James Bond

Movie Review: Spectre

“You’re a kite… dancing in a hurricane Mr. Bond”. Replace “Mr. Bond” with “movie” and you have my views of Spectre, all in one sentence, courtesy of the movie itself. Actually about 25% of this movie’s dialogue can easily be repurposed into describing it. As much fun as that would be, however, I’m afraid I cannot do it as it might take up more space than an actual review.

The second James Bond movie directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), Spectre takes place after the events of Skyfall, also by Mendes. It opens with 007 (Daniel Craig) on a mission in Mexico City to kill a target who, as is tradition, is unknown to the audience while providing a great set piece. This causes trouble back in London where M (Ralph Fiennes) is trying to resist a pressure from C, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), who heads the Joint Intelligence Service, a recent merger of MI5 and MI6. C wants to end the 00 program and replace it with a surveillance system, “Nine Eyes”, combining nine countries’ surveillance agencies resources into one, to be headed up by Denbigh himself.

Okay, I won’t say it here, but I’m pretty sure you’ve figured out what Scott’s character is really planning. It doesn’t help that Scott does a terrible job of hiding it through his performance and the fact of the movie is called “Spectre”, as anyone with small, passing knowledge of Bond lore can easily determine. (It doesn’t help that 007 is one of my favorite franchises of all time.) This attempt to combine Bond with Orwellian philosophy, while admirable and rich with opportunity, is underused.

Besides that, Bond is working to uncover the mystery behind the organization called, you guessed it, Spectre. At one point, he encounters Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the wife of the assassin, Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) Bond killed in Mexico. You might believe this would lead to intriguing interaction between Craig’s and Bellucci’s characters. Wrong. Bond meets Sciarra at her husband’s funeral in Rome, saves her from murder, has sex with her (she didn’t love her husband in the first place), tells her to go meet Felix Leiter (played in the first two Craig films by Jeffrey Wright, but absent here) at the US Embassy, and that’s it. Bellucci has less than 10 minutes of screen time and it’s only to give Bond information he could have easily obtained several other ways. Bellucci could have been cut out of the movie entirely, had her scenes replaced with something else, and nothing would change. This is a waste of a scenario on a silver platter begging to be written into something amazing.

What’s worse is what happens instead. Bond saves the life of Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) from Spectre assassin Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) and after a half hour of showing she hates Bond and being saved again, suddenly they’re genuinely in love. It was already revealed in the trailers they would fall for each other, trying to recapture the chemistry between George Lazenby and Diana Rigg from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the film actually uses a snow mountain resort to have Bond and Swann meet, almost EXACTLY like OHMSS), but I did not believe for one second these two were genuinely in love with each other. I was thinking the whole time “Why isn’t Bellucci the one Bond goes hunting Spectre with?”

Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) is the main villain and appears to have a personal connection with Bond. Not counting Fiennes, Waltz is the best actor in the movie and his performance was great but he is criminally underused and wasted in the role. Without wishing to spoil Oberhauser’s personal connection is revealed and with it a twist in who his character really is. If you couldn’t figure it out just from the name of the movie, then let me be the first to say, welcome to your first James Bond story!

Most of the cast performs excellently (Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris return as Q and Eve Moneypenny respectively) and the music is very enjoyable, even if the orchestra themselves sound bored making the music. I know many hate Sam Smith’s Bond theme Writing’s on the Wall but that hate misses the point of the movie itself to be gritty and sad, which the song captures. It’s not nearly on the same quality level of Goldfinger, Thunderball, or Live and Let Die, but it’s not the worst Bond theme. Has everyone forgotten Madonna’s Die Another Day? (Not that I blame you.)

Many of the same problems I had with Skyfall are not only present here, but in some instances, exacerbated. While I enjoyed Skyfall and no one can deny it is a well-crafted movie, I do not believe it is “the best Bond ever” as many have called it, mostly because Skyfall appeared unwilling to explore the full potential of its ideas. Spectre makes me find a new appreciation for Skyfall however as Spectre does more than just not explore its ideas to their full potential, it has too many ideas. Whereas Skyfall is no doubt enjoyable, Spectre commits the cardinal sin of entertainment, it’s boring. When a movie is boring, rather than just rage-inducing, there’s usually only so much I can talk about without giving away too much of what happens.

After all the build-up the trailers of how this would be an exciting mystery, spy, thriller movie keeping us excited in the way Skyfall did, I cannot help but feel disappointed. Shockingly, this movie had FOUR writers! Returning from Skyfall are John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator), Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (The World is Not Enough, Casino Royale), and joining the crew is Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow, Black Mass). Four writers and this boring mess of a movie is the best they could create? These writers and Mendes can all do better. We’ve seen them do better with other movies. I suppose all that’s left to do is sit back, grab a martini, shaken not stirred, and rewatch some of the classic Bond movies.

 

Image from Hypebeast.com

Written By: Alexander Trovini

Cinephile. Love movies, history, books, video games. Star Wars, 007, Law and Order, Person of Interest, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones, Sonic, Mario, Tom Clancy. Fun-lover.

Comments: 2

  • Cody Enos

    Reply November 8, 20153:45 pm

    The only reason I went to see this movie was to see Dave Bautista, and to my pleasant, or maybe unpleasant, surprise he was the only thing I liked about it. I loved the fact that he never talked, he was a presence that kept getting up no matter how badly damaged he was. Heck, he was more of a threat to Bond than the actual villain! He beats the crap out of the guy, and he “loses” because Bond has luck….I seriously wished they kept him so that he could come back again. Mr. Hinx is not only a great villain name, but he could be a great recurring villain that starts to have respect for Bond because they keep fighting, and maybe one day teams up with him so that Bond will live another day only so Mr. Hinx could be the one to destroy him, not somebody else. Damnit I convinced myself to being a massive Mr. Hinx fan!

    • Alexander Trovini

      Reply November 9, 201512:26 pm

      Yeah I should have written about that. Bautista is probably the best thing about the movie. He reminded me of Jaws. It’s clear he understands the lasting appeal of the 007 franchise. It’s also kind of sad though because there is just enough room here for him to actually be alive and continue fighting Bond over multiple movies but this might be Craig’s last movie. Shame really. Bautista is already one of my favorite actors to play a Bond villain.

      Also the twist with Waltz is pointless because it’s not like it’s anything clever. If you don’t know anything about Bond you wouldn’t understand the significance of the character. If you are already a fan you saw this coming from MILES away.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: