A few spoilery thoughts on SPECTRE.
Perhaps because our expectations were tempered by the very mixed reactions of others, Margaux and I quite enjoyed the film. I can certainly see how its pace — very deliberate compared to most recent Bond films — would be off-putting to some, and the logic of the investigation doesn’t bear too much thinking about. (Why does Mr Hinx try to kill Bond on the train if Blofeld is expecting him at Spectre HQ anyway? For that matter, what the hell was that handwaving about satellite tracking that led Bond and Swan to the HQ in the first place?)
But there were plenty of joys. SPECTRE ranks, with SKYFALL, among the most visually beautiful of the Bond films. The action scenes are sharp and clear. The fight on the train is brutal, visceral, and nice tribute to the Connery-Shaw brawl in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. The Secret Base (TM) was suitably fragile. (Bond villains REALLY need to get their HQs up to code.) It’s been fun to see the continuity in the Craig films, each film building on the other in a way never seen before in the series. (Though I couldn’t help but notice that when the gallery of the dead appears at the climax, there are no faces from QUANTUM OF SOLACE — a backhand to the relative weakness of that entry?) Blofeld’s cat. The scar. Even some real-world relevance with the surveillance plot. And though it is true Monica Bellucci has little to do in the film, she SURVIVES, which makes her almost unique among Act 1 Bond Girls (and I have to say was a relief after the ill-judged William Tell scene in SKYFALL). The portrayals of women in the film are what they are, but they aren’t the worst in the franchise, at least.
Margaux commented that she felt like she’d been on a journey with Bond, and I agree, in both the literal and metaphorical sense. The leisurely pace, for me, gave the various locations a bit more weight. They seemed a bit less like postcards.
One thing I’m still puzzling over: having a hotel called “L’Americain” in Morocco feels like a CASABLANCA reference, only I’m not sure what to do with that.
Finally, it’s worth nothing this is Craig’s fourth film. Consider the fourth entries for other Bonds:
– Connery – THUNDERBALL (bloat sets in, with those endless underwater scenes)
– Moore – MOONRAKER (’nuff said)
Dalton Brosnan [what the hell was I thinking?] – DIE ANOTHER DAY (ahem)
In this regard, I think SPECTRE does pretty well.