With few options to choose from, we decided on seeing Spectre for our Thanksgiving movie. Yeah, we heard the negative buzz, but the alternative was that or Secret In Their Eyes, which actually gets a lower rating on Rottentomatoes than the latest installment in the Bond franchise. So, is it terrible? No, not terrible, but it is pretty poor.
I’ll preface the review by saying that while I am a big fan of Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond, all four of his movies have been sorely lacking. I never understood any of the positive reviews of Casino Royale or Skyfall, which I felt were every bit as poor as Quantum of Solace.
After a three year gap, Bond returns to face off against a shadowy organization that appears to have been the secret manipulator behind all of Craig’s outings, and that’s an archplot I actually respect. The trouble is, it isn’t done particularly well. The movie plays its hand in a troublesomely obvious way early on when the new Brit-led worldwide intelligence-sharing initiative is introduced. It’s so depressingly clear that the real brains behind it is the Spectre of the title. So that’s one major problem. The other being I didn’t quite understand why this was such a coup for Spectre. I didn’t fully get why all this was such a big deal for these guys, considering they reveal themselves as being a major disruption to worldwide government anti-corruption measures.
I could go on and on about the deficiencies in the storyline, but suffice it to say that there is just so much wrong with this bland and lazy screenplay (it was much despised within Sony, as last year’s email leaks revealed) that an entire how-not-to book could be written about it. Low points include the ridiculous love interest, the criminal misuse of Christoph Waltz as the bad guy (and seriously, who didn’t think Waltz was potentially a terrific Bond villain?), and, unfortunately, Craig himself, who really looks a bit long in the tooth this time out. The action sequences are uninteresting (the first car chase scene is maybe the most boring car chase I’ve ever seen), and the villain’s master plan is effectively destroyed before the end of act 2, leading to a beyond boring “digital countdown” of the real conclusion of that plotline. And for the head of Spectre, Waltz’s character is the absolute least threatening of these four movies, and his spectacularly bad decision making makes his position as Spectre’s leader absolutely unbelievable.
I spent most of the running time wondering how relevant the character of James Bond is today’s world of global, cut price terrorism, and that’s pretty much the throughline of the Craig movies. The answer is, with great writing, VERY relevant. Unfortunately, if this is Craig’s last Bond (and it definitely seems to be), it’s a crappy way to finish his time in the tux.
© Andrew Hope, 2017