Monday, November 9, 2015


In my review of Skyfall I stated that I loved Casino Royale and despised Quantum of Solace. Skyfall ended up becoming my new favorite Daniel Craig starring James Bond flick due to it’s mature story, great action, a deliciously dastardly villain and wonderful insight into the main character.

When the details surrounding the follow-up, Spectre, were revealed I was absolutely delighted! Sam Mendes was returning to the director’s chair. John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade would be writing the screenplay once again. Thomas Newman would be supplying the music and the entire cast of regulars would be starring front and center. And with the foundation that Skyfall provided I was completely stoked to see where the story would end up going, especially since it was finally bringing the criminal organization SPECTRE back into the fold!

And that ended up being right into the toilet. 
When James Bond (Daniel Craig) receives a cryptic message from his past he goes rogue to uncover a sinister terrorist organization - SPECTRE.

Everything that Skyfall did right, Spectre does the exact opposite. Where there was plenty of action and espionage, now there is none. Where there was awesome character development, now there is none. Where there was a conscious effort to remove all the cheesy tropes the series was known for from the start, now they have returned and in a completely awkward fashion. Where the performances of the actors were top notch, now they act like zombies. Where there was a villain that felt like a genuine and terrifying menace, now we have one of the most non-threatening antagonists of all time. Where there was a fantastic movie that I consider to be the best in the entire history of the franchise, we now have one of the worst. Where did it all go wrong?
I remember reading that director Sam Mendes wasn’t interested in helming another Bond film, but I’m pretty sure that the producers threw a nice stack of money his way to make him change his mind. Well, after watching Spectre I can confidently say that it certainly didn’t work. His complete disinterest in the material is evident in every single second of film. There is no energy to any scene. He directs his actors to stand perfectly still and mechanically recite their dialogue. Even Hoyte Van Hoytema’s (Interstellar, Let the Right One In) cinematography is of the “place the camera in the most boring spot imaginable and let the film run out” variety and is so under lit in some instances that its impossible to see what is going on. It’s boring from start to finish in every way possible.

I usually like Daniel Craig in this role. Not here. He acts like he’s on Quaaludes for the entire film. He blankly stares off into the distance during dialogue scenes and can barely seem to run at a decent clip when he needs to get somewhere fast. I think Mendes’ malaise rubbed off on him.
Both Bond girls, Léa Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded) come off as vapid bimbos willing to jump on Bond’s dong just because its there (one bangs him right after her husband’s funeral). Bellucci’s character didn’t even really need to be included (why exactly were those people going to kill her?) as Bond could have just followed one of the funeral goers to the SPECTRE meeting place instead of thrusting the info out of her in a forced and completely unnecessary sex scene (wasn’t the series supposed to be moving away from Bond’s whoring ways?).

Even Bond’s colleagues look like burned out 9 to 5ers that don’t seem to care that their organization is about to be shut down by their peers and just keep going about their everyday business. They are criminally underused as well. Especially Naomi Harris' Moneypenny.
But worst of all is the way Oberhauser/Blofeld is portrayed by Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). This is the ultimate evil mastermind in the Bond universe. We’ve seen him played by great actors such as Donald Pleasance (Halloween) and Telly Savalas (Kojak). When I heard Waltz was cast in the part I was ecstatic. He played one of my fave villains of all time – Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. Well, his interpretation of Ernst Stavro Blofeld is to act like someone who is afraid of speaking too loud in the library. He quietly recites his lines in a way that really irked me to no end in that he half smiles as if he’s embarrassed to have to say them aloud (this guy was the villain in The Green Hornet so he has experience with crap dialogue). He isn’t scary, threatening or even a complete character for that matter. The writers threw a little Bond/Blofeld connection in there to freshen things up a bit (it’s lame) while most of the time expecting the audience to bring what they remember from the character’s previous appearances with them to fill in the blanks.

And don’t even get me started on the Jaws ripoff, Hinx, played by Dave Bautista who has metal thumbnails (that he uses once) instead of metal teeth. Worst. Henchman. Ever.
The screenwriters also majorly screw this classic character up at every turn. He does things that are contrary to everything that he stands for and puts civilians in harm’s way for no reason at all. For example – the prologue action scene. Bond is in Mexico City to assassinate a terrorist, but instead accidentally blows up an apartment building and part of another one. He doesn’t seem even remotely concerned that he might have just killed a number of people that resided within, but were also on the street below when the structure collapsed. He then hijacks a helicopter his target is getting away on, and instead of going after his mark he makes a beeline right for the pilot and commences to beat his ass silly. Mind you, at this point the chopper is airborne right above a town square filled with thousands of people celebrating The Day of the Dead. Bond tries to crash the helicopter not once, but twice into the square (and causes it to perform three physics defying barrel rolls in the process). Why are the writers trying to make Bond come off as a cold-hearted asshole who could give two shits about causing collateral damage?

Another WTF moment comes near the end...


While being tortured by Blofeld, Bond’s new love interest, Madeleine (played haplessly by Léa Seydoux), tells him that she loves him and gives him a deep, wet kiss. Ten minutes later before the big finale begins she stops in the middle of the street and in one of the most singularly unconvincing ways possible tells him that she can’t be with him anymore out of nowhere. Bond just stands there like “Okay”, and walks away. WHO THOUGHT ANY OF THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!

And the shitty icing on this dookie cake is how this film ends up being a James Bond-ified carbon copy of Captain America: The Winter Soldier! No joke! When the big (so-called) twist occurred I leaned over to one of my friends that was sitting beside me and said exactly that. And sadly Spectre comes nowhere near the awesomeness that is The Winter Soldier. It’s not even in the same galaxy. Not even the same reality.


Mainly I feel it’s the combination of the putrid screenplay and Mendes’ disinterest in the film that is the main issue. The actors only do what they’re told as do the rest of the crew.  It’s his job to interpret the script in a visual way, keep it entertaining and moving at a constant clip. He did none of that. The final film feels rushed, unfocused and the pacing is pedantic in the extreme. Outside of a pretty impressive unbroken shot at the top of the film, Ben Whishaw’s fun version of Q, a great opening credits sequence (which features a terrible theme song and makes the audience think that they will learn how previous characters in the Craig films will connect when actually they kind of don't) and a couple of decent dialogue scenes (loved the Bond and Mr. White exchange) I can say nothing else positive about Spectre. It is one of the worst films in this series, if not THE worst.

When describing my feelings for Spectre to someone after seeing it, I actually said “I’d rather watch Quantum of Solace again” than this newest entry in the franchise. And keeping in mind how much I dislike that film, that’s a bold and very telling statement.

1 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment