Starring: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Andrew Scott, Naomi Harris, Ben Wishaw
Directed by: Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road to Perdition)
Synopsis: James Bond gets in fights, drives cars, drinks, and woos women.
- Christoph Waltz does menacing very well and always seems like a crazy person, even when he’s playing a good guy.
- The Austria location looked beautiful.
- It’s a wild departure from the classic Bond films, but it was Q-ool to see Q get more involved.
- Andrew Scott isn’t given much time but he’s really great at playing a-holes.
- Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann gives one of the best Bond girl performances ever. Maybe the best since Jill St. John.
What doesn’t work:
- The opening title sequence is embarrassingly bad. Bond is shirtless and stone-faced while being caressed by women while a giant octopus looms over all. My wife and I were actually laughing all through it. And the song sucks.
- Skyfall contains probably my favorite cinematography ever put to film. Some of the sets and scenes are truly breathtaking (particularly Bond’s arrival at the Chinese casino) and I find myself watching them over and over again. Spectre has nothing like that. The Day of the Dead scene is oddly bland. The Morocco scenery is also just kind of dusty and uninteresting.
- The plot is… not really there? Old Lady M left Bond a video telling him to go kill some random guy, it’s not clear why or I don’t remember why this particular gentleman. Then basically the rest of the movie is finding out who the main villain is, and him revealing himself, and that’s kind of it.
- Speaking of which [MAJOR SUPER SPOILER HERE SO READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT] it’s ultimately revealed that Christoph Waltz’s character is Blofeld (which everybody in the audience knew anyway so it wasn’t all that shocking) and the story goes that after Bond’s parents died Blofeld’s dad raised him so Blofeld didn’t like the attention taken away so he killed his dad and decreed a lifelong vendetta against Bond (instead of just, you know, killing Bond). So the movie wants us to believe that everything that’s happened in the Craig-era movies was orchestrated by Blofeld, which makes about as much sense as eating Pizza Hut in Manhattan. Take Skyfall, where the villain Silva has beef with M and that’s his sole motivation. So now it’s supposed to be that he was pushed by Blofeld to do all that? That’s just stupid. Also, Spectre constantly shoves in our faces that all the previous villains were in Spectre. There’s a scene at the end [SPOILER AGAIN] where Blofeld is going to blow up MI-6 HQ and there are pictures of those villains in holding cells. WHY????!!?!! And when did they have time to do that?
- So like I said, Blofeld didn’t really have any evil plot to take over the world or anything. His plot was basically to reveal himself to Bond. And I guess kill Bond’s girlfriend by blowing up the abandoned MI-6 building that was slated for demolition anyway. In one scene that’s a throwback to the dumb Bond villain torture devices of yore, Blofeld has a robotic machine that puts tiny drills in Bond’s head, for no real reason. At the end of it he says he’s drilling a hole into the part of his brain responsible for remembering people… but it doesn’t work at all. That was when Swann declared her love for Bond after knowing him for 36 hours. So he says, “I could never forget your face,” even though he just met her 36 hours ago.
- And Blofeld’s lair is lame.
- And I know no one likes Quantum of Solace, but Spectre basically renders it obsolete (or directly copies it) because Quantum was supposed to be the major villain organization of the new era, but they got the rights to Spectre back so they went with that, so what was Quantum, and if Quantum was part of Spectre why was it called Quantum?
- Also on the villains side, Dave Bautista is totally wasted as a henchman named Mr. Hinx who doesn’t talk, for no real reason. You know how classic Bond villains would have some quirky trait, like Odd Jobs’s hat and Jaws’s jaws? Mr. Hinx (which is a fun name but I honestly don’t remember anyone ever calling him that) has metal (?) thumbnails, which he uses to gouge a guy’s eyes out once.
Overall: This is officially the 749,038th disappointed review of Spectre so I don’t need to go on and on. The fact of the matter is it’s a major step backward from Skyfall, which was a major step forward from Quantum of Solace, which was a major step backward from Casino Royale. I’d say it’s very apt to put Spectre right on par with Quantum of Solace. In fact, they’re damn near the same movie. I didn’t really hate it, just like QoS, it does have its entertainment value, but I was expecting so much more after Skyfall. However, hopefully this up and down pattern continues, so the next 007 movie will be awesome. Bottom line, if you want a better spy action flick this year, I’d definitely recommend Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation over Spectre, or just rent the classic 007 adventure On the Ayatollah’s Command.
Score: 6.5 agents on their own and/or gone rogue (out of 10)