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By BK

One of the (few) downsides of being a member of the Armed Intelligencia is that you tend to see through so many of Hollywood’s tricks and tropes. Once you begin your ride as a certified gun nut, you count rounds remaining in magazines/cylinders and wonder how long the bad guy waited for the ATF to approve his Form 4 for that suppressed SBR (spoiler alert: he didn’t). You shake your head when dozens of baddies can’t hit the broadside of barn while the White Hats are all one-shot-one-kill and you wince every time the good guys blithely muzzle each other. Perhaps most egregiously, you grind your teeth to stubby nubs when our hero unnecessarily racks his shotgun over and over. Even for the most die-hard 007 fans among us, the latest James Bond installment, Spectre, will drive you absolutely bonkers . . .

Bond’s reliance on a PPK spitting out .380 ACP pills has been questioned uncounted times, but I’m going give him a pass here. As Nutnfancy would say, there’s a second kind of cool going on with the Walther. Still, I lost count of the other ballistic absurdities. Here are those I can remember:

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  • In the opening scene, Bond covertly (sort of) snipes at a terrorist with a GLOCK 19 in a FAB Defense KPOS Carbine PDW Conversion absolutely dripping with rails and do-dads. I’ve never had the need to take down a kingpin in Mexico City during a parade (the day is still young), but should the opportunity arise, I can think of about 50 better assassination tools I’d choose than this obvious product placement. Heck, a $250 10/22 Takedown might make more sense.
  • A henchman politely asks Bond to disarm before entering the villain’s inner sanctum (I love it when henchmen are polite!). Bond dutifully plunks down his PPK…in a Galco IWB holster. What with all the government spending cuts, it’s good to know that Her Majesty’s Government only had to spend $26.26 on Bond’s holster. Heck, if they sprang for a Prime membership, Bond even got free shipping. As he lays the weapon/holster on the silver platter, our hero smirks at Polite Henchman and quips, “be careful; it’s loaded.” The trouble is that it’s not loaded. Bond – our expert operator with a license to kill – spends the entire freaking movie carrying his PPK in Condition 3. I realize the idea behind constantly racking the slide is to give the audience an auditory clue that the gun is ready to rock and roll, but can’t we just get by with the click of Bond thumbing the hammer back? Surely a highly trained killing machine can be comfortable carrying a pill in the pipe. Heck, I’m good with it, and I’m only a moderately trained killing machine.
  • I wonder how much the makers of the AF2011 Dueller Prismatic paid to get one into the hands of Mr. Hinx, the mute hitman played by Dave Bautista. It looks absolutely absurd on screen, though it can apparently punch 4-inch holes in the sides of airplanes. Apparently.

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  • In yet another painful bit of product placement, Bond arms his lady friend du jour, Dr. Madeleine Swann, giving her a crash course on the gun’s anatomy.

“I hate guns,” she protests.

“SIG 226,” Bond retorts, giving her the tour. “Trigger, hammer, rear sight, front sight. Pull the trigger and it goes bang.”

Demonstrating she’s no noob, he pops the mag and snaps out the chambered round (now he carries with one in the chamber?). Two things here: Bond thought he was introducing her to guns for the first time, pointing out features on a loaded weapon. Even if you suspect Baddie McBadderson with that double-barreled .45 is on the train with you, there’s no way you’d give your Guns 101 lecture with a loaded gat. Second, the 226 is never seen again. How much did SIG spend to have their name mentioned, only to have it sit, impotent on a table, while Dr. Swann picks up Bond’s dropped PPK? This is the only time I can remember a non-Walther firearm being called out by name in a Bond movie (I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong in the comments), and it goes absolutely nowhere.

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  • We’ve already established that Bond is a member of Team .380 when it comes to the caliber wars. Q must have cooked up some pretty hot handloads for the PPK, because while most of us are agonizing over ballistic gel penetration at seven yards (with a few layers of denim if we’re feeling really kinky), Bond skips the gel tests and disables a flying helicopter at least 500 yards away with two or three well-placed shots. At night. While pitching and rolling in a speedboat. He must have some pretty amazing night sights on that PPK. No Trijicon knockoffs for Bond, no sireee. I guess it just goes to show that shot placement really is everything when it comes to a defensive gun use.

