Spectre is a thrill fest and a movie which does not require you to think very much.
This is not unusual in a Bond movie because if you did pause to consider, you’d realise how ridiculously absurd a lot of things are. The vengeful brother, the silent hired muscle, the need for more government oversight to “protect” its citizens. It all falls short pretty quickly. So rather than analyzing the plot, sit back and enjoy the very entertaining ride instead.
After almost blowing up an entire block in Mexico, Bond is stood down indefinitely by M (Ray Fiennes). Not that this stops Bond from stealing a new state of the art Aston Martin and making a run to one of the funerals.
There are a lot of sweepingly beautiful locations used in the filming of the movie. There’s Mexico, England (the least beautiful now its a concrete mess), Italy, Morocco, Austria,.
Much of it really serves as a distraction to the incredibly high volume of a-ha moments which are a regular feature in the Bond films. As we all know, an a-ha moment is often done for convenience, serving more as an interlude between scenes than a measure of great intelligence. Bond just happens to have a feeling that he must attend a funeral in Italy, save Sciarra’s widow from assassination, and seduce her in return for vital intelligence about a secret organisation. He just happens to narrowly escape that meeting when the group’s leader Ernst Blofeld notices him, jumping and running to a car. There just happens to be a boat, helicopter, explosive wrist watch on hand to help out, not to mention Bond’s perfect intuition to know exactly where his new love interest is.
But what makes Spectre work (just) is that it doesn’t really dwell too long on these a-ha moment – it just allows Bond to get on with it. Moving through Austria, he finds Mr. White in ailing health. Giving his word to protect White’s daughter, Madeline Swann, Bond takes off after her after White end his own life. There’s more chaos, but suddenly, after random rushing around, Bond has a new girl and a vague idea of where to find Blofeld.
Mr. Hinx (played by the likeable Dave Baustista), the assassin who chased Bond out of the meeting through Rome, reemerges from the shadows in Morocco. While Batista is an entertaining actor, his character is not around enough in this film for us to genuinely be concerned that he could stop any of the good guys.
While all this is happening, back in London, M is in a power struggle with C, who wants to shut down the 00 division and create a Nine Eyes spy agency. This, C believes will protect the people far more effectively than those with a license to kill. Meetings are held between all the Nine Eye country leaders and eventually there is consensus that it should be implemented. The 00 group is shutdown and – as the old cliche goes – all hell breaks loose.
Secrets come out (none that are too surprising) and heart stopping action scenes begin. It is more of a classic Bond style movie, reminiscent of the Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore eras. While they work altogether, I am not sure exactly why they diverted away from the brilliant reinvention of the series that Casino Royale and Skyfall brought. Part of the problem which comes with the classic formula is the average feel. Nothing ever seems so exciting, so dangerous or so ominous that you wonder how things will pan out. The villains are lame caricatures. Bond often proves to be useless and rather than demonstrating wit and intelligence, he relies on the villain’s idiocy, or Swann’s help, to escape certain death.
But, as a lifelong Bond fan, I can partially forgive these flaws, mainly because I accepted that thinking about it would make me feel disappointed. Instead, I went along with the journey, enjoyed the flash toys, high octane action scenes, beautiful women and, of course, another great performance by Daniel Craig.