Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


SPECTRE (2015). Director: Sam Mendes.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) seems to have two adversaries in this outing. One is Ernst Stavros Blofield (Christoph Waltz of Inglorious Basterds [sic]), who is running the organization, SPECTRE, a group that links together previous villains and deaths in 007's sphere. The other is Max Denbigh or "C" (Andrew Scott), the head of the Center of National Security, who thinks M (Ralph Fiennes of Wrath of the Titans) and his methods are hopelessly out of date. M sends Bond out on an assignment that has him infiltrating a SPECTRE meeting, one of the best and most suspenseful scenes in the movie. Other characters include Marco Sciarra (Allesandro Cremona), who engages Bond in Mexico City, and the Bond women include Lucia (Monica Bellucci), the widow of an infamous criminal, and Dr. Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), the daughter of another criminal named White (Jesper Christensen), who may have secret knowledge of SPECTRE. Craig is terrific as Bond, Waltz makes an effective Blofeld, and the other actors are good, including nice turns by Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Ben Whishaw as "Q." The cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema is excellent, and there's a good score by Thomas Newman, although the title tune is all but ruined by the dreadful "singing" of Sam Smith. A train fight doesn't compare to the one in From Russia with Love.

Verdict: Sinister, but not as thrilling as it ought to be, although it's not a bad 007 entry. ***.


Neil A Russell said...

I've often heard that you relate best to the James Bond you grew up with and I guess for me that's true since I still identify the character with Connery.
For some reason I can't take Daniel Craig seriously in the role.
Personally I'd like to have seen Peter Sellers take on Orson Welles in a full length Bond film rather than just the few minutes in the disjointed "Casino Royale".

William said...

I assume you mean a Bond parody with Sellers and Welles -- I can't see Sellers as a "real" Bond, although maybe he wasn't so bad in that movie.

I, too, grew up with Connery, but somehow I like some of the others, including Lazenby, Dalton, and now, Craig. Roger Moore was fun but I don't think I ever took him seriously as Bond. And I forget that other one -- Brosnan. He was okay.

So maybe Sellers would have been good after all?

Neil A Russell said...

I think Sellers could handle any role put in front of him, and too the Connery Bond films were as much tongue in cheek as anything.
It's a little late for it to happen, but that casino scene in "Royale" showed both actors, Sellers and Welles, with an interesting chemistry. Maybe I'm reading too much into it!

If I had my preference, and with the computer tech for movies becoming what it is maybe it could happen yet, I'd like to have seen Cary Grant as Bond. No one could pull off suave like he could and you'd expect the snarky comments from him as well.
Closest he came was "North by Northwest" which now I may tinker around with and add some John Barry music to a few scenes just to see.

Don't take my casting choices too seriously, I've always thought that Walter Matthau would have made a great Harry Callahan!

William said...

Matthau as Dirty Harry -- now that's an interesting casting choice!

My only problem with Cary Grant as Bond is that, unlike Connery, he lacks the inherent viciousness of the character. Of course, one could argue that Roger Moore wasn't especially vicious, either. I think Craig and Lazenby had that certain vicious streak, and to a lesser extent Dalton and Brosnan.

Certainly an interesting idea, of course, and now that I think about it ...

Will have to watch the wonderful "North By Northwest" again soon.

Neil A Russell said...

Just saw that it's Roger Moore's birthday today, he's 89. How did that happen? I'm not any older am I?
I got the feeling Matthau could carry the Dirty Harry role was seeing him in "Laughing Policeman" and "Charley Varrick".
Just picture him in that famous scene and in that voice of his saying "Do you feel lucky? Well do you...punk?"

William said...

You've got a point! I forget Matthau did play detectives more than once.

Roger Moore 89 -- how time flies!