The ballistic bits aren’t all bad: Bond has noticeably dropped the “smart gun” from Skyfall from his arsenal, the gun that sent shivers and tingles up the legs of gun grabbers from sea to shining sea. I wish I could see this as a political statement by the filmmakers, but in reality, smart gun makers probably couldn’t pony up for the product placement fee.

A drunken Bond interrogates and seriously considers shooting a mouse that sneaks into his room. “Who are you?! Who sent you?!” he demands. As someone who seriously considered clearing leather on a mouse that scurried across my kitchen floor last week, I could relate. Home carry, people. Home carry.

Here’s the thing though: who the heck cares? Bond has always been absurd and always been awesome. Even Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby oozed cool, and they’re the lame kids in the class. The deeply chiseled Daniel Craig? He could have taken out that helicopter with a Hi-Point, and I promise you most of the gun blogosphere would be reconsidering the world’s homeliest (but apparently reliable) firearms because of its newfound style and panache.

Spectre is nowhere near the modern-era Bond Classic that was Skyfall. Where that movie hit the sweet spot between sexy, silly, somber and (fan) service, the latest entry lacks zest and gets lost in the weeds. This is surprising, because when I heard Cristoph Waltz was playing the throwback main baddie, Blofeld, I giggled like [insert your favorite TTAG simile here]. What a waste that the script gives him nothing fun to do or say.

Despite breathing life into the franchise with 2006’s Casino Royale, Craig has grown tired of the role and it shows. He looks genuinely pained to be saying the sillier lines of dialogue or to pilot a wingless plane down a ski slope. Who knows what direction the series will go when his 007 is put out to pasture.

As much as I appreciated Casino Royale and Skyfall (and to a much lesser extent, Quantum of Solace) the Bond films of the Craig era are too concerned with continuity and tying all the films together in one cinematic universe. No has ever accused any of the Bond films of having overly simplistic plots, but Spectre’s makes zero sense. There is some half-hearted hand-wringing about living in a police state under constant surveillance, but no one really seems to care that much.

I also don’t need a half dozen references to Bond’s deceased lover from two movies ago, Vesper Lynd. “Did he tell you about her?” Blofeld asks Dr. Swann as he tortures Bond. What kind of question is that? Drilling into your foes brain is one thing, but bringing up his ex with his new girl in the room? That’s a serious Bro Code violation. Not cool, Blofeld. Not cool.

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The high point is without a doubt that Bond Girl, Madeleine Swann, played by French actress Lea Seydoux. With those eyes, that hair, that figure and that accent? She’ll give any model linked by RF a run for her money, and she’ll do it fully clothed. Mostly. Dr. Swann may say she “hates guns,” but she knows how to handle the pistol when it counts. I’ll let you decide if that’s a euphemism.

Other guns that pop up, just in case you’re curious:

HK VP9
HK G36C
Steyr AUG A3 (never actually used)
Czech Small Arms SA vz. 58 Compact

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model: Spectre
Caliber: .380 ACP
Length: 148 minutes
Action: Not bad. Not earth shattering.
Finish: Meh
Price: $300 million (reportedly)

RATINGS (out of five bullets):

Style * * * *
It’s no Skyfall, but it’s still a pretty slick film. The opening scene at the Dia de los Muertos parade in Mexico City is very striking.

Reliabilty: * * *
Somewhat lacking. I needed a better villain and a tighter script.

Overall: * * * *
Lea Seydoux brings the average up significantly. If you’re a Bond fan, you’ll see it regardless.

58 Responses to Movie Review: Spectre

  1. Haven’t seen it yet, but supposedly, there’s also a scene where he takes out a helo about 300 yards away with a pistol while standing on a moving boat.

    I also needed to get something off my chest – I hated Skyfall. Or at least I hated the part where he took M to his mansion for the final shootout. If the head of British Intelligence is under threat, fine, take her to the mansion. But don’t wait there all by yourself. Have them drop a squad or two of SAS boys to pull perimeter security. Trying to protect M all by himself (plus one aged gamekeeper) was just absurd.

  2. Spectre felt like it was about 5 hours long. and none of the characters felt developed. poorly written and disappointing.

  3. I doubt any firearms manufacturer outside of Walther paid to have anything in that movie anymore than a hat company paid to have Oddjob. Free, or really cheap guns sure. I also highly doubt FAB would have the money for a gun in a Bond movie, but the little gun looks cool, regardless of effectiveness.

