Director : Sam Mendes
Writer : John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Stars : Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes
Release year : 2015 (imdb)
I watched Spectre, and frankly, I was underwhelmed.
The movie takes place right after the events of Skyfall (M is dead and MI6’s HQ is reduced). The opening sequence is set in Mexico City, where 007 stalks, fights and kills an Italian criminal (Marco Sciarra), stealing his ring and wrecking havoc in the place. This forces the new M (Mallory played by Ralph Fiennes) to suspend 007. Flouting M’s direct order, Bond travels to Rome to attend Sciarra’s funeral, where the assassin’s widow informs him about the criminal organization Spectre. And the nonsense begins.
Don’t get me wrong. When I’m about to watch a new Bond movie, I don’t just suspend my disbelief, I wrap it in a plastic bag, suffocate it and burry it six feet under. This just wasn’t enough with Spectre.
Back when Casino Royale was released, Daniel Craig’s looks and acting style were fresh, no back-story was provided about the new 007 (which is perfect for a spy character), the romance between him and Vesper Lynd was convincing and the villain was a believable character. Then comes Quantum of Solace with its mediocre plot, messy editing and generic characters, trying a bit too much to continue the same overarching storyline. That’s why Skyfall seemed a great movie, while it’s only a return to form and an attempt to recover from the staggering mess of the previous instalment. But the forth feature of Daniel Craig’s James Bond pushes the envelope way too much dragging the story arc and the character to the point of exhaustion.
The plot is absurd and childish: Spectre is behind the entire world’s disasters. All the villains from previous movies are directly connected if not agents of Spectre, under the machiavellic and ruthless rule of Franz Oberhauser who just happens to be James Bond’s step-brother or whatnot (how convenient). And there is a subplot about a merger between MI5 and MI6, shamelessly ripping-off Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
I know, many of you think Daniel Craig is arguably the best of all 007s, but he’s getting old and slightly out of shape, his character is purposeless and without a motivation. Christopher Waltz plays a Hans Landa-like villain (again!). Léa Seydoux’s Madelaine Swann is stiff and incomprehensible (quickly falling in love with 007 only to create a ridiculous resolution), delivering some of the movie’s worst lines, thus missing the opportunity of international stardom. And Monica Bellucci’s character is only seen in two seen (how dare you Sam Mendes?)
The cinematography is fine, but the pacing is slow and disengaging. And the direction is generic and without signature.
Perhaps the only memorable thing about Spectre is its opening sequence, very well done and very well choreographed.
I wanted to like this movie. I hoped it would be the grand closure we deserve. But even by 007 standard, it wasn’t.