Spectre. This is a lesser Craig Bond movie along with Quantum of Solace, but I still find it better than most Bond movies and I’m generally a fan of the Craig era. That said, almost all of the issues I’ve had with this set of Bond films stems from the decision to treat them as a series or continuous story as opposed to the more one-off nature of the rest of the Bond filmography. Giving Bond more depth with more of a backstory is an admirable goal, but it fails for me most of the time and often the connections become silly, even for Bond. At the heart of that is the backstory that comprises the central issue for this movie. Without spoiling it, it wasn’t necessary, it isn’t needed, and it makes the entire thing feel smaller and sillier. Sadly, adding to this is the usually great Christoph Waltz who fails to sell the super villain as believable at all. The Craig era Bond films have relied more on plausible real world storylines and, as such, this entire movie feels like everyone including Bond must be so woefully incompetent to allow any of this to happen. It’s trying to throwback to the Bond franchise’s more fanciful days, but it ends up undermining itself—and the previous movies—at every turn as a result. Craig is fine as the stoic Bond and Lea Seydoux is fine as the “Bond girl,” but they have a more uncle/niece relationship until they don’t; their relationship is never really sold. It may sound as though I didn’t enjoy this movie, but I did. I think there’s a lot to like and, if taken at face value for a typical Bond entry, it’s better than most.
Spoilers from here on out.
For the fan edit, I think Last Survivor did a good job getting rid of the problematic relationship backstory between Bond and Blofeld and as such I think it improves the overall experience immeasurably. Though the result is at least one spot where I found the editing noticeably choppy. Once again LS has altered the theme song. And while I’m glad the theatrical theme is gone, I would’ve much preferred Radiohead. The only other quibble I have is with the ending. It was very abrupt. I hadn’t seen this movie in years so I had to check to see how the theatrical ended. I much prefer the theatrical ending, even if it’s a bit too neat. It is James Bond after all. Otherwise the editing is great and there was nothing that jumped out at me. I’d definitely recommend this edit if you’re like me and find it to be a good Bond outing diminished by the unnecessary backstory.
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.
What a wonderful fanedit of a movie I remember being sorely disappointed with. The pacing and tone of the whole movie felt like a Bond movie should feel. I couldn't tell when changes had been made from the orginal it was a enjoyable watch with my wife. This is my go-to edit of Spectre, great job LS!
A rip-roaring, dynamic update on what I always felt was a very underrated Bond film. Spectre is probably my least favorite of the Daniel Craig-starring Bond films, but I still love the hell out of it regardless. That being said, this edit elevates the film to being just as good as Casino Royale or Skyfall. The audio and visual editing, from beginning to end, is flawless, and the choices made regarding what should be cut out to make for a better experience are very, very smart choices. Amazing work.