The James Bond Franchise Comes Full Circle 

IMG_4040For the last nine years, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have been on a mission to restore the James Bond franchise to the heights it knew When Barbara’s father and Wilson’s stepfather, Albert R. ‘Cubby” Broccoli, was the man in charge of bringing James Bond off the pages and onto the big screen. After some disappointing numbers and subpar films with Pierce Brosnan they decided to make a change. The new Bond would be entrusted with the responsibility of breathing life back into the world’s most famous spy. In step Daniel Craig, a blonde haired, blue eyed actor not enormously famous and not what every other Bond had looked like or been described like in the books. Needless to say the fan base was not happy. Jump to present day and it’s not out of reach by any means to give Daniel Craig the title of the best Bond ever. Rebooting the franchise with Casino Royale, the first of the books, fans would quickly be sold on their new Bond and the new look of the films. Casino Royale would be followed up by another franchise first, a direct sequel with Quantum Of Solace. Again fans were up in arms just with the title. Though not as strong as Royale, Quantum did successfully finish what Royale started.

Then came the crown jewel for Craig, Skyfall. Its massive success and incredible reviews, it was no question that Broccoli and Wilson were accomplishing their goal. Bond had a new look not only physically, but esthetically on film. With Oscar winners like Paul Haggis and Sam Mendes lending their talents to the franchise, there was no question Bond was back and better than ever.

On December 4th, 2014 when the title of the newest Bond film and its cast would be announced, it was the first time there didn’t seem to be any backlash from the faithful Bond enthusiasts. SPECTRE let everyone know that everything they loved about Bond was on its way back and in a big way. With two time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as the villain and Sam Mendes returning to direct the anticipation was at a fever pitch.

Eleven months later the time has arrived. Would it deliver? Would it bomb? Or would it be exactly what it should be? The trouble is that Bond fans are almost always split one way or another when it comes to the films on first release. In the end, though, they love them all in their own way. This will be true even with SPECTRE.

SPECTRE is the culmination of the vision Barbara and Michael set out to deliver. Where it appeared that Quantum was the end of Casino Royale and Skyfall was a new stand alone Bond like all the others, SPECTRE would prove otherwise. The re-boot truly is complete now.

In the new film Bond is on a private mission that is unsanctioned by MI6 and it couldn’t come at a worse time as the 00 division is under fire and being accused of being outdated and unnecessary. While making headlines in all the wrong places, Bond is grounded by M, played excellently by Ralph Finnes, and forbidden from leaving London. However Bond is ultimately fulfilling one last mission for M’s predecessor. With the help of Q and Moneypenny, he ventures out all over Europe to fulfill his mission without any idea what he will find. What Bond slowly uncovers is an organization unlike any he has seen before and a look into his past he never expected to find.

The return of the criminal organization SPECTRE makes true Bond enthusiasts more excited than can be described. As the filmIMG_4037 goes on, the things fans were wondering and predicting begin to unfold. I don’t consider this a spoiler because no Bond film has ever had many surprises because that’s not their goal.

I made a point to not read any critics reviews until after I experienced the film for myself. I was and yet I wasn’t surprised to see it get panned by most of the “major” or “expert” critics. They seemed to pick it apart bit by bit. Skyfall was repeatedly mentioned and one critic even mentioned Orson Welles. This is simply unfair to the film. To pick apart a Bond movie and analyze it so deeply like a piece of art is unrealistic. Bond films are not pieces of art, not to say they aren’t great, but they also aren’t Citizen Kane.

When reviewing a Bond film you need to look at the details as well as the ridiculous. SPECTRE really does deliver on all fronts. From the opening sequence, which has always been a staple of the franchise, is eye popping with every bit of action one could hope for. It will ultimately be as memorable as Goldeneye’s bungee dive off the damn and subsequent airplane dive.

The one truly great thing about SPECTRE are the very subtle and very slight recreations of moments from almost every Bond film ever. For example, a train ride is abruptly interrupted by a hand to hand combat battle with the muscle end of the villainous side. This is very much an homage to the classic battle between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love. Hardcore Bond fans will recognize many of these references.

If there is anything negative about SPECTRE it would be two things I noticed. The length of the film could have easily been cut down by half an hour. It is the longest running Bond film at 2 hours 28 minutes. The second disappointment would be the theme song which is only slightly saved by one of the most beautiful opening title sequences in Bond history. In fairness to the theme song, it did have very large shoes to fill following Adele’s theme for Skyfall which earned her the Academy Award (which had never been done before despite some memorable theme songs).

SPECTRE is one hell of a good ride and if you go into the film with an open mind and not the idea that it should trump Skyfall or Goldfinger, you will be engrossed and leave the movie feeling more than satisfied. Enjoy James Bond because he is… James Bond. He is not Hamlet and never will be.

10 thoughts on “The James Bond Franchise Comes Full Circle ”

  1. Great post, although I have to say I disagree with your overall analysis. Of course, that’s what’s great about film. We all see things differently.

    Personally, I don’t think you have to compare the movie to “Citizen Kane” to find fault. The big problem is that it doesn’t have an original bone in its body. The action sequences are subpar, the “Bond gone rogue” thing has been done before and Christopher Waltz doesn’t get enough screen time. All this and — as you mentioned — the movie is far too long, yet contains plot points that aren’t fully fleshed out.

    I would argue that this is not only a so-so Bond film but that it’s Sam Mendes’ worst movie.

    1. I definitely agree that Waltz doesn’t get enough screen time. As far as originality I think it could be argued that after 24 Bond movies things are definitely going to repeat especially if the ultimate goal is to get back to its original formula. I think most of the action sequences are very much what we love about Bond in the fact that they are so ridiculous and inconceivable all while keeping his suit buttoned and hair perfect you almost have to love them. I’m glad you still enjoyed the post despite our different viewpoints!! You are right that’s the great thing about film!

      1. I suppose I have just grown tired of the formula when the director doesn’t play with it. That’s what I loved about “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall.” The Bond formula was lurking in the background but there were still interesting surprises. I can’t think of a single moment in this movie that offered anything new.

        The action sequences are, of course, pure opinion. I guess the plane chase was creative, but I was hoping for something like the opening sequence in “The Spy Who Loved Me” or “Skyfall” or “For Your Eyes Only” or “Goldeneye.” I think “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” gets the award for best opening actioner this year. Probably doesn’t help that it also did the whole rogue agent thing months before Bond.

        I also just realized that I misspelled Christoph Waltz’s name in the last post. Damn you autocorrect. Thanks for the fun conversation!

      2. Lol no problem but Bond rogue agent dates back to license to kill and honestly casino royale. But I love talking and debating Bond all day. He’s just a great conversation piece for movie fans and has plenty of evidence for debate lol

      3. But I can’t say a bad word against Skyfall because it probably is the best Bond film since Goldfinger

      4. I could talk Bond all day as well. I’m a fan overall. My expectations may have been too high going into “Spectre.” I actually try to avoid going in with expectations (high or low), but sometimes it’s unavoidable. The hype just gets overwhelming.

        It’s a pleasure to read your material. Keep up the great work!

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