SPECTRE opens with the classic James Bond "gunbarrel" sequence, then proceeds with a spectacular opening sequence as Bond follows a SPECTRE agent through a Mexico City Day of the Dead parade, then into a hotel, up an elevator, out the window, and across rooftops...and it's all one continuous shot. In a series of films that must top themselves with stunts and spectacle, nothing like this has ever been attempted. A jaw-dropping cinematic feat.
Thanks to some reverse engineering, the mysterious and sinister organization QUANTUM (see all the bad guys in the first three Craig adventures) is revealed to actually be SPECTRE, the classic cadre of bad guys from the Ian Fleming novels (and introduced in the early Connery Bond films), led by the iconic, mysterious Ernst Stravro Blofeld. Made silly by Mike Myers parody as Dr Evil, Blofeld wears the grey tunic, strokes his kitten, and seeks to extort, corrupt, and control the whole world.
Christoph Waltz's bad guy is certainly mad and evil, but he's not that mysterious; his introduction in a shadowy and gothic SPECTRE conference tingles with mystery and suspense, but in the third act he's completely revealed, and even a little silly as he tortures Bond. It's annoying that the writers masked Waltz' identity as Blofeld until the third act. The plot makes excuses why Waltz' character is known as "Oberhauser" through most of the movie until the "Blofeld" reveal near the end, but this is pure "fan service" - the writers are trying to surprise the audience with a twist, but there's no reason why Blofeld could not be called Blofeld throughout the film. By calling him by an fake name, and constructing an excuse for why he changes his name, the screenplay simply makes the story less clear when it's already mysterious. This petty trick was also pointless because Waltz appears in the trailers as Bond's antagonist, wearing the same tunic as the classic Blofeld, in a movie named SPECTRE? Even a casual Bond fan could put together that Waltz is Blofeld, so what's the point of the misdirection? Star Trek Into Darkness  pulled this same annoying trick, calling Khan "John Harrison" for no good reason until late in the movie.
Léa Seydoux is beautiful and competent, but she falls in love with Bond for no reason and so quickly it's just bad writing. She actually successfully defends herself from the bad guys twice, so on the spectrum of capable Bond girls, she's up near the top with Michelle Leoh and Honor Blackman. Her silky grey dress on the train in Morocco is spectacular. (She's only 17 years younger than Bond)
I was sad to see the new Moneypenny squandered. In Skyfall she shoots Bond off the top of that train in the opening sequence, and later assists Bond in the field (remember the shaving scene?) but all she does in SPECTRE is deliver a package and Google some bad guys for him. I was hoping she'd participate in his adventures again - what was the point in developing her character in Skyfall if she isn't used well in SPECTRE?
Bond ReferencesSPECTRE has a bunch of overt reference to the history of Bond movies...
- Hat on a Bed - it's bad luck to put your hat on a bed, and a Bond girl is spooked by a hat on his hotel bed in Live and Let Die. During the opening shot, Bond tosses his hat on the hotel bed- this cannot be a coincidence. Bond also tosses his hat onto his hotel bed in From Russia With Love.
- Snowy Mountaintop Spa - Just like in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Bond is also admitted to a spa in Thunderball. But when chasing the bad guys down the mountain, he steals a plane - did they feel that skiing sequences were too played out for a Bond film? Bond has such a rich history with winter chase scenes, it seemed odd to eschew skiing or sledding...although it was neat to watch Bond try and steer an airplane sliding on its belly down a snowy hill. The ridiculous mountaintop airport (it is impossible to build a runway atop a mountain) reminded me of the opening sequence in Goldeneye.
- Daughter Of A Villain - Bond romances, and allies himself with the daughter of one of the villains. Bond has made an uneasy alliance like this before, most notably in Thunderball (although technically Largo is not Domino's father).
- Gadgets - The Craig-era Bond films have been light on the gadgetry, and SPECTRE is no different. A classic Bond trope is the gadget Q gives him at the beginning of the movie that is precisely what he needs by the end of the movie- the screenwriters underplay the moment when Q gives it to him; in the old days, Q used to explain in complete detail how each gadget works, but in this film Q only says "it tells time...and the alarm is quite loud, if you catch my meaning."
- Goldfinger - When Oberhauser says to Bond "I thought you came here to die" I was reminded of Auric Goldfinger's famous line, "No Mister Bond, I expect you to die."
- Silly Foreigners Are Poor Drivers - I could hardly believe this sequence was even shot: Bond is racing across Rome in his Aston Martin when a Fiat 500 driven by an elderly Italian blocks his progress. Bond tailgates and honks while the Italian slowly creeps along, fussing and gesturing, until eventually Bond rams the Fiat out of the way. The Fiat taps its bumper on a railing and the airbags activate. The airbag joke has been hackneyed for ten years? Twenty? The whole scene felt like it was lifted whole from a Roger Moore Bond film.
Rory Kinnear, whose dad was also in some iconic British movies - Roy Kinnear played a bumbling scientist in The Beatles' HELP! and Veruca Salt's dad in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Kinnear Sr. died in a tragic horse riding accident while filming a Three Musketeers movie when Rory was just a kid.
(AMC Burlington with Adam)
BOND & BOURNE MOVIES on Stub Hubby
- Dr. No
- The Roger Moore Era: I think I saw A View To A Kill (1985) in the theater.
- Goldeneye (1995) is the only Brosnan Bond film I saw in the theater.
- The Bourne Identity (2002)
- Moonraker & From Russia With Love double feature
- Casino Royale (2006)
- The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
- Quantum of Solace (2008)
- Skyfall (2012)
- The Bourne Legacy (2013)
- Just How Old Is James Bond, Anyway?