I’m not really a true James Bond fan. I’m more a “new” James Bond fan. Ever since Sam Mendes rebooted the franchise in 2006 with “Casino Royale“, I have immensely enjoyed Bond films. Daniel Craig in a suit, truly awesome cars, pretty dresses, explosive action and a tragi-comedic villain – what’s not to love?
If you love all of the above, you will very much enjoy “Spectre”, the latest installment of the Bond franchise. In this film, everything you have learned from the previous installments, come together. James Bond (Daniel Craig) comes across a mysterious conspiracy, which has to do with some of his previous villains. Apparently, they were part of a terrorist organization, called “SPECTRE”, and Bond has to stop them. In doing so, he meets some new faces, such as Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and faces from the past (Christoph Waltz). But Bond does not have to stand up against SPECTRE all alone; he has his trusty team of M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Wishaw) and Mrs. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) behind him. But will it be enough to eliminate this criminal organization for good?
“Spectre” already aims high with its opening shot, which is one, long, sequenced shot – without any cuts. The films opens looking down on the partying streets of Mexico City, from where the camera zooms in on the crowd and finally picks out one impeccably dressed individual: James Bond (Daniel Craig). The camera follows him through the streets, into a hotel, up the elevator, entering his date’s hotel room, onto Bond climbing out the window and casually strolling across roof tops, where finally, he kneels and aims his gun. All of this in just one shot – it’s incredibly impressive.
From that moment, the audience is thrown into the conspiracy plot, and into the action. Helicopters, fighting in helicopters, throwing people out of helicopters, buildings crumbling down, car chases, women in lingerie, men in fancy tailored business suits: it’s all stylishly visualized, designed to keep the audience at the edge of their seats. And it’s definitely working. All throughout the film, from action-packed sequences to car chases through Rome and from sexy rendez-vous to business meetings, “Spectre” manages to keep your full and utter attention. It’s almost impossible to look away from the cleanly styled and visually packed images on the screen – and you kind of don’t want to.
Traditionally for Bond films, there is the opening sequence, with the main theme of the film. For “Spectre”, Sam Smith sang the dramatic and beautifully intimate “Writing’s On The Wall“. The song alone is already stunning, but with the breathtakingly beautiful and sexy animation, it becomes even more powerful. We start with silhouettes of beautiful naked women who disappear into the mist (hint: Bond girls usually don’t survive), move on to the slimy and shiny octopus symbol for SPECTRE and finally focusing on two figures: Bond and his new, silver Bond girl.
Perhaps my favorite part of “Spectre”: Bond-girl Madeleine Swann, stunningly portrayed by French actress Léa Seydoux. Characteristically, there are at least two love interests for Bond. In “Spectre”, we have Italian widow Lucia, who is portrayed by Monica Bellucci, who looks surprisingly good for her fifty years. But to be honest, her character is not really that interesting. So quite some time later, the second, most important, Bond girl is introduced: doctor Madeleine Swann, the daughter of one of Bond’s villains, mind you. In exchange for information, Bond swears to protect Madeleine and so the two embark on an adventure that takes them from Tangiers to the desert of South Africa.
Out of all the Bond girls, Seydoux’s Madeleine is definitely my favorite. She brings intelligence to the role, which she portrays poised and charmingly. Naturally, Madeleine is incredibly beautiful, but her main characteristic is her intelligence and her familiarity with violence and Bond’s dangerous world. Another fact I seriously applaud is the fact that Seydoux is not your typical Bond girl physique. Previous Bond girls were skinny and tall, like lingerie models who conveniently came across Bond, but Seydoux (and Eva Green’s Vesper in “Casino Royale“) shows a different and more realistic body image. She is curvy and very feminine, with soft features. Hopefully, Seydoux will set a new standard for more intelligent and more realistic Bond girls.
A Bond film is still a Bond film, which unfortunately means that “Spectre”‘s story is rather a cliché. We start with an introduction, where Bond learns some crucial information that sets a whole plan in motion, he meets some girls, he is almost killed at least twice, there is a mole in the plot, everything seems to go very, very wrong, but in the end, Bond kills the villain, gets the girl and rides off into the sunset.
The only thing that would have made “Spectre” even better, would have been a more original story. But nonetheless, “Spectre” succeeds in its main goal: entertain the audience from the first to the last second.