REVIEW: 'Spectre' is sort of fun, but Bond's philandering hits a new low

by Michael Foust , Guest Reviewer |

CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) -- The latest James Bond film opens in theaters this weekend, and if you're counting, that's No. 24.

"Spectre," as it's called, stars Daniel Craig as James Bond, who in this latest installment is trying to stop a secret organization – Spectre -- that likes to do bad things like blow large crowded stadiums into smithereens.

But in this one, Bond is forced to do his hero work in defiance of his bosses, not only because he disobeyed them at one key moment early in the story but also because the British government is shutting down the intelligence unit under which he operates.

Agent 007 and all of the "00" agents, it seems, are being retired. Taking their place will be a worldwide intelligence organization consisting of nine nations and headed by a British man who isn't shy that everything in the world is being recorded. Bond, though, isn't convinced that this worldwide body is operating with good intentions.

That's the plot, but what can we learn if we view "Spectre" through a biblical lens?

Let's start with the positive. As in nearly every superhero or superhero-like movie nowadays, "Spectre" (PG-13) features a biblical worldview for its basic framework. "Good" is upheld, the bad guys are judged, and our heroic figure – 007 – triumphs. Christians and non-Christians alike flock to these types of films, unknowingly longing to see an on-screen fictional depiction of the non-fiction "Superhero" we read about only in Scripture.

Also in the positive category, Bond displays an amazing amount of grace in one crucial scene, refusing to kill a terrorist in what would have been nothing more than vengeance. That said, "Spectre" isn't light on violence, as Bond himself acknowledges when asked what he does for a living: "I kill people."

While Bond's violent actions can be excused because he's "getting the bad guys," his womanizing cannot be so easily forgotten. For decades moviegoers have joked about 007's prowess with the ladies, but if you're trying to raise kids in a film-crazed world – as I am – then it's not so funny.

In "Spectre," we see Bond seduce two different women and nearly a third. He literally seduces one woman the night of her husband's funeral and another woman shortly after her father's suicide. If he were a political figure we'd call him a heartless philanderer, but since he's James Bond, sadly, we don't analyze it. Biblically, it's abhorrent. To the filmmaker's credit, most everything in the sensuality department is implied, not seen.

That said, "Spectre" is a mostly fun film, and its chase scenes rival anything you'll see in theaters this year. That's not surprising, as its price tag of $250-$300 million makes it one of the most expensive films ever made. As for coarse language, I counted about eight words (Jesus' name is abused once, and there are no F-bombs).

It's certainly not a film for families with kids, although it may be clean enough for teens with discernment.

Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family friendly rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-movie discussion topics: Bond's womanizing – what's wrong with it?; surveillance programs – how much is too much?; movie violence – does it impact the culture?

Michael Foust has covered films for more than a decade. Visit his website, MichaelFoust.com.