Spectre

by | Nov 7, 2015 | 0 comments

An Incredibly Disappointing Entry (Send-off??) to Craig’s 007

What a shame. The bar had been set very high with Skyfall, but to fall this low? Spectre might be one of Daniel Craig’s worst James Bond films (nothing can beat the horrendous Quantum of Solace), but then again Craig and Sam Mendes have spoiled us.

Everything starts out fine. We pick off where the last 007, Skyfall, left us off; we find James Bond (Daniel Craig) is in Mexico City taking matters into his own hands. A last message from the deceased M (Judy Dench) has Bond digging deep into the criminal organization called SPECTRE. After Mexico City Bond is suspended by MI6’s new M (Ralph Fiennes). In London we see some familiar faces again like Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and Q (Ben Wishaw). We also have the additions of the new Bond girls: Monicca Belucci as the mourning Lucia (and the oldest ever to play a Bond girl at 50), and Lea Seydoux as Dr. Madeline Swan. The villain here is Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), who is an evil caricature of Bond’s past; he seemingly has been involved with everything Craig’s Bond has suffered since Casino Royale. Back at MI6 M is fighting the new head of MI5, C (Andrew Scott), who wants to dissolve the 00 program.

Skyfall and Casino Royale (the 2006 version) are two of the greatest James Bond films ever made, they were original, unpredictable, and had mind blowing plots. But the two films that succeeded those were two disappointments (Quantum of Solace and now Spectre). The problem is that Quantum and Spectre try and do the same thing that had led their predecessors to success, but it ends up just having the audience see more of the same. Then there was the problem of bringing a reluctant Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig on board again. Mendes had wanted to keep his directing résumé of Bond films to one, but Sony convinced him to jump onto another one. We see Mendes’ great artistic hand in the beginning, but he does tire and soon we are left with too typical an action film. In fact during much of the film’s second act I felt like I was watching one of the Die Hard sequels rather than a 007 and a Mendes film. Then what frustrates me most is how predictable the movie’s ending and key moments were; you have the typical evil bad guy telling Bond his master plan while he is slowly killing him, something that earlier this year Kingsman made fun of and owed a great amount of its commercial and critical success to. Bringing back such clichéd and burnt out plots and scenes, and expecting us to take them seriously, is frankly embarrassing; Bond needs to learn to evolve to the times, while the Sean Connery films were great, these aren’t the 60s anymore.

Technically this is extremely satisfying; Skyfall surprised us all by the incredible sound and camera crew that Sam Mendes brought along. And although Mendes’ regular Photography Director Roger Deakins left for Spectre, his replacement Hoyte van Hoytema did more than meet expectations. I was especially struck with the uncut opening shot in Mexico City during the annual “Dia de los Muertos” celebration. The sound crew also did an amazing job by really making it feel like all the chaos and breaking of objects was actually happening, one actually felt the glass and walls breaking.

In terms of acting you could tell that the entire cast was exhausted after the extensive six month shoot. Craig is one of the best James Bonds, he properly finds the balance between suave womanizer and badass spy, however, he, like Mendes, has fallen into the blockbuster formula. You miss the vulnerability and fragility that he presented in Skyfall, he seemed like an actor, now he’s just being an action figure. The rest of the cast gave pretty forgettable performances as well, and Spectre had a phenomenal cast. I was happy to see more of Ben Wishaw as Bond’s computer and gadget geek. As an actor Wishaw held his own in such a big film, and even commandeered some of the film’s key moments. As I said before, in my Suffragette review, this actor deserves more and better roles. Then there is Christoph Waltz, I was eager to see this great Austrian actor take on the Bond franchise. But alas he was a disappointment as well; he plays his character with no passion or flare, and coming off of the great villain Silva in Skyfall (played by the great Javier Bardem) Waltz’s Oberhauser contrasts like cardboard villain. The fact that Oberhauser was connected to all of the previous Craig Bond films made me curious, and I was eager to see how such a villain had deceived us, but not only does the film forget to explain us how, but Waltz also makes no effort and making any of it seem credible.

In the end what can I say? I really wanted to like this film, but as more and more cheesy one-liners kept piling up I wanted to bury my face into my seat. If this is to be Craig’s last Bond film, it’s a shame we had to see him off like this.

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 57% 57%

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What is your favorite 007 movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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