“You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond.”
Sam Mendes did a fantastic job sitting in the director’s chair for Bond’s previous movie, Skyfall, so expectations were really high for what he could deliver in his follow up: Spectre. If there is something that Daniel Craig has brought to the franchise is that he has turned Bond into a serious character from the start. Casino Royale is still my favorite Bond film, but I’ve enjoyed all of his films, which wasn’t the case when Pierce Brosnan was playing the titular role. After the success of Skyfall it would be impossible to live up to the expectations Mendes had built with his now demanding crowd, so it is only normal that Spectre feels like an average spy thriller. The film still continues to look gorgeous, but the story did lack some originality and for that it feels predictable and familiar. Spectre also has pacing issues, but I’d say the main problem is that we’ve seen better spy films released this year. Mission Impossible raised the bar in its action sequences, while Spy was a comedy action film that barely missed a beat. If Spectre would’ve come out any other year it might have been a bit more interesting, but after the fresh success of both those films I felt like this was a letdown. As much as I love Craig as Bond, he didn’t have much to work with here and the villains didn’t present much of a threat either. Spectre has the look and feel of the rest of Bond films, but it fails to entertain or bring anything new to the table. Out of the four films Craig has played Bond this is probably the most formulaic one.
Spectre opens with a rather impressive sequence in Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebration, which was a perfect opportunity for the marketing campaign to include the cool looking skeletons in the posters and the trailers. Bond (Daniel Craig) follows a gorgeous women through the crowded streets of Mexico during the parade to her hotel room, kisses her and walks out to the balcony saying he’ll be right back. That is when we realize he’s actually on a mission and a series of gunshots, explosions, and chases ensue. It was a great opening sequence but the film failed to build up the momentum from then on. What we get next is what we’ve seen before, Bond arrives in London and is suspended by M (now played by Ralph Fiennes) for causing so much caos without being authorized to actually be in Mexico. Bond is working on his own because he doesn’t know who he can trust after the previous M left him a secret message before being murdered. Her message is what led him to Mexico in the first place and then to Rome where he discovers a secret organization responsible for several terrorist attacks that is led by a man named Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). Blofeld discovers Bond and sends his assistant, Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) to try to stop him. In order to uncover what this secret organization is all about, Bond enlists the help of the daughter of one of its former members, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). Naomi Harris and Ben Whishaw are also back playing the roles of Moneypenny and Q respectively.
Spectre is a little over two hours long and the pacing really doesn’t help the film either. You can feel it take its toll because the action sequences are far from being impressive and the plot is predictable. As cool as Craig is playing Bond, we’ve seen him do it so many times that we need more now. Waltz is a talented actor, but he seems to excel only when working with Tarantino. Here he doesn’t get much to do really and at times his character seems a bit cartoonish. Bautista is menacing, but he says one word in the entire film. Lea Seydoux is the Bond girl and she looks great, but there isn’t much more she can do to add to the story. Spectre isn’t a bad film, but the success of Skyfall raised the bar and left us a much more demanding audience. I think the major issue here was the screenplay which felt rather weak and bland. There is some fun to be had with the movie, but it ends up being forgettable in the end with a rather unsatisfying climax. Spectre has its moments but it is just too dull when compared to the other Bond films.