Seeing the classic Bond Gun Barrel sequence right at the beginning of the movie made me feel nostalgic. Plenty of other scenes in Spectre evoked the same emotion, making it feel like an homage to Bond of old. Many have faulted it for this exact reason, but I embrace it as a welcome change from Craig’s usual Bond formula.
It opens wonderfully in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead with masses of people dressed appropriately for a masquerade. It’s by far one of the best opening sequences in any movie, let alone a Bond one and right from the get-go, I could understand that this was going to be a different ride from Casino Royale or Skyfall. Spectre tells a much more personal story than any of Craig’s Bond films. It was a good move because the previous three movies had woven a very intricate story for Bond that was just waiting to be unraveled (Quantum of Solace did very little though). In all honesty, Spectre didn’t exactly do that, but I learned a lot about Bond, his childhood, why he does what he does; I got to see a more emotionally vulnerable side of Bond and seeing him like that made me perceive him as more human than the stoic, one-line spouting killing machine.
I could see the weight of all the events that took place in the previous movies taking a toll on him. It was one of the Bond girls and the villain, Oberhauser that really brought out a wide range of emotions in Bond. Speaking of them, all the supporting cast members had surprisingly large roles to play in the film and each of them did a bang-up job. Léa Seydoux did not disappoint in her role and even though I found Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd a better match for Bond, she filled the role quite well seeing as to Vesper’s disposition. Christoph Waltz’s Franz Oberhauser was delightfully evil, cruel and devious and his character reminded me so much of the classic Bond villains. But that seems apt in a movie that worships its lineage. My only gripe is that he was on screen for a little shorter than I’d like. Each of Craig’s Bond movies has produced memorable villains (except Quantum of Solace – that’s the black sheep of his four Bond movies) such as Le Chiffre and Silva. Oberhauser is another fine addition to that roster and seeing him toy with Bond is a treat – that sounds wrong.
Daniel Craig had done very well to reinvent Bond with his previous movies, making him grittier and generally more realistic. It was a much needed change after the Bond franchise was limping on during the 90s and was seen as more of a clown than a professional spy. Craig’s bond relies more on his wits than on some deus ex machina and his one-liners aren’t cheesy (thank God!); he was a lot more restrained and struck me more as a highly trained assassin than as a suave casanova as the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan movies had. Spectre harkens back to that old Bond, but without completely ruining the current Bond’s identity – he orders a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, instead of his usual Vesper (the drink, not the woman). This time around, Craig seems to be enjoying his character a lot more and this is the loosest I’ve ever seen him in a Bond film.
I love how the story managed to tie together loose ends from the previous movies in a such an consummate manner. Usually, the movies are about Bond taking orders from MI6 to stop some evil mastermind and the story ensues from there. Here however, Bond chooses his own mission and more or less goes rogue – he becomes like a ronin without his master, MI6. This leads to a very stimulating story, although it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Nevertheless, watching it in the Bond universe should make it a little more refreshing. There is a side plot involving the entirety of MI6 and the Double O program, but I saw the exact same thing a few months ago in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and I felt that that movie had done this part better.
If this really is Daniel Craig’s last Bond movie, then I’ll say that I can’t think of a more perfect ending to his time as Bond. Everything was tied up in a neat bow eventually and the ending was really optimistic. It left Bond happier and more fulfilled than I thought he would be and for a tortured soul like him, that’s always a good thing. Craig’s Bond in this movie seemed like the perfect blend of his former self and Sean Connery’s Bond. Despite being so focused on making us recall old Bond memories, it still manages to carve its own identity and not seem like a cheap imitation. Casino Royale still remains my favorite Craig Bond movie, but Spectre comes in a close second. In the end, it was enjoyable and was a stellar swansong for Craig’s Bond, if this was indeed his last outing as 007.