Renewed appreciation for Spectre

#1

It’s strange how something can change one’s perception. Hubby and I recently watched the Graham Norton Show (clearly well behind its current season) and saw the episode featuring Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris and Christoph Waltz, and featuring Sam Smith singing the Spectre theme song. For the first time, we really appreciated Smith’s rendering of a powerful (and vocally challenging) theme song. And, on subsequent viewing of the film, for the first time, I found myself really appreciating Léa Seydoux’s performance. For so long I have held Eva Green’s performance as Vesper close to heart that I really don’t open up to other Bond women. But Seydoux delivers a subtle, nuanced performance as Madeleine Swann. It looks like we will see her once again in Bond 25, so I’m looking forward to it!

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#2

I absolutely, almost concur.

Minor gripe: The Rome car chase
For me they tried to cram too much into it (phone call and slow driver gags). Perhaps they wanted to keep some tension aside for the snowy mountain chase. Personally i think it was a case of showing off and jumping the shark a little.

Major gripe: The botched final act (or is it an extended epilogue?)
The utter mess of that last 30 minutes makes of the tone, the characters and logic has to relegate SP way down my list, sadly.

Oh well, i’ll always have Rome… The funeral, the SPECTRE meeting and the killing of Lucia’s assassins are three of my favourite sequences in the whole franchise.

Those three scenes particularly exemplify the highs that team Mendes, Newman and Craig could reach. Only with collaborations of such rich talent does Bond transcend its genre and its own format. It’s still 100% Bond, but in those moments it’s Oscar worthy Bond. Of course many don’t feel it needs to be and that’s fine. but personally i relish such moments.

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#4

The thing that bugged me about Bond’s phone call to Moneypenny is when she identifies the Pale King as Mr. White, and Bond replies along the lines of, “Oh, right, Mr. White.” Mr. White is a character of great import to Bond, because of what he did to Vesper. So Bond’s reaction, almost one of annoyance, to that news rang false to me.

My favorite scene is the “Day of the Dead” opening sequence in Mexico City. I know it wasn’t done in one take, but it was stitched together to look like it was, and the effect is quite remarkable. The visuals, utilizing a massive group of beautifully costumed and choreographed extras, and the mesmerizing music still draw me right into this film.

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#5

Did he do anything? Vesper killed herself because of a lie she was sold. Bond got THAT guy. As far as Bond knows Mr. White was just the mysterious group/Quantum/Spectre (take your pick) member that Vesper was able to give a separate phone number for, other than Getler whose number was attached to the text that Vesper “must’ve known (he’d) check”

Tbh the only thing i’d change in Spectre is how it links to Skyfall. Made it more clear that Skyfall’s ending started off the chain of events, put the files on a flash drive inside the British bulldog, had Silva have nothing to do with the group Spectre and just run with the idea that an action nothing to do with Bond or Blofeld sent them back on a collision course after both had actually given up on each other after QOS.

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#6

I recall an interview with Mendes where even he was hesitant to refer to the car sequence in Rome as a “car chase.” The last couple of minutes definitely is, and that three minute bit is definitely a cut above the rest of it. The shot of the two vehicles drifting toward the Vatican is breathtaking and that helicopter shot of the two cars racing on the riverbank is very cool, but really the entire scene is basically a dressed up exposition dump. And that’s fine, but I think we were all expecting something a bit…faster. In all actuality I think that scene in particular is a perfect microcosm of Spectre as a whole. It looks great, but it lacks any urgency or threat. The best part of the film as far as I’m concerned is the sequence in Tangier. Everything from their arrival at L’Americain to their arrival at Blofelds base is really good. The dialogue at times is a bit choppy but it still feels like what I want a modern Bond film to feel like for that entire duration. I think Cary is going to straighten the ship.

#7

Did he do anything?

The presence of Vesper’s interrogation tape in that hidden room at L’Americain confirms to me that Mr. White was the one who interrogated Vesper, and was probably also the one who arranged to have her boyfriend “kidnapped” so that she could be blackmailed into doing what the organization wanted. Yes, he was acting on behalf of the organization, but still he was the one who did it. I can’t imagine Bond would have felt so casually about him.

#8

But Bond doesn’t know how involved White was with Vesper when he Moneypenny tells him the pale king is a known alias of Mr White.

Also he didn’t kidnap her boyfriend, the group had a specific agent whose job was to seduce government agents, a kidnapping would then be staged so they had those government agents in their pocket. Bond tracks the honeypot (seems the most accurate description of him) down when he’s pulling the same run on a Canadian intelligence agent (Detectice Beckitt!!) right down to the Algerian love knot (they missed a trick not calling QOS The Property of A Lady)

#9

We’ll agree to disagree. I think Mr. White was the driving force behind the whole plot involving Vesper and her boyfriend, and Bond suspected that because Vesper left him Mr. White’s phone number, enabling Bond to track him down. Why else would Vesper have had his number, if he weren’t the one most directly involved? Bond’s suspicions were confirmed when he found the tape.

No, Mr. White didn’t commit most of the various acts, but I think he was the one who gave orders to Le Chiffre, Gettler and Vesper’s boyfriend, Yusef (who of course actually double-crossed Vesper). I also recall that Le Chiffre was pleading with Mr. White, telling him he’d get him the money, right before Mr. White killed him. So I think Mr. White was the one pulling most of the strings, and that makes him responsible for what happened to Vesper.

