Saw the latest Bond movie, Spectre. Spent the entire thing wondering how it was possible for a movie like this to work. The character development is perfunctory, and the plot is nonsensical. Everyone acts like an idiot: the villains pass up on a dozen opportunities to kill Bond, and why? Just so they can toy with him. The movie shouldn't work, and yet my heart was thumping the entire time, and the movie passed without any boredom.
I concluded that the movie was pure suspense. It works at the level of the nerves. Every thirty minutes you're ushered into some elegant surrounding: an Italian villa; a Swiss ski resort; a Saharan oasis. And then you spend twenty-five minutes wondering when exactly all hell is going to break loose. And it never happens exactly how you expect, and when it does happen it only takes about two minutes, because the point isn't the violence...it's the waiting for the violence.
Even the action scenes are all about managing suspense. When it's just a matter of Bond fighting a bad guy, the scene usually takes twenty seconds. It's only when there's something more at stake, like a plaza full of innocent people who might potentially get chopped down by a falling helicopter, that the action becomes more drawn out.
And that's all there is to the movie. Time and again, it juxtaposes elegance and violence; calm and frenzy. Rinse, repeat, and go to the bank. The movie showed amazing control. I just wish it had used all of that control in service of something other than merely getting my heart racing. Like, getting my heart racing was awesome...but shouldn't there be more to it than that? Some theme? Something new or revealing?