Casino Royale, Christopher Waltz, Cinema, Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, Django, Film, Guardians of the Galaxy, James Bond, Jesper Christensen, Lea Seydoux, Madeleine Swann, Movie Review, Sam Mendes, Skyfall, Spectre, Wrestling
“Spectre” is an amalgamation of everything that James Bond films are known for. Sex, spectacle, and a whole lot of luck. Daniel Craig’s Bond is certainly capable of pulling off some pretty cool stunts, and the action set pieces found in “Spectre” are impressive, but his success as the world’s most sexually active spy feels a lot more down to coincidence than to careful planning.
The best thing about “Spectre”, in my opinion, is its high production values, which are complemented wonderfully by Sam Mendes’ confident and capable direction. Mendes knows exactly what the series is about, and he plays to its tropes in a very assured manner, with the action being well shot and much more interesting than the slightly thin plot. If you like what the Bond films are about, and you don’t want to see a new take on the character, I think you will be happy enough with this movie – it isn’t perfect or ground-breaking, but it’s everything you’d expect to see going in.
However, from a personal perspective I’m not a massive fan of the series, which I think is important to know before reading my thoughts on the film. The last Bond film that I actually enjoyed was “Casino Royale”, and the reason behind that was that it felt fresh and new. This film doesn’t have that freshness, which for me makes it far less compelling than it could be, particularly because I find the overly sexual nature of Bond incredibly dull; he’s an arrogant womaniser, so I can’t possibly route for him.
My biggest issue with the film is that none of the characters that were introduced into the series felt important or sufficiently developed, particularly Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), who was given a place of honour as a Bond girl who didn’t die before the end, yet lacked depth or personality. It seems like Swann has a place in the series moving forward as a recurring love interest for Bond, yet she isn’t half as interesting as some of the women that have come before her. The actress didn’t particularly sell me as someone with a fire in her belly, even though she seemed to require it as the daughter of Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), and she ended up being extremely dull as a result. There just wasn’t a lot to her, and why she would fall for Bond remains a mystery to me.
The casting of the villains for “Spectre” looked like a stroke of genius before the film came out, because Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista fit their roles brilliantly. Waltz is more than quirky enough to pull of the criminal mastermind Bond villain, and as a former wrestler and general beast, Bautista could play a henchman in his sleep. However, the way that the film was formulated restricted what the pair were able to do, because neither character was given the screen time that they needed to have real gravitas and presence.
Waltz was sufficiently off-kilter and sinister, but his character was clumsily connected to Bond through a backstory that it was very hard to care about, and his fantastic on screen sense of humour was stifled by unambitious writing. Almost everything he said was for the sake of exposition, and I didn’t feel that he and Daniel Craig had any real chemistry.
Bautista was far superior to Craig physically, which is saying a lot, and he looked very powerful when he was on screen. Nevertheless, his character was cartoonish and had barely any dialogue to deliver, meaning that it was very hard to take him seriously. On top of that, the fight scenes that he was involved in were overly elaborate, which meant that he couldn’t excel at what he is good at. Furthermore, his motivations were completely ignored, so as an audience we had no real idea as to why he would want to find and kill Bond. He was just a bad guy, and that was that. I think he could’ve been a fun villain, but he was relegated to a bit-part player, and the majority of the time he spent on screen took place behind the wheel during two overly long and pointless chase sequences.
In my opinion, “Spectre” is a boring and unoriginal addition to the Bond series. It doesn’t offer anything new and it isn’t actually that entertaining because you never believe that any of the characters are in real danger. Still, if you like Bond films then I believe that most of the issues I’ve brought up won’t bother you, and you’ll enjoy the movie, because there’s nothing here that isn’t in every other film of this ilk. The movie is centred on Bond and the action, which is what a lot of people want, so I’m not saying that “Spectre” completely misses the mark. I maintain that no matter what your opinion is of this movie, it could be so much more, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t like it – it’s just one of many reasons why I don’t. I’m waiting for a Bond film that will reinvent the series and give it a new lease of life, but sadly “Spectre” isn’t it.