007 Things That Make No Sense In Spectre

[WARNING: This feature contains major spoilers for Spectre, if you haven’t seen it look away now]

As our stomachs grumble from the considerable strain of digesting the gargantuan latest installment in the Bond franchise, let’s in-Spectre some of the more questionable moments…

1. The torture chair

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Not only is the science highly debatable behind this apparatus of death (drilling into your neck can wipe your memory of faces?) but our super villain seems particularly bad at using it, Bond escaping with only mild discomfort and all his faculties seemingly in order. It’s nothing when compared to Le Chifre’s chair and rope technique…no, don’t even think about it…

2. Mr. Hinx’s (Dave Bautista) metal thumbs

Mr-Hinx

Introduced as a razor-sharp and murderous USP and secret weapon, a la Jaws and Odd Job, but then never used or mentioned again after his introductory scene, rendering them entirely pointless…

3. Why it doesn’t end when the evil baddie’s lair blows up

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It should. Despite Bond saying, ‘this isn’t over yet’, maybe it should have been. Had they focused on this as the big finale, rather than stretching it out to a second somewhat weaker one, then the resolution might not have felt so unoriginal and we would have gladly been set up for the next film.

4. Mr White’s hidden room at the L’Americain

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How did he ever plan to access all the useful things he’d hidden inside his secret little room? Smash through the wall like Bond does? Looking at the state he was in, it seems unlikely. Also, if Spectre are all they’re cranked up to be then surely they would have known about everything he did, including his sentimental marriage anniversary at the same location every year…?

5. Bond and Madeleine Swann’s relationship

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Short of being a direct replica of his relationship with Vesper Lynd, which is referenced throughout the movie (just look at the Vesper scene on the train from Casino Royale), it seems Bond is over Lynd and ready to put another woman in danger and, along with her, his own heart. Again. Not to mention his endless womanising. Chances are we won’t see Swann in the next Bond film…

6. Blofeld himself

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The only thing close to being criminally masterminded about the ‘mysterious’ Blofeld was the filmmakers robbing their audience of what coulda-shoulda-woulda been the best Bond baddie performance of all time. What was his motivation? Daddy issues? Jealousy? Revenge? All because Bond apparently spent a few months with his family? Hardly the inner machinations of an evil overlord. Why was he used so little and so late in the film? And where was his plan for world domination? Too many questions.

7. The meteorite

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Sorry, just, what?!

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Warriors – a review

Can't be out first ball, right?

Can’t be out first ball, right?

On the surface an interesting documentary about remote Maasai warriors forming a local cricket team in Kenya, Warriors quickly proves itself to be much more.

This band of young men have come together from different tribes from all over the Maasai territories to form a cricket team. They play in their traditional Maasai attire. That could be the story right there but, as with everything, there’s more beneath the surface.

We learn that the Maasai are one of the more traditional cultures in Africa and that a part of that culture is the circumcision and marriage of females at a young age, often as early as nine-years-old. The next generation, the warriors, are against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and arranged marriages, both of which can contribute to HIV/AIDS.

These young Maasai Cricket Warriors, as they call themselves, are smart, articulate and driven by the good aspects of their culture – in which they repeatedly show their pride by donning traditional dress to play the game they love – to make a change in the bad practices, as they see it, and to bring about a new mentality where FGM is eradicated from their community.

The game of cricket really serves as their vehicle; knowing that the attention from the media, both within the cricketing community and the wider world, but, most especially, from their own elders will give them a platform from which to communicate their message. The achievement of sport to transcend international borders and cultural barriers is paramount in Barney Douglas’ intimate film, proving its power as an universal language able to bring people together. In this case, ultimately, allowing the Maasai Cricket Warriors to fly to England to take part in an international cricket tournament at the home of cricket itself, Lords, and amplify the voice of their cause.

Warriors balances its incredibly tough subject matter with a story of aspiration and courage, delivered in a very well formed package, capturing the culture of the Maasai people from both the old and young perspectives as well as the natural grandeur of their land. Despite the serious and challenging message, it’s quite a delightful and heart-warming tale of the inspirational power of the human spirit.

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Spectre – a review

Matalan Man

Matalan Man

Since Sam Mendes set the bar precariously high in 2012, with the hugely popular and profitable Skyfall, the next installment was always going to have incredible hype around its release with audience expectations peaked and breath bated as to whether such soaring success could be achieved again. The jury is still out.

