By Preman Koshar || Arts & Entertainment Editor
I recently saw Spectre, the latest James Bond film, at the theaters. I am, perhaps, a poor choice of a reviewer for this movie, as I have only ever seen one other James Bond flick: Goldfinger. And that was several years ago. But, nonetheless, I decided that Spectre looked intriguing, and went to the theaters last weekend. Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes, follows 007 (Daniel Craig) on an international adventure to discover who is behind the insidious organization that has been manipulating the world, as well as Bond’s personal life, for decades. Much drama ensues, of course: bullets fly, ladies swoon, and James Bond exercises his license to kill liberally all within the first five minutes. I was even beginning to consider a career in the special forces before I remembered that this was a work of borderline ridiculous fiction.
The cinematography was definitively above average in this film. The opening is one of the best I’ve seen in a while; it looked as if the whole first scene had been filmed in only one or two lengthy, fluid shots. The opening scene also takes place during a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico, so the abundance of people, sounds, and smoke made it truly exhilarating. The explosions and helicopter hijinks helped a bit, too.
The acting was decent, Daniel Craig continuing to portray a capable and stoic Bond with a good sense of humor. Léa Seydoux played the main female lead, Madeleine Swann, the “Bond girl,” very well, but I didn’t appreciate her abrupt change in tone from independent woman to seduced maiden halfway through. She was a stronger character than that, and while I understand that this is a Bond film, she could have been so much more… perhaps they will expand her character in future films.
The score was great— it was filled with the classic Bond theme and enhanced by newer songs and effects, such as the opening sequence song written specifically for this film by Sam Smith. The dialogue was okay. There were quite a few stereotypical action-y lines that could have been improved, but also a notable amount of well-written humor injected into the right places at the right times. The plot was what was most disappointing, however, and it is really a shame it didn’t live up to the other aspects of the film.
James Bond is supposedly unmasking the leader of Spectre, the most dangerous and powerful organization in the world, and yet he infiltrates their meeting with surprising ease. The arch nemesis, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), is not nearly as brilliant or calculating or terrifying as he should be— this is the man who is “the author of all of [James Bond’s] pain” after all. He’s just not that menacing or brilliant. And, without giving away too much, the whole issue of Spectre is never really resolved. Sure, some people die and some people are apprehended, but James Bond doesn’t even consider going after the organization as a whole. Perhaps this is because it would be ridiculous for one man— no matter how many zeros are in his name—to be able to take down an organization that has infiltrated every aspect of society.
In the end, James Bond accomplishes very little and instead seems to pursue personal vendettas more than world saving. In this regard he ultimately seems a bit shallow and narrow-minded, which would have been okay if the film had made it clear that this was going to be resolved in later movies, but instead it suggests that a resolution might be within sight, which seemed foolhardy to me at best.
Sophomore Preman Koshar is the Arts & Entertainment Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.