Spectre
Acting
Directing
Cinematography
Script
Timeless
The Good
  • Loud, beautiful and fun action spectacle
  • Nice farewell to Daniel Craig’s 007
The Bad
  • Sam Mendes can’t keep with his own work
  • Pretty poor script which keeps going on for way too long
  • Had so much more potential
2.5Overall Score

There we were again, a couple of years since the eventful 50th anniversary of 007 have passed and it was time for another run in the franchise. To get myself and (mostly) my wife in the mood for this week’s movie adventure, we rewatched Skyfall – which in hindsight may have been a mistake. In sum, I thought this 007 installment was merely ok and I think we can take a few lessons from this movie.

Lesson # 1 : Daniel Craig is not a funny Bond

In 2006 after the departure of Pierce Brosnan it was decided to take the franchise into a new direction and make Bond more contemporary and give him a more serious touch. The (at that point) rather unknown Daniel Craig was given the task to redefine the character and move him away from the Pierce Brosnan’s and Roger Moore’s; at first I was skeptical, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions the franchise could have made. They made Bond a more realistic, more vulnerable and more serious character. And Daniel Craig perfectly fit that role, he was grim yet charming and rough around the edges – over the past few Bond movies, I have gotten very accustomed to this new type of Bond. And for some inexplicable reason somebody must have felt the need to give Craig a more goofy Bond who cracks wiseass comments, sleeps with the women before actually asking for their names and is being sent into retirement while still kicking major ass (well that was actually kind of cool). During the movie, I had way too many moments when I made that “pfff”-noise because it was more ridiculous than it was funny.

Lesson # 2: Don’t use the same director twice in a row

I do still remember seeing Skyfall in the theater a couple of years back in the good ol’ Somerville theater – it was a movie which literally did everything right (except getting Sean Connery out of his retirement for a cameo role). Sam Mendes – up until that point not known as an action expert – hit all the right tones. It had great action, a meaningful and amazing villain with Javier Bardem and the right amount of nostalgia towards the Bond classics (SPOILER FOR SKYFALL: think of the purely professional relationship with Moneypenny, his Aston Martin and the appropriate score as well as getting back to the roots with M) – and it became even more evident to me when rewatching it the other day. Sam Mendes basically had an impossible mission and he accepted it – he needed to make a better than perfect James Bond movie to follow up his unbelievable success and unfortunately I have to report that he failed. Spectre has all the ingredients of a good action movie; it is loud, it is big, it is beautiful and it has a good amount of humor (sometimes borderline ridiculous). But to stay with the cooking metaphor – lots of good spices do not automatically make a good sauce.

Lesson # 3: Script, Script, Script

daniel-craig-in-spectre-1940x1293In a Bond movie, the main investments will typically go into great cinematography, loud action, perfect style and good suits. But even a Bond movie needs a script at least at baseline quality. And during the movie, I mostly felt that the script was just thrown together to make the different big action scenes have a connection. The dialogue was borderline ridiculous at times (something you would expect in a Naked Gun movie) and especially in the context of the recent Bond movies, this just felt out of place. From a storytelling perspective, this movie really reminded me of the 80s and 90s Bond movies where 007 always followed the exact same formula

  • Massive opening with crazy shootout and/or chase
  • Bond getting his ass handed to him by his superior and/or given a really dangerous mission
  • On the beginning of his mission he meets Bond girl No.1 and has sex with her right away
  • Bond getting in trouble and/or being captured
  • Meanwhile he meets Bond girl No.2 – who he really wants to be serious with (and well …)

There is nothing wrong per se with this particular formula, it has worked for merely 50 years now. And this is probably coming back to Lesson #1 – but in some of the 007 movies, he at least had to do something and/or be charming to get Bond girl No.1 into the sack. His first conquest in this movie was just so darn ridiculous that all I could do was to “pfff” as loud as humanly possible in the theater – you will probably know what I mean once you see it. Having said all that, it is possible that the team wanted to give hommage to the very Bond movies in the 80s which made the franchise the success it still is – meaning making it somewhat intentionally ridiculous.

Lesson # 4: Christoph Waltz’s waste of time

To start this lesson off – Christoph Waltz is awesome. I love him, Hollywood loves him and because he is so darn successful, I will claim him to be kind of German (despite him actually being Austrian, but potato – patata). After Tarantino has basically made him his new Samuel L. Jackson, the academy has praised him with two golden boys – and he is doing what every smart actor would do: capitalize. When I learned that he will be the villain in the new Bond movie, I was super excited; he will be evil, he will be psychotic and he will give 007 a run for his money – if he would actually show up. Waltz’s performance is actually pretty good in the few minutes of airtime he gets in Spectre – and that Ladies and Gentlemen is just a bummer. Having said that, his appearance has a great twist (which I now can proudly claim to have known right from the get-go). So as THE Bond villain of all villains, I felt that his presence was completely underutilized. Instead, the biggest villain airtime was given to us by a hybrid version Jaws (without iron teeth) and the Mountain from Game of Thrones.

Now all this reads as if I absolutely hated the movie, but that is not necessarily the case. Spectre was an entertaining, loud and funny action spectacle which kept me mostly entertained – however when a Bond movie of that massive scale hits the theaters, I don’t want to see something which kind of entertains me and makes me chuckle – I want to be wow’ed the same as I was with Casino Royale and Skyfall. And the movie did not even come close to these two – so maybe it is good that with Bond 25 we are pumping some fresh blood into the franchise (PS: my vote goes to Idris Elba).

Info

spectre_xlg

  • Running time: 148 min
  • Genre: Action, Thriller
  • Year: 2015

 

One Response

  1. stephen

    Great review as always!

    I also felt that Waltz was underutilized in terms of screen time, script and character. Bardem was so damn good in skyfall, and Waltz was a bit of a missed opportunity this time around. His character felt too familiar to be exciting.

    Still very much enjoyed it though – personally I never liked the Brosnan version of 007 except Goldeneye, whereas Daniel Craig made Bond “cool” for me again!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.