As a guest reviewer, it’s never good to give a movie four stars. You risk looking like a fan rather than an objective reviewer – but I don’t care.
Up front, I think this Bond film deserves four stars. But with 007 offerings, are stars really appropriate? I’ve always viewed these films using a different metric, one that my father and I created after seeing the movie “Casino Royale” while I was still in high school.
Every entry in the 007 series needs to impress in four key categories to rank as a proper Bond film. They need 1) a compelling, handsome, enviable Bond, 2) a beautiful, engaging, titillating Babe, 3) fantastic special effect Booms, and 4) an incorrigible, evil, mastermind of a Baddy.
More experienced critics may get on high horses about screenplay, the formulaic construction of the Bond films, nuances in character development, etc., but I believe that if a Bond movie aces the four B’s, it’s worth seeing and will please audiences who know what to expect from this well-established franchise.
Let’s review “Spectre” by looking at each of the four B’s individually:
Bond: Off screen, Daniel Craig may complain about his work as 007, but on screen he’s great in the series’ title role. A more believable killer than Pierce Brosnan, he brings just the right amount of grit to mix (shaken, not stirred) with a suave, well-mannered exterior, combining to make him one of my favorite Bonds. In the few moments where he’s asked to show more depth than brawn, he performs admirably, portraying the emotional turmoil that can result from Bond’s dangerous occupation.
Babe: French actress Léa Seydoux is predictably gorgeous, joining an elite list that have played the femme fatale alongside Bond. Thankfully, the franchise has done away with tacky names like “Pussy Galore” and given this talented actress a more challenging role that Seydoux handles deftly.
Booms: Special effects have come a long way from the cheesy spectacles that characterized some of Hollywood’s older offerings, with CGI dominating most of today’s box office hits. The “booms” in this film are great because most of them are real – there was a focus on practical effects, and the end result justifies the expense. Actual explosions are certainly more exhilarating and satisfying than watching something that’s clearly been produced electronically.
Baddy: Christoph Waltz plays the film’s bad guy, leader of the shadowy terrorist organization Spectre. The mark of a well-played Bond villain is the level of harm that members of the audience wish to inflict on him as they watch him torment our hero, and Waltz had me wanting blood. Unlike some of the franchise’s past one-dimensional villains, he was compellingly evil.
So is the film worth seeing? It depends. You’ve got to know what you’re getting into when approaching a Bond movie.
This film won’t shock you to your core; despite clever twists and turns, it’s still part of a formula that has proven very successful over the years. It won’t be an Oscar contender, and it’s not going to have an innovative and intellectual screenplay.
It’s all about a well-dressed protagonist shooting things, driving fast cars, enjoying the company of beautiful women, causing explosions, and going toe-to-toe against subversive forces of evil.And in that capacity, it’s great.
Four stars for “Spectre”: predictable, but thoroughly enjoyable.