Saturday, February 6, 2016

Film Review: Spectre (2015)

Copyright: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Everyone seems to be impressed by the fact that Dark Star is David Bowie’s eulogy, but Spectre offered people a lot less usual content on its farewell to the Daniel Craig’s James Bond. In it, Sam Mendes apparently decided to end his 007 run not with a bang, but with a very impressive whimper. This time, the plot does not include testicle-beating, M-stabbing villains, but an organization that encompasses them all.

The same organization is run by a mysterious figure that apparently, died many decades before and now wants to see the world burn not through a single grandiose deed, but through the human savagery and gradual exploitation of the range and anger that is already in all of us.

Mendes is a master of an elegant cinematic eye which could have worked equally well 50 years ago as it does today. Steering clear of any and (almost) all modern tricks, the director of Spectre uses his natural ability to set up a shot in a menacing way, where the protagonist is almost surrounded by other things in it, both human and inanimate.

This silky smooth trick is applied several times, but most effectively on the site of a burial in an ancient cemetery in Rome, where the use of white and gray pylons goes brilliantly with mourners wearing black. As they slide away from the scene, Mendes demonstrates his uncanny talent where the narrative is spoken and presented by the environment itself almost more than the actors and their lines – remember the Scottish moors in Skyfall?

At the same time, this scene, like many others, focuses on the notion of things passing away and stopping to exist, while latently, it also provides a counterpoint by showing how this passing, no matter how tragic or undesirable, will not stop the world from spinning.

As Bond fights and investigates his way to the heart of Specter, Daniel Craig is on board with Mendes’ last goodbye to the series. He, like his character, presents a determined but shallow man who knows it has all ended a long time ago and now he is simply fighting for remembrance and their legacy, nothing more. Even when he sees his name written in paint onto the memorial placket of the old MI6 HQ, Bond simply recognizes the word but does not react. The character and Craig both recognize that their time has passed and they are fine with that.

While I watched the film with its regular location A, location B, location C setup of the plot, I was surprised that the film is so toned down. But, just like Christoph Waltz, there is no need for extravaganza when you have that deep-rooted quality about you, presented in all the things you do no. Like Sicario, another recent and impressive action film, it is very cool about being cool. I’m certain that many of those who enjoyed Quantum of Solace will not like this film, but they shouldn’t go hard on it: after all, Spectre is a kind of a funeral.

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