Movie review: Spectre (2015) (with spoilers)

I’m going to start this review off with a disclaimer: I come from a family of James Bond-haters. I come from a family that responds with “but why?” when I tell them I’m going to see a James Bond movie. I’ve only seen Skyfall (which I really liked!) and I very vaguely remember bits and pieces of Casino Royale (I think?). As such, I am no expert on anything James Bond-related.

Which means that if you’re the same as me, I’ve got THE review for you! Or, you know. A review, at least.

Spectre is the latest in the immensely long list of James Bond movies. Starring Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Andrew Scott, and a whole list of other white actors (save for one actress, though I legitimately can’t think of any other non-white characters). This story focuses on Bond’s demons from the past who have come to mess up his current life.

This movie has everything a modern Bond movie needs:

A slightly cranky Bond who looks like all he wants is to just get the darn job done already. 
Does anyone else think that maybe it’s time for Daniel Craig to move on to other projects? Or maybe it’s time to actually retire James Bond? Maybe he needs some change in his life, something different from the, err, routine, of killing people and blowing up buildings. Maybe start with a different drink, stick with one girl for a while. I don’t know. Either way, if you ask me he’s looking worse for the wear, and like he’s in dire need of someone to make sure he doesn’t have international gangs of supervillains after him for a change.

A girl who is “Smart and Strong”™ but ends up mostly standing around being pretty. 
Oh, does this girl start off right. But oh does this role go downhill quick. In all honesty, this is probably what bugged me the most in the entire movie. I can deal with cranky spies and gravity defying helicopters and somewhat over-complicated conspiracy theories. I don’t deal well with series of tropes worked together into one, lazy character. I’m not even going to waste more words on this.

The exact same music as Skyfall. 
No really. No need to download the OST for Spectre. If you already have Skyfall, you’re all set! Lovers of these movies, please let me know if they’ve just been using the same soundtrack for years now, because this one was literally 100% the same as the previous one. No change whatsoever. I’m all for keeping certain motives to keep the brand going, you know, recognisability and all that. But this is pushing it. It’s also lazy.

Instalove
One of the most hated tropes of Young Adult lit has made it to the Bond franchise (or has always been there, I don’t know). Either way, this one’s obviously connected to the previous point of the Smart and Strong girl, and you can probably guess what’s going to happen here. (I did warn you about the spoilers).

Stunts that defy at least 12 different laws of physics. 
Surprisingly enough, I can actually deal with this. Is it stupid to see a helicopter roll over in the air or fly nose-upwards into the sky for a long time? Yes. Is it also stupid to see someone fly a helicopter (which requires constant control and adjusting and concentration) and not pay attention to actually flying it so he could stare at the city skyline and at a strange object he just found? Yes, super stupid. It’s also very much in the realm of possibility within this movie’s universe and, you know. I like science fiction, I can deal with silly science. I don’t expect much realism.

Gadgets (and accompanying humor) 
Okay, so this part I did enjoy. Q is back with some gadgets (Q is also having a very hard time in this movie and I wanted to give the poor thing a hug), Bond is having a hard time with the gadgets,

Surprising amounts of outfit changes.
No but really, these people are suddenly on the run, they’re figuring out an international conspiracy, they’re running out of time. Yet they all manage to keep at least 5 different outfits somewhere + make-up + shoes + weaponry. Yet they also travel light. To be honest, this is still the biggest mystery of the entire movie for me. Teach me your ways, oh great spies and mysterious ladies.

And finally, a real point of annoyance: the expectation of knowledge of the Bond franchise 
Is it just me, did I just miss a lot, or does this movie rely quite a lot on knowledge of the previous films? I recognised some things, yes, but I feel like I missed out on a lot of information simply because I barely know the previous movies. Maybe I’d have enjoyed this much more if I’d had a better understanding of the franchise and its history. Maybe I’d have enjoyed it more if I’d just seen at least the 3 before Skyfall. Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention. I don’t know. I just know that I was very confused at some of the seemingly big moments, and at a lot of the comments.

All in all, this movie feels like a very typical modern movie in a long franchise. There’s a trend nowadays where characters get caught up by their past, where everything is more complicated than it seems, where dead people just won’t stay dead and dealt with. I’ve seen it in Doctor Who, I’ve seen it in other movies and series, I see it now in James Bond. And in all honesty? It’s starting to annoy me. Let these characters be happy for once, for crying out loud.

I’m sure a lot of people will really enjoy this movie. It definitely has its enjoyable parts, and part of my crankiness about it is just exhaustion combined with a lack of knowledge about the Bond world. For what it’s worth, it is making me want to pick up some of the novels at some point and to watch some of the previous movies, just so I can maybe rewatch this one some day and hopefully appreciate it a bit more.

I’m sure that if you’re not very picky, if you like a kind of standard formula to your action movies (a lot of people do, and it’s fine! I’m definitely not always up for the more experimental movies either.), and if you don’t mind the questionable logic and logistics, then this is a fine movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s enjoyable.

Spectre is out in cinemas now.

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