Caution - There Be Spoilers Ahead!
I am a huge Bond fan and was so excited to see this film. The James Bond films are one of the few franchises nowadays that I get the most excited for. I was worried at first because I had heard mixed reviews of the film, and had heard what some people’s problems with the film were, but I was not too worried. Once this film started with its unbelievably shot long take in Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos leading to the helicopter action sequence, I became so invested into this world, and it had my attention the whole time from the traditional gun barrel sequence at the very start.
When the movie ended and I left, I honestly could not, and still cannot, think of a single complaint I have with the film as a film alone and as a Bond film, and I can tend to be pretty picky of a movie. It definitely deserves more praise than it has received; while the film cannot quite reach the pedestal of Casino Royale (2006), it does surpass, I believe, Skyfall (2012) by a small margin (which might be a tad overrated).
It depends which audiences you get with this one: the average moviegoer or the true Bond fan. Even some Bond fans were disappointed, and for the life of me I do not understand why. When one takes into account the various complaints people had with this movie, they will discover that almost all of them are unfounded.
One of the complaints was that it lacked a good story or plot, and I disagree completely. The movie’s plot is there and it is strong and not too hard for the average moviegoer to understand. In simple terms, Bond is trying to track down the man the last M (Judi Dench) wanted him to if anything were to ever happen to her (her surprising death at the end of the last film, Skyfall). So his path leads him to SPECTRE, which leads him to Mr. White, where he promises to protect his daughter, the new memorable Bond girl, Madeleine (Lea Seydoux). There’s not much else someone needs to know or understand, other than the somewhat involved backstory on how Oberhauser aka Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) has been behind the attempts to kill James Bond, as he describes himself, the “author of all his pain.”
Some people complained that this film went to extremes to connect the last few films, but it seemed a little refreshing how it explained this, because we finally got down to where it all began with Vesper (Eva Green) in Casino Royale, and Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) from the same movie, Dominic Green (Mathieu Amalric) from Quantum of Solace (2008), and the classic villain, Silva (Javier Bardem), from Skyfall. It tied them all together.
Many people also thought the film was too long, boring/slow in spots with a rushed ending. Even coming from a dedicated Bond fan, I did not get this vibe at all. Yes, the film is longer than the average Bond, but it has purpose. People complained that Quantum was all action and not enough slow pace and story, so now we get the opposite with Spectre and people are still displeased? In the downtime from the riveting action scenes and edge of your seat car chases, there is purpose in the times we get to escape from the intensity of the film. And the ending did not feel rushed at all; in fact, it was one of the most intense moments of the whole film, with a really interesting turn for the final confrontation with Bond and Blofeld, and an emotionally impacting scene when he refuses to kill his most notorious enemy.
One of the last complaints people had with the film was that the main villain, Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld, was not in the film enough, or at least not very much. When people said this I was expecting like two five-minute scenes, but he is in several pivotal moments, and I never got the feeling he was absent from too much of the film. Even if he was, the character of Blofeld, being the mastermind, has never had that much screen time in any of his films other than On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), which this film pays homage to in the snowy mountains of Switzerland. But Blofeld is in the intensely quiet conference room of SPECTRE, he is in the long scene of him touring his lair with Bond and torturing him in the facility in the middle of the desert, and he is in the final scenes of the movie for some really white-knuckle moments. I would say that altogether it is at least forty-five minutes of screen time. And besides, he stole every scene he was in. Silva from Skyfall did not appear until a little past halfway through the movie, yet he doesn’t get any rub for this same issue.
I could talk all day about this film, but in the end I was so excited and pumped for this adventure and it did not disappoint; it actually exceeded my expectations through its return to a romance story with Bond and Madeleine, the emotional ending, the nostalgic references through the Aston Martin, the music, the incidental moments of humor, the scenery, the characters, the big baddie (Dave Bautista), hearkening back to the classic Bond films, making this a classic Bond film all on its own. Not only is it an excellent Bond film, it’s an excellent film period. It is one of the most intense action films I have ever seen that from start to finish had me the whole time. The beautiful, sweeping score of Thomas Newman was incredible and Oscar-worthy, along with the Goldfinger (1964)/Casino Royale/GoldenEye (1995) type song, “The Writing’s on the Wall” performed by Sam Smith, with the loud swells of the orchestra and brass and the cues of the classic Bond theme. Exquisitely full of screen-dripping cinematography and incredible locations, they have really outdone themselves this time with this film. Everything about it is GOLDEN.
As the end of the film says, “James Bond Will Return,” and per Daniel Craig’s contract, we hope he returns for at least one more. He has provided a lot of emotion and depth to his character over the years along with his knack for suave and sophisticated appearances. Craig and Connery truly do define the character of James Bond. The film is very underrated and deserves so much more. Ian Fleming would be proud of this film. Watching this movie through to the end leaves me so inspired. Like the incredible Casino Royale and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), I want to make action-packed movies like this one.