“Spectre” is also the Bond movie that has the misfortune of coming after “Skyfall,” which is arguably the best Bond film of all time — and the only reason I say “arguably” is that if I didn’t I would be having an argument with my Team “Goldfinger” husband.
“Skyfall” brilliantly examined and commented on the things that make a Bond film a Bond film, including the things that make them problematic at times. “Spectre” tries to do the same thing, but instead of dealing with Bond the movie genre, it (somewhat less successfully) aims its Walther PPK at Bond the man.
It’s traditional to think of Bond as a spy, but — as “Spectre” makes clear — 007 is an assassin. Spies’ primary weapon is information; Bond’s primary weapon is weapons. “Spectre” is the first Bond film to really take a look at what that means; one huge step for the series is that characters here actually acknowledge that Bond’s actions occasionally result in collateral damage. Moreover, there are times in “Spectre” when Bond refrains from violence — at one point he barks “No! Stay!” at a security guard who’s thwarting his mission but is still technically an innocent. It’s rare to see Bond, in the elementary school parlance, use his words.
That doesn’t mean Bond is wimping out, but he does seem to be getting tired not only of killing bad guys, but also of losing good guys (and girls; is there a job title that comes with less security than “James Bond’s girlfriend?” Even if you survive, his turnover rate is awfully high.). Daniel Craig’s Bond has always been a bit more world-weary than all the others, and “Spectre” starts showing us why: He’s beginning to see how the blood on his hands stains everything he touches.
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