Renewed appreciation for Spectre


#23

But if Bond had passed his GCSE Geography, he would know that Alpine sheep farmers only use these barns in the summer, when they can graze their animals further up the mountains​:nerd_face: Case dismissed!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#24

So how do we feel about Bond sending the BMW hurtling into the Avis office in Tomorrow Never Dies? That always struck me as particularly risky to innocents…


#25

It is. Same with driving the tank through St Petersburg, or the Q boat through London. But the tone of these sequences is always comic relief. I never felt like anyone from the public was at risk only because the films wouldn’t allow it.


#26

So why does Spectre? CR, QOS and Skyfall have equally as life endangering set pieces - the parkour chase, the car chase opener and the car/bike chase through Istanbul respectively. None of the 26 Bond movies stand up to deeper thinking, they arn’t meant to.

It’s like when you see people whinging about the impossible physics in The Last Jedi.

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#28

Thanks for reminding me! Yes, it’s an even better example of the shark of permissible risk of collateral damage being jumped (sorry, that’s a mouthful isn’t it!)

This scene really makes me uneasy every time. Particularly Brossa chuckling away at his aim when it hits the rental shop. There could’ve easily been a family; a mother pushing a buggy past the shop at that moment. My initial reaction to that was one of horror, followed swiftly by ‘what a knob’!

99% of Bond set pieces, including those you mentioned, successfully walk the line suspending our expectations of everyday behaviour and risk. He’s fleeing, or pursing in haste; bullets fly, stuff explodes etc. Bond doesn’t have much choice or time to think.

But in the remaining 1%; Bond deciding to accelerate towards a barn adjacent to a house; crashing his car into what he knows is a street full of innocents… These very few scenes (i’m sure one or two others could be pointed out by someone not so hungover) is where i think the writers have jumped that shark.

They assume that we’ll continue to ignore the elephant in the room - that we’ll be entertained and not question. Judging by the reaction here and lack of negative resonance regarding these rare moments they’re right - most do continue to ignore it.

So i guess i’m in a minority when feel let down by these rare moments, seeing them as writers fudging character motivation and consistency (the Bond i’ve read and watched would be unlikely to sacrifice innocents so readily and in TND’s case with mirth) in order to have a ‘big bang’ moment.

The Bond character is a question mark that constantly asks 'What is ‘too far’? How ruthless should he become in order to defeat the villain before he becomes as bad as the bad guy - indistinguishable. Craig and Connery pose this question with consistency, as they walk the line.

But i find that these 1% moments go lumbering over the line, invalidating these most interesting of subtextual questions. They only way to watch the character thereafter is either as a psychopath or a total comic book entity whom must not be analysed or he falls to pieces. The former alienates most of the audience, so the latter becomes the default option, which leaves me asking, why have they diminished Fleming’s 3-dimensional character to 2?

I doubt any of this occurs to, or bothers the writers, who in these rare moments give it all up for a ‘bang moment’.

His journey with Vesper; love, death, revenge and forgiveness completed that journey from ex-special forces Robot Bond, to the more nuanced canon Bond. As you say, it should indeed be a one off journey (once per Bond actor). I think if this journey was an intentional part of SP, then it screams a desire for the franchise to be taken seriously, but a bankruptcy of ideas regarding how to do that.

It reveals a paradox in their strategy: They think the audience are smart enough to desire a depth of character, yet assume they won’t notice, or care that it’s a story recently played out in CR and QoS.

IMO it’s not a strategy at all. I don’t think SP is playing out the Robot Bond story. These 1%-jumping the shark moments (as i referred to them above) are simply a lapse in reason - writers sacrificing consistency of character for a ‘big bang’ moment.


#29

Agree with these comments. SPECTRE does have entertaining sequences, and up to the standard I expect of the Craig era, as established by Casino Royale. My favourite stretch of film is everything on the train, up to Bond’s torture in the chair.

Honestly, I don’t see it much different to the spirit of Moore’s skiing escapades during FYEO, landing on tables and such. The man is in a rush, during the heat of the moment, and just goes with it.


#30

Too bad it took four movies and nine years to progress Craig-Bond beyond “psycho chump” status.

Not that I disagree with your assessment, it’s just kind of depressing.


#31

Craig’s Bond will always have that gritty toughness, but I don’t know if I’d label him a ‘psycho chump’. He was a wounded warrior who 1, recovered from Vesper’s death/betrayal, and 2, recommitted himself to the service after a near death experience in Istanbul.

