Like a Kid in a Candy Store of Bond Delights
by Nicolás Suszczyk (@NSuszczyk)
There’s a basic premise with the 24th James Bond movie: you either love it or you hate it.
I am, of course, among that former group, among those who believed the fourth Daniel Craig 007 movie was a brilliant James Bond film and refuse to hear all those who speak negatively about the movie.
It all harkens back to a day in November 2015, where I was in a place I can’t reveal, holding the hand of a woman whose identity I can’t also reveal, and the welcome white dots traversed the black screen, leading to the first *proper* Daniel Craig gun barrel sequence.
I think of Spectre as a proper 50th anniversary Bond film, even more so than Skyfall. The return of 007’s most remarkable nemesis, cleverly portrayed by Christoph Waltz; the elegance of that white tuxedo with the red carnation, a thrilling pre-credits sequence and some humorous gags reminiscent of the Roger Moore era. A lightness had return to the Craig era.
I loved everything people hated. But let’s start with the music department. Thomas Newman provided a soundtrack that touched me to the bones, from the sleuthish “Vauxhall Bridge” to the African vibes of “L’Americain” and the romantic piano in “Madeleine”. In many ways it is very similar to Skyfall, And yes, at first I complained about the score. But as soon as I saw how the music aligned with the images on the big screen, my ear was more eager enough to catch the subtleties and enjoy the brilliant ways Newman’s score combined with the beautiful shots by Hoyte Van Hoytema. The pairing of sound and image in shots of the train through the Moroccan desert rank up there with the work of Phil Méheux, Michael Reed and Ted Moore. They’re some of my favorite visuals in the entire series.
I’d also like to consider the ultra-hated “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith. The lyrics expressed Bond’s inner sanctuary. Images of the naked actor, intertwined with female bodies and octopus tentacles, appear in the main titles by Daniel Kleinman. The melody mixes drama, romance, weakness and strength – making it unique among the series. The use of the instrumental section of the theme as Bond and Madeleine unleash their passion is second to none!
My only issues with the script were the omission of dialogue that could have helped us understand, for example, how Madeleine had become so important to Bond. Between them there were more actions that words, and words were certainly needed. Compare their conversations to Bond and Vesper in Casino Royale, or Bond and Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Each of those films provided better establishment for their respecitve relationships. Still, Léa Seydoux is a great actress and her talents overcome some of these scriptural deficiencies.
Spectre offered an interesting reworking of the shadow organization for the 21st century. Blofeld tried to achieve world domination in a more subtle way, by controlling the intelligence networks. Even though I loved Silva as a character, he lacked ambition beyond killing an old lady in Skyfall. Here, we have Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s plot tied into Bond’s past and lifted from Ian Fleming’s short story Octopussy. Spectre even borrows a lightened version of 007’s torment at the hands of Colonel Sun in Kingsley Amis’ only Bond novel.
The action scenes were also well played. The gags in the Aston Martin DB10 with the failing gadgets. The thrilling helicopter fight over the Day of the Dead parade. The well-choreographed snow plane crash. The fight with Hinx on the train. All of these scenes brought back images of classic 007.
I also loved the last scene. Craig’s Bond deserved, at least once, the classic triumphalist ending, girl in hand. If he retires from the role, that final image would remain justifiable sign-off for his four-film cycle.
All in all, I consider Spectre the best film from the Craig era and perhaps the best since The World is not Enough. Even though I recognize the merits of Casino Royale, I can’t help but be thrilled by every frame of Spectre. I felt like a kid in a candy store of Bond delights.
First Bond Movie: GoldenEye on TV, Tomorrow Never Dies on the big screen.
Favourite Bond Actor: Pierce Brosnan
Favourite Bond Girl: Eva Green to marry, Famke Janssen for an occasional fling.
How I discovered #Bond_age_: Discussing Bond with unknown people worldwide.