All good things come to an end and nothing lasts forever…except diamonds of course.
Whether or not Spectre is the end of the Daniel Craig era proper, the spirit of change that Craig’s run as 007 has certainly passed. That much is made obvious by even a casual fan of the Bond franchise and/or someone who has seen all four films in Craig’s reign (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre).
The name of the film was in advance, a not so subtle signal to the return of the franchise’s glory days.
From Dave Batista’s character being a nod to Jaws, to the full fledged return of the Spectre organization, and its leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Whereas Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace forcefully took the franchise in a bold new direction, Spectre is a return to the classic Bond archetype better and for worse.
The prior Craig films would often give a twist and a tip of the cap to prior Bond iconography. Even at times seeming to poke fun at some of the archetypes the franchise created and leaned heavily upon over the course of the last half century. Spectre at times seemed like a parody of the franchise made by the franchise to set up the future of the franchise.
Both Bond girls become stereotypical Bond girls and do so rather quickly. Bond’s car and gadget(s) are presented in flippant manners. The reveal of Christopher Waltz’s character as Blofeld is done in a setting/location that is a composite of the most stereotypical Bond villain hideouts and locales.
One must wonder why they ever diverted the franchise off course if to only bring it right back on it after less than a handful of films. I liked the new direction the Craig films took. But Skyfall was more of a traditional Bond film, so there were really only two films that upended the franchise to chart a new modern course in the modern era of major motion pictures.
Die Another Day although not as bad as some remember, certainly jumped the shark with virtually every aspect of the Bond franchise. A reboot to some degree was warranted after the invisible car chase. But to come full circle and go right back to tongue and cheeky within ten years and four films of the gritty, edgy, more realistic 007 seems trite at best and lazy at worst.
I’m all about a return to the roots. Bring on the lazers, jetpacks, and sexual innuendo named women. Why not make the next film a tip of the cap to the Austin Powers? At times, that’s what Spectre felt like.
I never cared that the franchise was being upended and made grittier when the Craig era started. I cared that the money making franchise started making quality, stand alone, artistic films again. The previous films (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall) had cinematography that rivaled any other film that came out that year. The mise en scené of almost every frame was great filmmaking. A quest to make art seemed to replace the thirst to make more money.
Spectre was indeed a return to the classic Bond archetype. For better and for worse.
Those classic Bond movies were made for popcorn entertainment and for making money. Perhaps the gears of the money making machine that is modern motion picture making finally chewed up and spit out the artistic spirit of the franchises’ modern era. Perhaps that has something to do with director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig both vehemently stating they don’t want to return to the franchise.
Perhaps what is old is simply new again.
If that is the case, where can I place a substantial monetary bet that the title of the next Bond film will have the word Gold somewhere in it?