    • ^ This. Remember Daniel Craig’s other quote: “I hate handguns. Handguns are used to shoot people and as long as they are around, people will shoot each other.”

    • Hey, TTAG management –

      How about asking Ralph to review some of the classic Bond flicks?

      Amazon has ’em in Blu-ray…

    • Aha! That’s why you didn’t review this Ralph. First rule of Bond-be swoon worthy. THIS guy’s a bloke. I’ll see it on HBO someday-maybe. Looks quite ordinary to me-who saw Thunderball in the theater(we walked to it)…

  4. Based on this review (good job, BK!), it seems that instead of being titled “SPECTRE,” it should have been called “SPHINCTER.”

  5. How ’bout when she is showing Bond that she knows how to unload the gun and POINTS IT DIRECTLY AT HIM to rack the slide?

    My wife cringed before I did.

    One thing I did like about the movie was the line in the scene where he is introducing the Sig to her (Paraphrasing):
    “The best way for me to protect you is to teach you to protect yourself.”

    That is as close to a pro-gun statement as any that has happened in a bond film.

  6. Great review – I agree that I rolled my eyes constantly through the film when Bond would chamber a round in his PPK – drove me nuts – scene after scene

    I should note that in Skyfall – when Bond exits the apartment at the beginning of the movie – you can see him de-cock his PPK before reholstering it in his shoulder holster after having cleared the room with the hammer in a cocked position…small details like this are conspicuously absent in SPETCTRE….

    • Must have a very light spring in that PPK as the .380 ones can be a bit hard to rack to chamber a round. A light spring and hot loads would make for some interesting shooting.

      IFAIK the recommended way is to rack the gun on an empty mag then insert a full one and pull back and release the slide. .32s are much easier as are the PP with it’s heavier slide needing less spring pressure.

  7. If you enjoyed Lea Seydoux, you should probably check out ‘Blue is the Warmest Color” on Netflix. You see a lot, um, “more” of her.

    • She is a 5 at best.

      How in the world Lea Seydoux graduated from the Skinemax lesbo-garbage that was “Blue is the Warmest Color”, hott as it may be, straight into a Bond movie so quickly is totally beyond me.

  8. Being knowledgeable about firearms definitely ruins movies.

    I’ll take a pass on this turd. Anyway, why give anti-gun hypocrite Daniel Craig any money?

    • I didn’t have time to get to the theater and spend three hours watching Daniel Craig try to look awake. In retrospect, I’m happy that I had a busy schedule.

  9. I liked the remake of Casino Royale and A Quantum of Solace. In both, Craig played a more serious Bond. Skyfall was over the top. After his comments about handguns, I am no longer a fan. The same applies to Liam Neeson even though I enjoyed his Taken series.

  10. Sometimes you just gotta lighten up. Bond films were never meant to be taken seriously. The ridiculousness is what makes them so entertaining in the first place.

    The swordfight choreographer for the LOTR trilogy was once told “You know that could never happen in real life.” He responded “Oh my boy! This is the movies!”

    Movies will also show you that one blast from a shotgun will unleash a massive payload all over the face, neck, and chest of your enemy that money-shots them out of existence.

    What bugged me more was the lever-action rifle from Jurassic World, which made no meaningful contribution to the outcome of the film. Chris Pratt even used a DIFFERENT rifle to shoot the pterodactyls!

    • Jurassic World sucked. But to be fair to the lever action, NONE of the weapons made a difference in the outcome of the film. Not even the bazooka. Amazingly, there has been a book (and of course, an analysis of said book) written about taking down a T. Rex.

      http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3016/could-i-take-down-a-em-t-rex-em-with-my-beretta-9mm-pistol

      No, a 92FS won’t cut it. But a .460 Weatherby will. Given the number of times that Indominus Rex was perforated with lesser bullets, though, I feel like the ACU could have gotten the job done before they were all eaten. Twice.

    • To be fair to Bond films, right, wrong or indifferent, Mike Meyers really did have a huge effect with the Austin Powers” schtick. He did so much with those films, that it was an impossibility to have a Connery Bond in their wake.

