The scene also features a throbbing, hypnotic beat mixed in with classic Bond themes. In fact, the musical score (with one glaring exception) ends up being one of the most enjoyable things in a movie that manages to piece together an exciting and (mostly) well executed film.
Daniel Craig, in his now fourth outing as James Bond, continues to age well into the role. The Bond of Spectre is no longer the broken man that needed to find his way again in 2012's Skyfall, but someone who's grown more relaxed and carefree. Craig is given the chance to push a little more charisma and has some amusing one liners that call back to the much simpler Brosnan era without going too far from what has already been established (or y'know just plain silly). Which isn't to say there isn't still a strong undercurrent of the ruthless resourcefulness Craig's portrayal has always shown. If this does end up being the last Bond outing for Craig (which may or may not be), the performance at least will wrap up on a high note.
Also returning to Spectre is Ralph Fienne's newly minted M, Ben Whishaw's Q, and Naomie Harris' Moneypenny. All work admirably and manage to hold their own as plot worthy additions to the story. One can only hope that if Bond does get replaced in the next film, we can at least keep these guys for a little longer.
The new love interest, played by Lea Seydoux, manages to hold her own without being overly vulnerable but unfortunately ends up being one of the most bland Bond girls of the Craig era. Most of the problems can likely be blamed on the chemistry not quite being there and that her character just isn't given much to work with.
Good movie and all guys, but could we just retcon in Skyfall as the theme song again?
Little can be said about a Bond movie without mentioning the villains and Spectre has no lack of them here. It could be argued that Christoph Waltz has been destined to be a Bond villain ever since his nuanced (and amazing) portrayal as Hans Landa in 2009's Inglorious Basterds and he ends up being a well-suited (if not quite earned) main antagonist for Spectre.
Also returning is the mysterious Mr. White, who was last seen in 2008's Quantum of Solace. While he still continues his presence as a glorified cameo, Jesper Christensen's portrayal as Mr. White continues to hold the perfect balance of feeling like you know just enough, while only really scratching the top of the iceberg.
Rounding out the villains is the inclusion of an impressively bearded Dave Bautista who manages to carry strong vibes of the Jaws character's menace (from the Roger Moore era) sans the silliness. Perhaps wisely, Bautista's size and simple screen presence is used in lieu of any speaking lines. This is very likely due to his ongoing struggle with gaps in acting experience, which was beautifully covered by clever writing in last years Guardians of the Galaxy. In any event, Bautista's not unwelcome and his well handled presence in Spectre suggests he still has a future place in film.
While the overall story and plot manage to coalesce into a good film, it is not without issues. Some minor pacing concerns aside, the inclusion of some major retcons that affect the previous Craig films don't quite feel like they've been earned. Luckily, Spectre does manage to pull out of too little, too late territory by films end. That being said, one almost wonders if Spectre almost would have been better suited as a two-part film. Or, considering that the previous last half of a "two-part" Bond outing (which is arguably the weakest of the Craig-era films) already tried this method, the retcons should have been something that were planned to be part of the overall arc since 2006's Casino Royale.
Sadly, the only noticeable eyesore in the entire film ends up being the iconic musical intro that's long been a staple of every Bond film. "Writing's On the Wall", performed by Sam Smith, is one of the most formulaic and dull sounding Bond theme's of the entire Craig (and maybe even Brosnan!) era catalog. It doesn't help that the theme is set to the rather boring visuals of an intro that really make you miss the snappy openings of the previous three.
Ultimately, Spectre manages to come together as a well constructed film that will serve its purpose as a proper Craig send-off if it does indeed end up being his final outing as Bond.
The Rundown: Craig Era Rankings
1. Casino Royale
2. Skyfall & Spectre (tied)
3. Quantum of Solace
4. Writing's on the Wall
Note: Yes, it has been yet another long hiatus my friends. I welcome you back to Foss' Flicks and look forward to talking to you about movies again very soon!