#11

Let’s not forget the end of QoS was supposed to be Bond going back to kill Mr. White…

I still keep hoping the footage of that original ending will pop up someday.

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#12

By the way: I see that I have posted this thread in the wrong place. Could a moderator move it to the General forum? Thanks!

#13

Me too.

#14

The thing that makes me wince in that scene is the thought that what if people were in that barn he rams through and destroys. Splat!

It’s a psychopathic act and what’s worse is that it’s dressed up as heroics. I’m not very keen on it.

Add to that making Bond an idiot all of a sudden; he’ll happily destroy a family barn without a care for who maybe inside, but he doesn’t make sure Hinx is dead!?!

That’s some lazy-ar*e writing! Have him intend to put a bullet/crush his whatever/slice his carotid and get distracted, interrupted or something. As it stands Bond is a psycho chump; likes to destroy, but not too smart.

Craig’s nonchalant, casual-as-you-like trot across the rooftop as he assembles his rifle is absolute class. An improvement upon Craig adjusting his cufflinks in the PTS of SF. I like the cuff-link moment, but it’s obviously on-the-nose. His general performance in the SP PTS is far better.

#15

Your right, but… I do kind of like the way Hinc’s twitching fingers give me vibes of Jaws and his multiple return from certain death situations.

#16

I’m fine with Hinx not being dead and returning. But not so much with 007 assuming a car crash has flatlined this hulking beast whom Bond has witnessed gauge someone before snapping their neck like a twig.

It would’ve been easy enough to contrive something to prevent Bond finishing him, even if it was simply Swann fleeing the scene.

#17

But that is the charm of the film–Bond as total assassin whose only impetus is follow his programming—he kills Sciarra because he is instructed to by a dead person on a videotape: just following orders.

Bond achieves the heroic only at the end when he breaks free of the tentacles/machinations of both MI6 and Spectre, asserts autonomy, and goes against his wiring. The movie chronicles the stages Bond traverses from “psycho chump” to human being.

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#18

I agree with your reading of it. However, I personally don’t think that was Eon’s reading of it. I doubt it occurred to anyone that there may be innocents in the barn. At least not until it was too late to amend it in any way.

I think and hope that any statements they make about Bond’s callus profession are unpacked just a little in order to make that point.
When Bond lacks a moral compass, the writer needs to find a way to show us that us this is the case. We then have a context and this subtext can narrate his journey to autonomy, bringing with it a moral responsibility.

I’m all for telling the story of a 00’s pathology, but I think your doing too much of the heavy lifting for them. As it stands its just violence without consequence.

#19

So you are afraid that in the absolute silence of this valley the farmers where sitting in this barn and didn´t hear the infernal noise of a plane and the heavy car because they were listening to music with earplugs on their I-phone?

#20

Exactly!

#21

I agree. But then all I ask of Eon (or any producer) is an art work; I am happy to try to see my way to a coherent reading of it.

I think Craig’s performance handles this duty nicely. Then there is the lovely line: “You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond,” which is followed by Bond finding Madeleine; exposing her to Spectre henchmen; and his absurd/violent plane pursuit. There is also the narrative structure. Someone posted in another thread the sharp insight that in SPECTRE Bond follows a series of clues supplied to him–not much is required of his little grey cells. He is a robot following a program–his compasses (moral and otherwise) derive from external sources.

Agreed–violence committed without any thought of consequence, which is exactly how Robot Bond would behave. Admittedly, Robot Bond has to be a one-off. Rogue Bond can stretch his legs every so often, and Moore made a career out of Commander Bond. But an audience can identify with the Rogue and Commander iterations without too much difficulty. But Robot Bond is a tougher sell which might be why heavy lifting is involved: the iteration is there and it is not. Too much emphasis on Bond-as-automaton-assassin and much of the audience will disconnect since the last thing they want to do is identify with a character lacking the power of choice (it may cut too close to home for many viewers, and as SAF reminds me, they have gone to the movies to be entertained, not reminded of the lack of autonomy in their lives).

Lastly, I would cite the mise-en-scene itself and its monumentality as indicative of Bond’s reduced state. There is also a specific scene that for me gestures in this direction, but as its inclusion was by pure chance and planned by no one (heeding SAF’s and Orion’s admonishments, I do not wish to claim too much for accidents of production), I will merely say it is there, beckons, and leave it at that.

#22

The hate for it on certain other forums is ridiculous pack-mentality. When I started out as a Bond fan, Moore was a joke and Brosnan the saviour. Now Moore’s a legend and Brosnan’s a joke. Bond fans can be dumb but that’s no crime and it can provoke fun debate.

Spectre isn’t “good” but I wouldn’t want an actor’s fourth movie to be “good” in the traditonal sense. Spectre needed to be a bloated, overstuffed Saturday afternoon headache of a movie, and it is. It’s Thunderball/Moonraker “good”, not Goldfinger/Spy good. And Thunderball is my favourite movie.

Mendes is like Lewis Gilbert in that he elevates the material to strange new places. Like Bond changing between two perfectly tailored suits in the space of 3 seconds in the PTS. IMPOSSIBLE, but perfect and surreal. He “gets” Bond’s world, and I’m glad he hung around for two.

And when we get Bond 25, Spectre will look even better - it’ll be a memorable, “mid-period” Craig movie, part of the furniture, and not the “disappointing” last entry. It’s not a great movie to leave hanging out there stinking the place up when production grinds to a halt, just like LTK and QOS.

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