Spectre (2015) – Sam Mendes

 

The new James Bond film opens today, with Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as Ian Fleming’s special agent, 007. And as an avid Bond fan, I had to be there. So what did I think?

Gorgeous locations… check. Beautiful women… check (though Monica Bellucci is extremely under-used, as well as Naomi Harris’ Moneypenny). Style… check. Good story idea… check. The occasional gadget provided by Q (Ben Whishaw)… check.

Sense of fun… must be here somewhere… No, it seems someone forgot to pack it.

Spectre comes off as more somber than any of the previous Craig films and while there are obvious nods, to many, many, many previous adventures, this one ended up feeling a little lackluster. Not to mention some really poor story ideas when it comes to character revelations – suffice to say that the personal secrets that are revealed don’t enhance the story, they actually make it seem trite, and weren’t needed.

I do like that this film serves as a wrap-up of the plot threads from the previous three films, showing that all the events of the Casino, Quantum, and Skyfall all led to this moment. And the idea of security services and surveillance around the globe work to join forces in an unelected global power, great story idea, especially with all the talk on the subject. In fact it’s perfect subject matter for a Bond film, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

Another thing that annoys me is that once again, Bond has gone rogue. Remember when M (Ralph Fiennes) gave him his assignments, and he had the resources of MI6 behind him?

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Don’t get me wrong, I like my Bond adventures to have a serious tone to it, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Outside of the Austrian sequence, which showed a glimmer of hope in the fun department, at no point was I truly invested in the film. I was afraid the personal reveal was going to be exactly what I thought it was, and I was still reeling from having to sit through the Sam Smith song (worst. theme. ever.) and I don’t know what happened to Daniel Kleinman’s work for the opening credits, but this one was terrible…

Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser doesn’t get a chance to exude any real menace before being turned into an almost paper-thin characterization of a familiar name. Bellucci is wasted, and Lea Seydoux, while stunning, is nothing more than beautiful arm candy, and doesn’t get a chance to truly prove she’s Bond’s equal or that either of them are worthy of the other’s attention.

I thought the action beats were too few and far between, and they didn’t come across as tense at all (and I swear some of them were even out of focus). I will say that they looked great, the whole film looks great, but gorgeous locations are part and parcel of a Bond film, and there are tons of them in this outing.

But it just didn’t engage. Oh, and if you’re going to cast Moriarty, sorry, Andrew Scott, then let him do something else, putting him in the role of C simply telegraphed that he would be revealed to be a baddie. They should have played against type there, but they seemingly catered and embraced it.

Consequently, no surprises, no shocks, no fun. (God that hurts to say about a Bond film…)

I don’t think Bond’s time at the cinema is done, I think this just ended up being a deeply flawed story, that could have been something more, like a Bond film.

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