Spectre has everything going for it: a talented cast, a great cinematographer, the same team that wrote and produced Skyfall. It also has a promising opening sequence, an extremely entertaining Day of the Dead chase scene that ends with helicopter fisticuffs and Sam Smith sobbing his way through the theme song. Once we get down to the story, though, we realize that there is none. For a movie about the ghosts of James Bond’s past, there is remarkably little emotional connection to the audience or between the characters. There are certainly characters and callbacks and people doing things like running and shooting, but we are given no reason to care. This is an opportunity to tie Craig’s movies together, to provide a satisfying ending to his run* as James Bond. What it is instead is a mix of weakly written motivations, a Daniel Craig who has had enough of this shit, and a subplot about surveillance and security that would be more interesting coming from a textbook. In fact, the writers attempt to tie so much from the last few movies together that it all just comes across as frustratingly contrived.
The most disappointing aspect of the film is how wasted its cast is. Christoph Waltz and Monica Bellucci belong in a Bond movie, but the former just goes through the motions and the latter doesn’t have enough screen time to go through the motions. Lea Seydoux does a good job with what she’s given, but the relationship between Madeleine Swann and James Bond features quite a few head-scratching moments throughout (seriously, it gets plain idiotic near the end). Andrew Scott and Ralph Fiennes are also here to try to make that aforementioned subplot entertaining, but to no avail.
I won’t deny that the movie can be entertaining, though. Q and Bond have the most chemistry out of anyone, and their interactions are always fun to watch. There’s a From Russia with Love-esque train fight scene between Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) and Bond, and although it makes absolutely zero sense in the context of the plot, it’s still a well done sequence. The problem is that these fun moments are few and far between, weakened by the dullness around them and by the nonexistent scope that the writers want you to believe the movie has. There are some big twists at the end that we all saw coming a mile away, and they feel more tired and obvious than surprising or hard-hitting. I still enjoyed watching James Bond kick ass, but as a movie, Spectre unfortunately remains stuck in mediocrity.
-*This is not the end for him, according to a producer.
-This is pretty much the same thing as Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, right down to the locations. However, that movie was a little bit more fun.
-James Bond as superhuman is back again. It can get kind of groan-worthy at times.
-The whole needle torture sequence is incredibly stupid. The needles just seem to make Bond stronger. It would’ve been much more interesting to see him attempt to escape while dealing with the effects of what the needles were supposed to do.
-The whole “shoot the helicopter from the sky” scene at the end. Ugh.
-I was interested to find out Blofeld’s motivations, but then…daddy issues?
Photo credit: Spectre, Eon Productions