After more than 50 years the Bond series has proven it knows how to reinvent themselves every so now and then preventing it from becoming outdated. Mostly the choice for a new lead as James Bond signals the beginning of a new era. With Daniel Craig James Bond went from becoming a charming, smirking double agent to a more serious and gritty one. Casino Royale was to Die Another Day what Batman Begins was to Batman & Robin. It was the beginning of set of movies with little room for humor in the scripts and now with Spectre we have reached the moment the series once again needs a new approach and a new lead.
The problem with the Daniel Craig movies is that, aside from Casino Royale, they are all instantly forgettable. The only thing I remember from Quantum of Solace was that it featured that Russian model/actress as the Bond Girl and Skyfall has the one with the hit song by Adele and a gay villain. Time will tell how much of Spectre will remain in my memory. My guess: not much.
Being forgettable should be no problem at first glance when you consider the Bond movies mostly stood on themselves. Spectre tries to be an immediate sequel to the previous movies bringing in characters like a Mr. White who as you might, or in my case might not, recall from Quantum of Solace. While it’s a bold move trying to create some overlapping epic story line by trying to tie all the previous movies together, but it requires knowledge of supporting characters who played roles in movies that were released between 3 and 10 years ago. Only Bond fans will truly enjoy this “epic” plot-line.
The plot of Spectre is pretty thin actually. It’s all about James Bond going across the globe chasing down leads until he finds out about a certain organization run by a certain man. Since the title is the name of the organization, there’s no surprise revelation or twist to be found in the movie itself. Spectre was a recurring organization during the Sean Connery/George Lazenby years and it provided some iconic moments. Mike Meyers’ Dr. Evil has been based 100% on Donald Pleasance’s Blofeld performance. Here Blofeld is played Christoph Waltz who has shown us that given the right material he can play an excellent villain. Sadly, that material is nowhere to be found and he is probably one of the blandest villains of the entire franchise. Not even a family connection to James himself can change that.
Speaking of Bland villains. Wrestler and Guardian of the Galaxy Dave Bautista plays his main henchman Mr. Minx. A mainly silent character without any charisma. The Bond series has given us so many worthy and memorable adversaries for Bond, each with their own unique ‘talent’: Oddjob, Jaws and Xenia Onatopp to name a few. The only traits Mr. Minx has, is that he can snap a guy’s neck and is able to survive being thrown from a train.
There’s also a character named C in MI6 played by Andrew Scott. He wants to shut down the 00-program and rely on a superior surveillance device being able to track every form of communication at all time, something which he helped develop. He’s played by Andrew Scott, who’s mostly famous for portraying Moriarty opposite to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. It should come to nobody’s surprise that a guy looking like a villain might have ulterior motivations and that his allegiance might or might not be to the crown.
With Q in the picture one might at least expect some cool gadgets at least right? Wrong.
While James drives a car equipped with some gadgets, they either don’t work or we’ve seen them before. At one point he is given a watch by Q for pure product placement purposes, but aside from telling the time all it can do is blow up.
The final element making a Bond movie a Bond movie are the Bond-girls. Much was made about Monica Belucci being the oldest Bond girl ever at 51 years old. While she truly looks stunning considering her age, her total amount of screen time will add up to about 5 minutes or so. Léa Seydoux is the main Bond girl but while the movie tries really hard to make her mean something to James Bond, it doesn’t really work. After Diana Rigg’s Tracy and Vesper Lind the audience is well aware that a relationship for James Bond will never be, so hinting at one is like asking us to invest in like an obvious Ponzi scheme. She won’t be back in the next movie, so who are we kidding?
There once was a time that action movies ran for 130 minutes tops and even those were exceptions. But over the past few years two trends have emerged: 3D and longer running times. Both are reasons for increasing the price of a movie ticket which is one of the reasons several big movies reached the $1 billion dollar mark so fast. Sadly this results in movies that are way too overlong for the sole reason of raising the admissions price. Spectre’s running time of almost 2,5 hours is far too long, making the movie overstay its welcome pretty fast with drawn out scenes which hardly serve the plot.
There are a few nicely done action scenes of which some feel very familiar. The crashing of a plane through a barn resembles that of the tank crashing through a bridge in St. Petersburg in Goldeneye. Sadly the scenes never feel truly exciting, and only serve to mask the lack of plot.
Maybe the time has come to rename the character:
Boring, James Boring.