So I finally gave in and watched Spectre. As I’ve said before, I wasn’t a huge fan of Daniel Craig when he first replaced Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, but he definitely grew on me over the years. It helps that he seems like such a cool guy in interviews, and although I was a Craig sceptic at first, even I have to admit he makes a pretty great 007.
Was Spectre a great Bond movie? Nah, not really. The story wasn’t as interesting as previous installments, and I felt it just dragged on too long. But it was full of the expected action shots, clichés and one liners that make Bond films what they are: an overall enjoyable experience.
Like any self-respecting Bond movie, Spectre features explosions, car chases, train and helicopter stunts, plenty of shaky cam shots and a fair bit of romance. Are all the implausible situations necessary for the plot? Not really, but they’re fun, and there isn’t much plot to build a 2 and a half hour movie around anyway: Bond discovers that a mysterious organization is behind just about every tragedy he’s had to face in the past, and the head of this organization is none other than his surrogate brother. To make things worse, one of the villain’s own men is the British intelligence agent hellbent on shutting down the 00 program and basically handing all intelligence gathered from MI6 and several other agencies around the world over to the bad guys. Bond is pretty much left to his own devices to battle the evil organization, with a little help from Q and Moneypenny, and eventually M himself. Oh, and of course there’s this girl Madeleine Swann he’s supposed to save, the very bland daughter of a former adversary.
There are plot holes aplenty, especially when it comes to Bond’s origins. All the unnecessary traveling to exotic locations is getting a bit old, but such is the nature of the beast, I guess. The escalating action takes him back to London, of course, where he has very little time to defeat the supervillains about to take control of the entire world’s intelligence and save the girl, because this is Bond we’re talking about.
The whole ‘Big Brother is watching’ premise is not entirely original, either; every action movie of the past decade or so uses the information-is-power device, but in this case, it just seems forced. Even if traditional spies are made obsolete, the only reason anyone will watch a Bond movie is Bond himself; if he’s supposed to be irrelevant and replaced by spycams, software and drones, there’s really no point in continuing the Bond saga to begin with.
Even tiny details that are usually glossed over in Bond movies become annoying in this one. A spy and a girl are on the run; they had zero time to pack a bag, but they somehow end up having dinner in a train car in full black tie attire. Bond getting hold of a white tux, let’s say I buy; but a full blown satin evening gown with nary a wrinkle?
Sure, because that’s the first thing I’ll throw in my overnight bag when I’m being chased by a ginormous block of muscle out to kill me, and I’ll even find someone to iron it for me because I need the guy I’m begrudgingly following to drool over me at dinner.
And let’s talk about that block of muscle for a second. Dave Bautista is no stranger to WWE fans, and although a good choice for an intimidating guy who can smack Bond around a little bit, he’s not exactly straight out of the Actor’s Studio. I’ll have to give Mendes props for only giving him a single four-letter world to speak during the entire movie, as mic skills were never Batista’s forte, but honestly, I can think of plenty of other huge WWE guys who would work brilliantly as henchmen – and could actually deliver a line or two.
And while we’re on the subject of casting, who the hell decided to give Monica Belucci the insignificant role of the widow that only appears in the movie for a couple of minutes? She would have made a wonderful Bond girl in her prime, and although aging gracefully and still quite the looker, she had no raison d’ être in this movie, at all.
Somehow over the course of the manhunt, Madeleine falls for Bond, because of course. Don’t you just love the way Bond girls toss those I love yous around? Maybe Dr. Swann might have a thing or two to say about her own daddy issues, if she weren’t too busy trying to (unsuccessfully) establish herself as a valid therapist by pseudo-shrinking Bond during the train car dinner scene. Aside from her ability to weild a weapon, this particular Bond girl doesn’t seem to be doing much during the whole movie. There was no spunk, no witty banter, and definitely nothing to warrant Bond’s decision to just give everything up for her at the end. I mean, come on. This is such an anticlimactic conclusion, especially after Vesper, that I want to slap the writers upside the head.
Although the script was a letdown, the movie’s one saving grace, aside from Craig himself, could have been Christoph Waltz. Except he wasn’t. Not only do I prefer to see Waltz play the good guy, he was so underused in this film it just felt like a complete waste of his talent.
I could go on, but I don’t want to rag on this movie too much. It wasn’t the best, but at least it was entertaining.
Just please, Hollywood hotshots… next time you make a Bond film, just stick to Fleming’s stories. This hodge-podge is what happens when you improvise.