executed for this opinion) was smooth as an oil slick, but his Bond movies were too campy. In fact, all Bond movies were too campy before Daniel Craig took over the franchise. Pierce Brosnan was my favorite 007 until ol’ Danny Craig came on the scene, and one of Pierce’s movies ended with a double entendre concerning an orgasm and a holiday. And while many might think me blasphemous for saying all of that, these are my opinions and this is the internet, where every man’s opinion is equal to every other. It’s the way of the world (direct all complaints or lawsuits to Thursday Review).

I fully admit to being a big fan of the modern trend towards real and gritty versions of heroes from pop fiction in the past. Michael Keaton’s Batman was awesome…as was Jack Nicholson’s protrayal of the Joker. It was a great movie. I just watched it recently. But let’s be honest, Heath Ledger as Joker and Christian Bale as Batman are just so much more in your face and dangerous. I like that. Which is why Daniel Craig is the best James Bond in my eyes.

He is sharp, he is fast, and he is strong. He makes mistakes, he isn’t perfect, and he gets his butt whipped sometimes. But—bruised and bandaged—he has that scrappy survival instinct that helps him get out of sticky situations every time. It’s a magical combination to be sure. Christoph Waltz as Blofeld in Spectre

Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld

The first three installments of Craig’s Bond series have all been a set up for this finale. The organization SPECTRE is revealed by the title of the movie, and any Bond fan worth their weight in shaken martinis knows the name. SPECTRE hearkens back to 007 films from the past where this shadowy organization is the main antagonist to the British super spy with a license to kill. If you’ve ever watched the old movies, then you’ll recall the close up shot of the main bad guy, Blofeld, stroking his white Persian cat (in the 60s and 70s Blofeld was portrayed by various character actors, including Telly Savalas and Donald Pleasence).

Well, as a Bond flick, SPECTRE is just fantastic. As an action movie it is superb. Heart stopping car chase? Check. Big explosions? Check. Gun fights? Check. Some really awesome hand-to-hand combat? Check. Sexy ladies that Bond gets freaky with? Check.

As my wife pointed out to me, it was refreshing to see Bond having a sexual encounter with a woman his own age, Monica Belucci, but unfortunately that was just a fling near the beginning of the movie. The latter half of the film has him with his typical much younger leading lady. A shame really. Does a super spy really need a woman 20 years younger? Can’t she be his age? Older? Whatever, not important because bang bang bullet bullet gun gun. Boom. Right? That being said, Lea Seydoux was perfectly cast for this role, I rooted for her. I really feel like she shined on the screen, showing a wide range of acting skills, even convincing me that she was drunk at one point. Maybe she actually did get drunk, and if so I applaud her dedication to the role.

Now, I mentioned the feeling of moving back in time with this film, as they dug up the corpse of SPECTRE. But not only did they bring back the criminal organization from the old days, they also brought back the big unstoppable silent henchman, too. Former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista was monstrous in Spectre. This is a man who has been inside the ring with the likes of Ric Flair (WOOOO!) and also…wait a minute, someone’s at the door…oh…its JOOOOOOOHN CEEEEENA!!! But I digress, he was insanely appropriate for the devilishly unstoppable Mr. Hinx, and brought back memories of Jaws and Odd Job, but without the campiness and humor. He’s not going to throw a hat at you or bite through a cable. He’s going to punch your face off, jab your eyes out, and shoot giant holes in your body before throwing your corpse from the train like Danny DeVito’s Momma.

It’s at this point I must reference the fact that Skyfall was my favorite Bond movie ever. Hands down. It was just perfect. I love Dame Judy Dench, I really do, but I was happy to see a new M for 007, and Ralph Fiennes is an incredible talent. I also really like the update they did with Q, played by Ben Whishaw. I mean, in today’s gritty world a British Intelligence quartermaster should be a young and brilliant mind, not a stodgy old chap. I dig the changes that Skyfall introduced, and these continue to be good choices in the newest installment to the franchise.

However, Skyfall as a whole felt modern and fresh, while the reemergence of past themes in SPECTRE make it a bit of a throwback, which is fine in most cases. But that’s not what I want from Bond anymore. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the movie. I’m going to watch again. But, I just want them to move forward and write new and interesting storylines, not try to rehash old ideas just to see the twinkle of remembrance in the eyes of older fans.

Case in point: Christoph Waltz was something of a dud in this film. As the last installment (supposedly) for Daniel Craig as Bond, I really wanted him to go out against a really big and extreme villain… almost a super-villain. And while Waltz’s character certainly exuded some super-villain qualities, he fell flat to me. At one point, he turns his head, in a very serious moment, and says, “CUCKOO!” in a silly voice. Now, the reason is explained later in the film, and it makes sense, but…it killed the moment for me. I was tense, and worried for Bond, and suddenly I was completely out of it and asking, “Why did he just do that?” That’s not good. I need to stay into the movie, to experience it as if I were right there.

And that is the main problem for me with this going back in time. Christoph Waltz is a wonderful actor, but in this film his villain felt comical and not dangerous at all. I wasn’t creeped out, I never feared for Bond when it came to his time with this guy. When Bond went against Mr. Hinx? That was intense. But his main adversary in his last (supposedly) time playing Bond? I felt no fear, and no danger. And remember, these are just my opinions. The internet has bestowed upon me the right to share them with you fine people. Javier Bardem’s villain in Skyfall was probably the best of all the Bond villains. He was insane, brilliant, creepier than anyone ever has been, and a former secret agent with the skills to match. I would have been happy if he was the final villain in the series, and Waltz had been the bad guy in an earlier flick. But such is life, right?
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

So truth be told, SPECTRE is a tremendous success for an action movie and for a Bond film. There is tension, action, sex, intrigue, and well-developed characters. I would watch it again, and plan to very soon. I’m being quite picky when I talk about the movie’s downfall; the lead villain. Even with my complaints, I think it’s great, and all in all Daniel Craig can walk away from being 007 with his head held high, as he has truly raised the bar for the next guy…or girl? (Come on Hollywood, a female Bond would be amazing. Jane…Jane Bond. Gimme.)

Related Thursday Review articles:

Will Daniel Craig Soon Leave the Bond Series Behind?; Thursday Review staff;Thursday Review; October 11, 2015.

Our Favorite Villainous Giant (Richard Kiel, Rest in Peace); R. Alan Clanton;Thursday Review; September 11, 2014.