Bond lives a solitary life but made MI6 his family. For a time he was happy with that.

Skyfall: “Who says I’m on my own?”
SPECTRE: “I’m not alone.”

Madeleine made him stop to think about moving on for good, to the point it’s likely Bond 25 has a retired Bond living the soft life. Which is why I’m eager to see how they finally end his arc.


#32

What’s weird about SPECTRE: all the elements are there. But they are jumbled, introduced and given up, never mix together to form a thought out full narrative or at least enough spectacle.

The PTS: wonderful start until Bond lands on the sofa. From that point onwards the location is wasted and the stunt - except the looping - is too much like the one in FYEO.

Then the funeral and the interrupted assassination: very good. The seduction: weak. This is where the Lucia character should have been used for the whole narrative. Instead she is dropped. Why?

The secret meeting: rather good. The dialogue for Bond - Mickey Mouse - was criticized by Pascal and stayed nevertheless. Why no polish here? Nobody came up with a better line there?

The car chase: no tension. The parachuting: cheaply realized.

The Mr. White sequence is well directed - but it does not build up that character enough to believe that this ruthless killer is also a father loving his daughter. Why not use Mr. White for a longer stretch of the film - maybe even showing him going to Austria, trying to protect Madeleine, with Bond following him and Mr. Hinx killing Mr. White there?

The plain chase - sluggish, slow, predictable. I know they wanted to offer something else, not another ski chase. But a ski chase would have been much more interesting.

Q being followed and immediately shaking off the goons as if this were a children’s afternoon program. Yes, this is one remaining part of the previous script versions in which Q was indeed captured. Why not cut Q completely off this section if the rest of this subplot had to be cut anyway?

The secret room-sequence: good interplay between Bond and Madeleine, until the mouse appears and shows the way to the hidden compartment. What a complicated and boring way just to deliver that little information. This is where I wonder why with so many highly regarded people behind the scenes no-one said: Throw this out immediately! If we want to show how Bond and Madeleine get closer together, there are a million better ways. And let’s not slow down the film in the middle.

Then Mr. Hinx on the train: great fight. But to kill Mr. Hinx at this point, again, is such a waste. You don’t introduce someone like that and then get rid of him. How great it would have been if Mr. Hinx had reappeared at Blofeld´s HQ, torturing Bond and being the real obstacle for his escape?

At this point: what is Bond´s plan? Oh, let’s travel to that forgotten train station and… wait until Oberhauser sends us his chauffeur? Who green lighted that idea? Why not have Bond follow some kind of signal, staking out that weird HQ and then getting captured?

The meeting with Oberhauser: nicely underplayed. But then that demonstration of Nine Eyes… totally forced. Madeleine already knows her father is dead. Why is Bond so scared of her watching him be in the same room? If you want to milk Mr. White´s death you should have had Bond lie to Madeleine before: I don’t know what happened to your father, he disappeared - something like that.

Then, the torture. When you have the villain explain how his torture works and what damage those needles will do… and then they don’t do any damage at all… Again, a totally forced scene with no dramatic impact. Also… the Blofeld reveal. Why the whole Oberhauser charade before? The movie is called SPECTRE. Of course, Blofeld will appear. So why not drawing back the curtains right at the meeting in Rome? Bond discovers that the head of SPECTRE, a bloke named Blofeld, is in fact his own stepbrother Franz Oberhauser. The way it was done was only a wink to those who know the name Blofeld. Others will have shrugged and say: so what?

Then, the TND-Machine Gun-Bond single handedly shooting everybody in his way… yeah, there were again tons of better ways for a typically Bondian escape. And if you want to save on money and locations, why extending the finale to London? Why not have Bond call for backup and get the cavalry fight over Blofeld´s HQ?

How? Well, there is the Smart Blood device. Which is introduced… and then doesn’t fulfill any purpose except bringing Q to Austria. If they did not plan to really do something with it - like Bond being rescued by the cavalry, locating him with that - why even introduce it?

And if Mendes desperately wanted to end the film in the old Mi6 headquarters in London, then why construct this overcomplicated mess of how Madeleine accompanies Bond, then leaves him and so on.

Why not have Blofeld abduct Madeleine at the HQ and then taking her to London in order to lure Bond back into danger?

And don’t get me even started on the low and slow flying helicopter, just waiting for Bond to shoot him down with… a bullet.

