Movie Review: Spectre

Sadly, Not The Bond We Were Hoping For

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
I had only been sitting for two minutes in the screening of the twenty-fourth installment of the James Bond franchise, Spectre, before I met a fanatic. Sporting a James Bond 40th Anniversary Omega Seamaster ("number 007 of only 1007 made", he told me, beaming with pride), he boasted of his travels to the Furka Pass in Switzerland, to visit the location of the Goldfinger car chase, and of his Silver Birch Aston Martin DB5, the same car Sean Connery piloted around those treacherous roads just over fifty years ago. He bought it a while back for $125,000, and foolishly sold it a few years later for $160,000 (a mint 1965 DB5 will easily fetch over $1 million at auction today).

The discussion of his Aston Martins continued, including his current Vantage and DB9, until the theatre started to fill up and the lights went down. This kind of automobile and movie culture is unique to Bond. 007 may have his signature drink, "shaken, not stirred," but just as famous are his cars, which, for a great number of films, are Aston Martins. This started fifty years ago, in the aforementioned Connery flick, Goldfinger, and the tradition has continued in Spectre, with a bespoke two-door coupé fittingly tagged the DB10. This latest Bond car is more concept than production. Built around the current V8 Vantage VH platform, the DB10's handsome styling is a look into the future for the British manufacturer.

Perhaps outshining Bond's chariot are the cars of the villainous organization after which the movie is named, a highlight being the beautiful the Jaguar C-X75, driven by the eye-gouging villain, Hinx (Dave Bautista). The Jag is introduced when Bond infiltrates a Spectre meeting. His attendance doesn't go unnoticed, leading to a C-X75 vs DB10 race around Rome's midnight streets. Those who are going to see Spectre for the great car cinematography, prepare to be disappointed. The scene ends early on when – spoiler alert – 007 dumps the DB10 in the bottom of a river.

Spectre is the longest of the 24-film canon, and due to an overstuffed second act, it feels like it. The first hour is fantastic, revealing enough of Bond's backstory to get the audience hooked, but somewhere in the second act we lose our way, torn between two predictable story lines. One involves Bond chasing after a villain by the name of Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz, and the other, in which M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Wishaw), and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are fighting an Orwellian, 1984-style surveillance program known as C.

We first see our familiar hero on the busy streets of Mexico City during the Day of the Dead festival. While the opening tracking shot is enough to conjure up thoughts of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil, it also seems quite similar to the opening of Quantum of Solace, a Bond chapter I'd rather forget.

The similarities don't end there. Once again, Bond is at odds with his employer, going on missions and taking down targets without authorization, and trying to get off the grid. Spectre, more than any of the Craig films, feels like it's back to what Bond used to be. But where Connery and Moore shined with their wit, Craig has always been the cold-hearted, blunt assassin, and when shoved into this new persona, it seems forced.

Director Sam Mendes has confirmed that Spectre will be his final film, but with one Bond performance still in his contract, Craig has yet to make up his mind. He may only be 47 years young, but his Bond feels worn out and tired. But with a film like the one moviegoers are flocking to now, I wouldn't blame him for giving it one more go, to try and end on a high note.

By the sheer count of matching shawl-collared tuxedos in the audience, it was obvious that there was more than one Bond fanatic in the theatre to see 007 do his thing. In fact, as you'll see in the vides below, parked right out front of the theatre was both a BMW Z8, the car that gets sawed in half in The World is Not Enough, and a diesel Land Rover Defender 110, halfway through restoration. Neither of these vehicles is the iconic Aston Martin DB5, but then again, Spectre wasn't the iconic film I had hoped for either.

BMW Z8 Alpina | Autoblog Short Cuts

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