Posted on November 5, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and languag
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Spy-style action violence with chases, shootouts, and explosions, characters injured and killed, torture, suicide
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: November 6, 2015
Date Released to DVD: February 8, 2016
Amazon.com ASIN: B018WXLFSM

Copyright MGM 2015
Copyright MGM 2015
I thought “Skyfall” was the best Bond film ever, from the Adele theme song to the storyline that literally brought Bond (Daniel Craig) home. “Spectre” picks up where “Skyfall” left off, M (Dame Judi Dench) dead, the headquarters destroyed, the future of the double-O program in jeopardy. If this chapter, reportedly Craig’s last as Bond, is not up to the “Skyfall” level, it is still a solid entry in this series, more than half a century since the elegantly attired agent with a license to kill first appeared on screen.

The opening scene is brilliantly staged by returning director Sam Mendes. It takes place in Mexico City, in the midst of the Day of the Dead celebration and parade. Skeletons and signifiers of mortality are everywhere. An masked man with a man bun (so he must be a bad guy) passes by. Another masked man seems to be paying attention only to the beautiful woman he is escorting, but we can tell by the elegantly tailored suit that this must be Bond and therefore he is paying attention to everything. Sure enough soon he is spying, shooting, and chasing in one bravura shot that takes him through the crowd and the parade and into a fight inside a swooping helicopter.

Great beginning! And then we go into the credit sequence, which is pretentious and silly, with a sub-par song from Sam Smith. Ah, well.

It continues along those lines, with some set pieces that are exactly what we want from a Bond film, but other elements that show the uneasy bridge the Broccoli family, which controls the franchise, is trying to develop between the late 20th century Bond (Grace Jones! Space! Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist named Christmas! Infomercial level product placement!) and the grittier, more down-to-earth geopolitics of the 21st century, whether on screen (the Bourne series) or in the news (9/11). The film raises the question both in its storyline and in its presentation about whether the era of the shaken-not-stirred martini drinker who never carries a suitcase but always seems to have a dinner jacket on hand is over.

The dinner jacket, the beautiful women who find Bond irresistible, the martini, the cool car, the exotic locations, and the guns and gadgets are all there. A nice twist is that the car was designed for another agent, so Bond has no idea what the various buttons do. And the new gadget actually assigned to him is below the technology level of Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone. The gadgets that matter here are lines of code, and in this movie they serve as the MacGuffin as well. All of that works, though there were some snickers in the crowd during a brief pause in the action where Bond and the new Bond Girl (Lea Seydoux) get all dressed up for dinner on a train. The cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema finds a nice consistency through all of the globe-hopping ports of call, with lots of white space around our increasingly isolated hero. Craig, as he has done in all of his Bond films, gives a performance of depth as well as charm. He faces some choices with moral complexity, especially when he meets with a former adversary, and it is intriguing to see how he thinks them through. The somber tone is Bourne-ish, but the storyline teeters too close to recent stories like the last “Mission Impossible” and even “Captain America: Winter Soldier.” The final resolution exemplifies what is best and worst about the film, taking the “Skyfall” revelations about his past further, but going completely overboard with a brilliant villainous strategist who puts way too much time into an elaborate trap. And an otherwise sensible Bond girl who picks a very bad moment to discuss the relationship.

“Bond will return,” we are reassured once again at the end of the film. And by then we’re already looking forward to the next reboot.

Parents should know that this film has extended and graphic scenes of action-style spy violence with many crashes, explosions, chases and shootouts. There is a suicide and and some torture, with characters injured and killed, as well as some strong language, some sexual references and situations, and alcohol.

Family discussion: Who should decide what information is available to government agencies? How did childhood trauma affect three of the main characters?

If you like this, try: “Skyfall” and some of the Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan Bond films

Related Tags:


Action/Adventure DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Series/Sequel Spies

4 Replies to “Spectre”

  1. “I thought “Skyfall” was the best Bond film ever.”

    Casino Royale sends its regards.

    “If this chapter, reportedly Craig’s last as Bond.”

    It’s not. The fact that Craig isn’t out yet has been reported several times over the last few days.

    1. Hi, Alex! Glad to hear from a fan of CR, which I thought dragged in the casino scenes and did not have a great villain. I liked Eva Green, though. And we’ll see about Craig. In his interviews, he seems to be done.

      1. Yes, he has openly expressed he’s tired of the role, but his contract still has one more film in it.

Comments are closed.

THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik