As the first notes of the James Bond Theme started to sound in the very first minutes of the movie, I knew what was coming. A friend, seated on the lower row of the theatre, looked at me and -eyes wide open- smiled, because she knew that moment was the moment for me. SPOILERS AHEAD.
I'll write this review not as the editor of this site, or as a Bond expert, or as a journalism student. I'll choose first person because every Bond release is for me a tradition as Christmas Day, and every 007 movie released is usually attached to a personal moment in my life, either my childhood during the Pierce Brosnan days or high school during Daniel Craig's two first Bond outings.
I became a James Bond fan shortly after playing the 1997 videogame version of GOLDENEYE and watching the film on TV, amazed at that iconic gunbarrel sequence where agent 007 walked from one side to the other and shot to the audience, as the iris revealed the first frame of the actual movie. 20 years later (17, actually, since I watched it in 1998) I was sitting on the theatre, and I guess my friend gave me that look because that moment I was talking about was the gunbarrel sequence, the sugar rush moment for any Bond enthusiast: the white dots, Bond walking, shooting and the blood dripping down. That moment only was worth the admission ticket for me, particularly after the classic sequence was altered during this new era, disappointingly left for the end of the film.
SPECTRE sees the fourth appaerance of Daniel Craig as James Bond, the second Bond film helmed by Sam Mendes and the return of the new MI6 team defined in SKYFALL: Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny. Lasting 140 dinamic minutes that aren't half boring, the 24th film in the EON Productions' series is addictive and absolutely thrilling: the perfect mixture of the old Bond from the 1960s and the 2006 reboot with CASINO ROYALE, directed by Martin Campbell.
As Bond bursts into action by killing an Italian assasin on a rogue assignament in Mexico City during the beautifully shot "Day of the Dead" parade, there's already a touching connection with my favourite Bond film GOLDENEYE as 007 levels off a falling helicopter, in the same way twenty years ago Pierce Brosnan did during that mission in the USSR. Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall" song beautifully sounds as octopus tentacles wrap around the silohuette of Bond and a girl, showing reflections of the previous three adventures and we then go to the main story: Bond -under posthumal orders from Judi Dench's M- follows the lead of Lucia (Monica Bellucci), the assasins' widow in Rome, who leads him to a mysterious organization: SPECTRE, lead by Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), who is no other that the envious foster brother 007 had during his childhood.
The film isn't perfect: some scenes look like a waste of time (too many unnecesary participation of Andrew Scott's C, the mysterious new MI5 leader), the connection between SPECTRE and the previous three villains (Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene and Raoul Silva) isn't deep enough or satisfactorily explained, and Thomas Newman's soundtrack -even when it works- is way too repetitive of SKYFALL. The relationship between Bond and the leading lady Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) should have been deeper: the romantic dinner is beautifuly shot, but lacks the depth of Natalya's exploration of Bond's profession at the Cuban beach or Vesper's warming to the "cold hearted bastard" in the two entries Martin Campbell provided to the series.
Nevertheless, SPECTRE provides the necessary quota of action, humor and brutality James Bond needs. Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography is sharp and clever while Jany Temime takes her time to provide Bond and his girls beautiful clothing, as the great welcome back for the white tuxedo for Daniel Craig, red carnation included as Sean Connery immortalized in GOLDFINGER.
Cristoph Waltz is brillant as the mastermind in control of SPECTRE, whose real identity is revealed to Bond in a very clever and iconic way, and the organization that toppled missles and inagurated wars in the 1960s now deals with the things we are always afraid now: human trafficking, virus proliferation and counterfeit medications, not achieving their goals by public extorsion, but by infiltrating the intelligence services of the nations.
I felt very happy after all the screenings of the movie, that hasn't bored me one bit and found totally addictive. And even when I won't go deeper into my personal life, there is one of my viewings that will remain forever in my heart, for the simplicity of the moment and for the beautiful and sweet woman that joined me in that moment: always supporting, enjoying and encouraging my Bondmanship and caring for me. I'm afraid I won't say anything else, but the circumstances surrounding one of the five SPECTRE screenings I attended touched me emotionally as much as the days when my dad took me to watch TOMORROW NEVER DIES and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH to the theatre.
Just as the kid in me met the adult I am now in that moment, SPECTRE is the perfect combination between the classic Bond and the reboot Bond, many steps ahead of what we've seen in SKYFALL. It is uncertain if Daniel Craig will retire after this one -as suggested by the very last moments of the movie- but if he does, he'll retire with a very good one!