D: Sam Mendes. DP: Hoyte Van Hoytema. W: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & Jez Butterworth. Starring: Daniel Craig/Christoph Waltz/Léa Seydoux/Ralph Fiennes/Ben Wishaw/Naomie Harris/Andrew Scott/Monica Bellucci/Rory Kinnear/Jesper Christensen/Dave Bautista. (NOTE: Based on Ian Fleming’s characters from his James Bond series)
Oh how the mighty do fall. The newest entrance into the James Bond cannon, Spectre, is quite literally a mess. Its theme song, title sequence, premise, script, and execution are all vastly inferior to 2012’s Skyfall. If Daniel Craig felt done with his portion of this franchise you will feel done with it as well after two and a half hours of this film.
Let’s start with the opening. The first sequence is actually strong. Dropped into the middle of Mexican festivities for the Day of the Dead our Bond (Craig) is already hot on the pursuit, no introductions needed. Yet this opening gives way to a scatterbrained title sequence that lacks any coherent theme or look even. The best visuals are of women made out of wispy smoke, but this is reminiscent of the sand and smoke of the title sequence of Quantum of Solace so not entirely new. Sam Smith’s song ‘Writing on the Wall’ is sadly made worse by the visual confusion of the credit sequence. The octopus imagery, which anyone would already be aware of from the trailer, is just too simple and by the end of the film lacks any significance. For a franchise whose theme songs and title sequence are legendary this is a major misstep.
Next we are subjected to rogue Bond on the run who quickly and superfluously seduces Monica Bellucci to gain minimal intelligence. Bond quickly learns that there are bigger forces at work that perhaps have been puppeteering his life recently. This is the first of many times the writers blatantly remind you of Craig’s bond films as a set and the time line of his character. Christoph Waltz’s villain lacks any originality as he merely serves this purpose of stringing all the films together. In other words, ‘hehe, it was me the whole time!’ Sadly Waltz becomes a caricature in this world. Some great hand to hand combat happens, but none of the action really comes from the villain. The final action act is a video game conclusion, save the princess and get out of the building in time. What a bore.
Bond is still supported by an excellently serious Ralph Fiennes as M and Naomie Harris as Money Penny. Ben Whishaw’s Q finally gets his do and breaks to the surface of the spyage with his gadgets and gizmos galore. Andrew Scott’s C is quite literally a less complex Moriarty, his character from the BBC Sherlock series. Type-casting if it ever needed a definition. Even gorgeous and brainy Madeleine Swann (Seydoux) cannot save Spectre. A character that could have been a cryptic comment on the Bond brand of misogyny gives way to Bond romance that sprouts in a matter of days. It’s so unbelievable it appears stupid rather than old fashioned. But what is bond without women who lay down for him? Maybe this character cannot work anymore.
Spectre is uninspired and slogs on so long you feel you have watched a few different films. Mendes is not coherent on a look or a story. like he was in Skyfall . Craig phones it all in and considering his publicly vented boredom with this character you wonder if the film should have been made at all. Also there is the inevitable comparison with the recent Bond homage Kingsman which narratively addresses technology and surveillance as weapons. This is simply bad timing, but really what everyone is waiting for the announcement of who the next Bond will be as Idris Elba rumors continue to spiral. I for one would love Elba as Bond, if you don’t believe me watch the BBC’s Luther. We shall have to wait and see, but maybe we all need a break anyway?