Spectre is incredibly hard to digest on one viewing alone. Unlike it’s younger brother, Skyfall, which was contained to the point of perfection – bringing in some Bond tropes and timely nods to the backlog of 007 memories, remaining complete whilst being part of something else far larger and still maintaining big blockbuster status – Spectre is just vast. If a normal movie is divided into three acts then this one is divided into three films. At one point, after a huge set piece and what would conventionally be the finale of any other film, and possibly should have been of this one, Bond even says, ‘this isn’t over yet’ as if he’s actually encouraging the audience to stay with him through the next hour. That sequence is stunning, the opening sequence is a genuine cinematic moment and the finale is…well, to put it politely, underwhelming. Why?

There are definite questions hovering over the holes in the characters of our villains here, like smoke from the barrel of a gun. Christoph Waltz, surely one of the all-time Bond baddies, right? Hmmm. Javier Bardem, not as elevated as Waltz’s character, in terms of plot, certainly seemed to walk closer to the well-trodden path of Bond’s previous adversaries. Maybe in time Waltz’s significance will be borne out but for now he seems a most confused nemesis. A nice line in the I’ve-captured-you-so-I’ll-tell-you-everything-and-give-you-time-to-escape scene harks back to one of the most famous Bond villain lines of all and is a particular highlight within the multitudinous self-referential homages yet does nothing to lift the shroud of ambiguity hanging over Waltz’s character. In a most bizarre twist, which is somewhat over developed and subsequently under used, the narrative deviates drastically from the established canon, opening a very large door to an even larger room only to reveal not very much inside.

Andrew Scott‘s ‘C’ is just an enigma. His motivation removed by a script that simply didn’t allow any time for us to find out who he was, what he was about or why he was trying to do, well, anything. There is light at the end of the tunnel, in the hulking form of Dave Batista, who provides some of the best adversarial moments as he faces off against 007.

Luckily we have our boys and girls from Her Majesty’s Secret Service and leading the way, obviously, is Daniel Craig in his fourth outing as Britain’s best. or, depending who you listen to within MI6, worst, secret agent. Craig has got to the point where he is this generation’s Bond and, for some, the ultimate incarnation of Ian Fleming’s super spy. At the very least, and discounting his apparent apathy at playing one of cinema’s most iconic characters, he has reinvigorated a franchise with credibility and enough grizzled grit (our Bond can smash through walls with his bare hands) so that the we can grow old, and our kids grow up, on some substantial British movie making.

Ralph Fiennes proves his worth as ‘M’, Dame Judi Dench‘s shadow long since blown away by the radiant sunshine of his Mallory. He steps it up a gear this time around and shows his importance as a central cog, already not afraid to get his hands dirty, here he pretty much does Bond’s job for him whilst our James is predictably off chasing after some girl. And here we return to a proper archetype Bond girl. Léa Seydoux is beautiful and deadly but she also brings something to the story and to 007’s cause. Although the references to Vesper Lynd throughout do nothing to shake the feeling that we’ve seen this all before.

Ben Whishaw has thoroughly perfected his bespectacled, somewhat socially uneasy ‘Q’, to the point where you could see him inhabiting the role akin to the late, great Desmond Llewelyn. Naomie Harris is less used but that’s quite alright, as she doesn’t offer an abundance of appeal as Moneypenny.

It’s ambitious, silly in places, utterly gargantuan as a movie-going experience and definitely warrants a second viewing. Although that might reveal some of the deeper inadequacies then it would certainly allow you to enjoy the hugely entertaining full-circle moment of this Daniel Craig James Bond renaissance.

Does it feel like an ultimate homage to his four films as Bond and a possible fitting farewell; setting up the next inhabitant of the synonymous white tux, martini breath and licence to kill? Quite possibly. But is it also a fine balancing act between huge spectacle and historical respect for what is a worldwide and revered brand? Definitely yes. And enjoyably so as Mendes and Co. carve out a visually rich, high-octane ride that uses this already robustly rebuilt character of our modern Bond and pushes him through a towering and sprawling adventure to get the bad guys and make things right.

Spectre may mark the end of something but, then again, all good things come to an end, so why not go and enjoy it.

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