  11. Rambo taught a generation of assholes that shooting from the hip kicks ass, Darwinian selection should take care of the rest. In contrast, Saddam Hussein used Black Hawk Down to train fedayen on ranger/delta assault tactics. I’ll play devil’s advocate on both sides of the argument on whether or not movies are better or worse in regards to portraying realistic tactics and violence.

  12. This is the only time I can remember a non-Walther firearm being called out by name in a Bond movie (I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong in the comments)

    …… Ahem

    That is a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six…. (Quoted from the book/ movie Dr No). In the book the guy used a revolver but in the movie They used a suppressed 1911.

  13. I’m glad I am not the only one who doesn’t “get” DC as Bond. People have suggested my problem lies with a “Blonde Bond” but I think it has more to do with him chewing on the scenery trying to “act.”

    And this Bond Girl was “If she asked nicely, I’d do her” at best.

  14. One thing about this movie, it tries REALLY HARD to look like a video game. All action scenes look like they’re straight from Call of Duty or Battlefield. Oh, the irony…

  15. Bond’s Walther PPK has always been a .32ACP calibre, he’s never changed the calibre since M had Q issue him with it in replacement of his Beretta 25ACP in Dr No. and if I could hit a flying zig zagging quail with a hip shot using a single shot air rifle as the family jewells were caught up in a barbed wire fence on an overgrown earthern irrigation channel then Bond might also have hit the jet fans with a .32 80 grain fmj projectile from a speeding boat in London’s Thames Estury at night at 300-500 metres, single handed. We in the trade call it “pure class” without the CL bit.

  16. Whether Dr. Swann would have or should have revealed more skin does not matter to me. I was let down when she defended 007 with a shot to the big goon’s arm instead of his head. With all the unrealistic weapons handling and fantasy tactics, why not satisfy us women with one successful shot to the head to protect the hot man? Women ain’t blind. Success and satisfaction are great for everyone!! Keeping one’s ally alive is good in any book. C’mon Hollywood, give it to us ladies how we want it!

  17. I think the arm shot was one of the more realistic parts of the fight. I think he was turned sideways and she was shooting center of mass. Also in a “real” fight a single stack .380 kind of sucks

    • Realistic, yes. I see that. All the unrealistic fight scenes were more satisfying to the viewer. This is my specific ‘let down’ since childhood when watching fight scenes. In real life, I enjoy helping others, including in challenging situations, such as to provide first aid or hold my own during a ‘hold-up’. In an actual situation when two male friends and I were held up at gunpoint, I remained in control of my faculties. I even managed to make the one of the 3 thieves directed at me, crack a smile and refuse the demand by their apparent leader, to look deeper into my purse. In other words, I do not guns turn off my brain, I focus on the person holding it. In my entertainment, I want to see more women handle guns well, whether realistic or unrealistic, and have successful and satisfyingly self-directed experiences alongside their male allies. I mean, if the film is in fantasy mode, may as well let the female viewer have the fantasy, too. If she really wants to live and get her man, why not get that goon outta her way in logical keeping with all the other emotionally satisfying unrealistic demonstrations of superhuman fighting. In real life though, when you can’t actually take your gun out of your holster in specific situations, psychology goes a long way toward keeping one alive.

  18. I was late seeing this movie but bought the DVD to watch. I have watched Spectre at least 6 times as it is the best of all the 007 Daniel Craig movies. Casino Royale is my second choice. His look and attitude is so further developed over the last 10 years so that he knows the character without even thinking about it. It’s such a physically demanding role I can understand why he doesn’t want to continue but they are going to have a hard time replacing him. He is the best Bond yet.

  19. Other name brands in other movies,
    Dr. No – Beretta. Bond’s original gun in the books was a Beretta .25, in the movies it was apparently a Beretta .32. He also calls Professor Dent’s gun a Smith & Wesson, when it was really some sort of 1911
    From Russia With Love – Bond’s AR-7 given to him by Q
    Goldfinger – Bond specifically points out Pussy Galore’s gun is a Smith & Wesson .45 caliber revolver
    Goldeneye – in a deleted scene, Valentine Zukovsky is talking with an arms dealer, an H&K MP5 and a Glock 17 are specifically mentioned
    Tomorrow Never Dies – Bond specifically identifies a Chinese Makarov to Wai Lin in Saigon

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