Review Detail

9.3 6 10
FanFix August 09, 2019 2648
(Updated: April 11, 2020)
Overall rating
 
9.1
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Say what you will about Spectre – Lord knows I have, in places other than this – the real question is this: How does Last Survivor’s cut compare to the original?

The differences are immediate, in fact. The pre-titles sequence skips some of the uninterrupted single take and gets to the action faster; the titles song focuses on the mystique surrounding 007, rather than the epic romance song that Sam Smith wrote for a decidedly non-epic romance. We don’t have to endure a scene wherein Bond rifles through a box of childhood knick-knacks while sitting at home in his pajamas. Later on, the embarrassing “author of all your pain” line is gone, and the old MI6 building is no longer decorated with photocopied production stills of characters from Craig’s previous movies.

In addition, the entire movie’s colour grading is improved, as the original’s washed-out look is replaced with a higher contrast look and the pervasive yellow tint is lessened.

The edit’s greatest accomplishment, however, is the removal of all references to Bond’s secret: that he and Blofeld are foster brothers. This improves the film immeasurably. In the original cut, Bond is aggressively pursuing a secret suspicion – so secret his colleagues and not even the audience get to know about it. We follow the character closely, but never close enough to reveal his emotional stakes. When the “ghost” he’s been chasing is finally revealed, Bond doesn't register a single thought or feeling about any of it.

The result is a cold, confusing movie that turns the character into a near-psychopathic liability who pursues personal missions on the government’s dime, all while disrespecting his boss and endangering his colleagues' livelihoods every chance he gets.

With 007’s secret cut from the movie, all of this weirdness is almost entirely sidestepped. Now, he is simply carrying out an assignment left by his old boss, and then following lead after lead to see where it goes. Does it hold up as a story? Not really, but Bond films aren’t famous for their airtight plotting. For example, the first half of Thunderball is written in the same way. And all of Octopussy. And all of Quantum of Solace. I could go on. Is he still a bit of an asshole along the way? Maybe being disrespectful to superiors and reckless in general? Sure, but again, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. For example, in Thunderball. I can accept Bond’s rather bratty attitude just so long as he doesn’t also take the liberty of assigning himself a secret personal mission.

As should be clear, I was delighted with the removal of Bond’s secret. However, I did notice that Bond randomly still has the name “Franz Oberhauser” on his mind when he calls Moneypenny to ask for help. And when Q shows up in Austria to tell Bond that Oberhauser is dead, Bond insists that he saw Oberhauser at the SPECTRE meeting. It’s not clear where Bond gets this name, but at least it’s no longer implied that he and Blofeld knew each other as children.

The film is now generally enjoyable. Not quite engaging the viewer emotionally or intellectually like Craig’s other outings, but instead rising more to the level of fare like Tomorrow Never Dies or For Your Eyes Only. Decent, but never transcendent.

The editing is nearly flawless. I noticed only two hiccups, which are easily corrected: there are no subtitles to translate the terrorists’ conversation in Mexico City, and there’s a quick flash frame right before the end credits.

Once again, Last Survivor reveals himself to be a tasteful, skilled editor with a clear love for Bond. Recommended.
P
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