Why not have Bond follow Oberhauser into the helicopter, letting them fight there, resulting in a crash on the bridge? Yes, take the stunt from the PTS and put it here (much easier to film in darkness, without so many extras etc.). And supplant that helicopter idea from the PTS with something which can use the parade much more - a foot chase leading into a motorcycle chase? Or hey, why not stay on top of the roofs? With Bond and the bad guy falling off, landing on one of the big DotD-parade wagons?

Oh, so many opportunities wasted, I could go on and on.

I understand that the shooting was plagued by disasters which led to so many shortcuts and cut ideas, resulting in the huge mess of compromise we all saw. But… wouldn’t many of the problems have already been solved in the protracted script process?

That thought alone points to the senselessness of “with more time they could get it right”. No, they couldn’t.


#33

I think “too many cooks” going by those Sony leaks…


#34

Could? :stuck_out_tongue:


#35

SAF - great post.

All the elements are there…which over the decades has too often been the case with Bond film construction. Elements first, and then hang them together as a story. When it works, no-one notices. When it doesn’t, it’s all too apparent. TMWTGG - whether one likes it or not, I don’t think it can be debated that it is low on most lists outside fandom. As a film, it seems to have all the elements, from set-pieces to characters - a classic car stunt, a strong central villain, a script with some great lines (I think the M-Bond office scene is as good as anything in OHMSS). And yet as a story it seems to depend on coincidences and characters being forced to act in almost comically ridiculous ways, because the plot has to get to the next “element.”

IMHO, it’s not a coincidence that the best films are all straight-up adaptations of the source material, from FRWL to OHMSS to CR. Even FYEO with so much lifted from LALD, hang together because the original story-teller was just doing that - telling a story. Rather than trying to link together some great moments created in isolation, rather than organically.


#36

Thanks so much SAF. I will say that I have never watched a movie that way–why did they do that instead of this. I can see how disappointing SPECTRE could be from that perspective. Next time I watch the film, I will try and keep in mind the many shortcuts involved and see if/how that inflects my experience.


#37

Far simpler and miles better.

Your excellent solution i just quoted above is reason enough to wonder if someone had spiked SP’s production office with LSD.

It’s a curse…


#38

I will admit that it does seem that way to me. I also can say I now understand at a deeper level the problems people have with SPECTRE, and that they are experiencing the film with a completely different aesthetic than mine. As I wrote in another thread, I am at home with Robin Wood’s concept of the incoherent text, so the disjointed elements of an artwork do not throw me off. The “why-didn’t-they-make-it-this-way” approach seems akin to watching a baseball game and wondering why the pitcher threw a slider instead of a fastball (please substitute your sport of choice).


#39

I’ve always appreciated that analogy of “too many cooks” with regards to SPECTRE. For all the above observations, I’ve described it in hindsight as more a matter of “too many ingredients”. Like over-seasoning a good stew so that the individual flavor of the main parts is lost.


#40

It’s comes with when you spin out stories yourself: you have a character like Lucia, whose husband Bond kills, and she’s not at all sad about it. You wonder, could she maybe have initiated a 00-divorce herself? In return for spilling the beans about Spectre?

And even though that’s practically the next best idea, a real no brainer, the film doesn’t use it. Doesn’t use the logical sequence of events because…I don’t know, maybe they were not prepared to extend Bellucci’s role beyond the three minutes we see her.

And frankly, having Bellucci would be very much putting the money on the screen,


#41

Don’t get me wrong, i usually watch and enjoy the movie first, then analyse afterward. That’s unless something really sticks out, jars you out of the narrative, at which point i’ll tend to wonder why?

Off the top of my head there’s DAD’s paraglide, after which i was permanently divorced from proceedings, and there’s the final act of SP. Not such a jarring divorce, more an estrangement, as it gradually revealed itself to be a tv episode of Spooks pretending to be a Bond movie.

But it wouldn’t have put the target demographic on the screen (at least the movie studio idea of a target demographic).

Well thank god they’re not doing that to Bond 25 :wink:


#42

While I like SPECTRE and it’s my second favorite Daniel Craig film, I am not blind to the problems–particularly the step-brother angle, ugh. :angry:

You make some interesting and good points there SAF, several of which are better than the finished product.

However, your above comment, I think you misinterpreted the scene. I never thought Bond was worried that Madeleine would see him with her father before he died. Rather, I believe he was trying to protect her from watching her father die.


#43

Moreover, commit suicide.

And i certainly agree that many of SAF’s ideas are better than those in the movie, which seem to be collaged together like a ransom note desperate to conceal its author.