Starring: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Spectre, or how it should be known, How I Squandered The Goodwill Of Skyfall (Please Stop Hiring Me), Sincerely, Sam Mendes. I just don’t understand what went wrong. You’re coming off the best James Bond film ever, the highest grossing, the one that actually put Javier Bardem and Judi Dench onto Oscarwatch lists… and then you do this? Spectre isn’t an awful film, but it’s a lot like Tomorrow Never Dies. Goldeneye was so promising, and then we got Tomorrow Never Dies which was decidedly “meh” in comparison. Now, compare Goldeneye to Skyfall, which is a much better film, and you get a much bigger “MEH” from me.
Spectre takes off where Skyfall left us, with Bond trying to find answers, and following a trail of breadcrumbs left behind by M (Judi Dench) after her death. It leads him to discover there’s an elite organization that has been behind the events of the last three films, and there’s a guy behind it. Yes, he’s Blofield (Christoph Waltz). Sorry if that’s a spoiler to you, but his name shouldn’t be a spoiler, rather his connection to Bond, which felt REALLY underused and underappreciated.
There are so many problems with the story here, and one of them is that it spends way too much time doing things other than dealing with Spectre. Bond spends more time fighting a villain who never speaks (Bautista) than he actually does Blofield. And Blofield pales in comparison to Silva from Skyfall. On paper Christoph Waltz seems like a great Bond villain, but they’re wasting him here. He has a few scenes, and none of them really show why he’s a criminal mastermind, nor do they suggest he deserves to be at the head of an organization like Spectre. He comes across as whiny, but never a mastermind. I knew Bond would win. There was never a doubt.
In some ways, Spectre feels like a conclusion to the Bond franchise, because it wraps up the first three films. If this is the end, it’s Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig asking to not come back. This is not the way to leave a franchise. It’s lazy, the story sucks, and the Bond girls (Seydoux/Bellucci) lack any real chemistry with him. In fact, he basically rapes Bellucci, who plays the grieving widow of a man Bond killed. He kind of just breathes heavily on her neck till she finally gives into his desires. I get it. Bellucci is hot. You’re James Bond. You’re used to fucking every woman you come in contact with. But, she clearly was not having it, and you rubbed on her till she finally gave in to you. That’s not romantic, it’s creepy.
I had such incredibly high hopes for Spectre, and all I was left with was a few decent action sequences, and some pretty good exposition for the supporting characters. Whishaw has more to do here than any Q ever, Fiennes gets out from behind his desk, and even Moneypenny (Harris) actually gets involved in the espionage a bit. It’s rewarding for longtime fans of Daniel Craig’s Bond Universe. But for those looking for a solid follow-up to Skyfall, or hoping the bar had been raised, it hasn’t. Unlike the Mission Impossible franchise that constantly reinvents itself and finds ways to up the game and get better creatively each time, Spectre has dropped back down to the ho-hum quality of Quantum Of Solace. It’s not a terribly awful movie, it’s just a really disappointing one considering the circumstances.
If we’re being honest, there are films this year that were critically panned as flops that I actually enjoyed more than Spectre. I’d rather sit through Terminator Genisys a second time than this. Spectre is far too long for its own good, focusing screentime on things that ultimately don’t matter, building up an organization and then doing virtually nothing with it. Silva literally destroyed the 00 program by blowing the building up and killing M. Blofield comes nowhere near that.
Disappointing. That’s my “critic blurb”.
FINAL GRADE: C