I preface my review by saying that the opening scene of 'Spectre' in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead celebration is absolutely spectacular. It's also done in a single take and it's breathtaking. It made me want to dress up in costume and go to a Day of the Dead parade. The only thing this film has going for it are the exotic locations. Similar to other Bond films, the locations are absolutely gorgeous. However, beautiful locations without a developed storyline do not make a good movie. The reason 'Skyfall' was well received was because it had a decent storyline, along with incredible visuals, a great song, and stunning scenery. I wish I could say the same for 'Spectre.'
James Bond (Daniel Craig) is in disguise with a beautiful woman on his arm (of course). He's attempting to stop a terrorist attack without the support of his spy agency MI6. Sadly this is your only taste of a decent scene. After the credits roll the film goes downhill with each passing scene. Back in London, M (Ralph Fiennes) reads Bond the riot act and attempts to reign him in. M is in the midst of a power struggle and a merger between MI6 and MI5. MI5 is headed up by newbie C (Andrew Scott) who thinks that drones and surveillance have rendered the "Double O" program obsolete.
It's not like we haven't heard this one before? I think we have even seen this subplot in a Bond film before if I'm not mistaken? This is the crux of the plot--technology replacing the human element. The "fear of technology" storyline has only been around since the invention of the wheel. Who needs fresh and original? Once Bond is dismissed (again...it's not like that hasn't happened before) he continues his own personal mission.
Money Penny (Naomi Harris) knows Bond is unto something. It's here that he confides in her that he's following the former M's (Judi Dench) orders before she died. He needs to follow the primrose path to Rome to meet with Lucia, the terrorist's hot widow (Monica Bellucci). This is another sticking point I have with 'Spectre.' A lot of hubbub was made about the casting of Bellucci because she's an "age appropriate" Bond girl. It was as if the makers of the franchise were trying to say, "hey look we're not sexist! Bring your date to see our crappy movie!"
Yeah, ok. Then why was Monica Bellucci (the sexist woman alive...IMO) in 'Spectre' for a total of two minutes, one of which was on her back? This film is frustratingly long, running at an excruciating 2-1/2 hours. Why then was Bellucci given so little screentime? Bellucci serves no purpose except as a sex toy. That should hardly be surprising in a Bond film, but considering the hoopla they gave Bellucci it was unexpected and much too fast. I know this is a fictional film and yes I know this is a Bond film, which means it's flamboyant and over the top. But even Bond films should make sense. Why would a woman who just lost her husband have sex with a complete stranger in the span of 5 minutes? No offense to Daniel Craig (as I think Craig is an attractive man), but if a normal (and mostly sane woman) had sex with a complete stranger, he'd certainly have to be better looking than Craig is. It's insane even for a Bond film.
Moving on, Bond goes on to see a familiar enemy, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) who has been in previous Bond films 'Casino Royale' and 'Quantum of Solace.' Mr. White is an old and dying assassin who entrusts Bond with the care of his daughter Dr. Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). What a fun way to introduce a new love interest-- a woman half Bond's age. Supposedly Dr. Swan knows enough about her father's past to lead Bond to Spectre...the international terrorist organization that has been the real force behind all of the nastiness in the previous films. We get to see brief flashbacks of all of the previous villains of the other Bond films: Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene), and Silva (Javier Bardeem). It feels like director Sam Mendes and the makers of Bond are laying it on thick that this will be Craig's last Bond film. If that's the case, then this is really sad because this is not the film to go out on.
Bond and Dr. Swann continue down the rabbit hole in an effort to root out Spectre. There's the old familiar Elizabeth Bennett/Mr. Darcy tension of "will they or won't they?" This particular storyline has only been around for a couple hundred years. Needless to say, Dr. Swann falls into the sway of the charismatic James Bond. There's even a nod to Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) from 'Casino Royale' with an elegant dinner scene on a train between Bond and Dr. Swann. Despite international assassins being on their tail, they both manage to dress to the nines and drink dirty martinis in the train dining car. Clearly I've been in the wrong type of train cars. I'm sorry to say that there was more sexiness in the flash of Rebecca Ferguson's legs in 'Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation' than in this entire film.
A brutal assassin, Hinx (Dave Bautista) interrupts this romantic interlude in the film's best and most savage fight scene. Bond is thrown through train walls and nearly thrown from the train himself. For some reason neither the train conductor nor passengers seem to notice Bond being beat to a bloody pulp or the train being destroyed. After taking such a merciless beating what does Bond want to do? Have sex with Dr. Swann of course. Please don't get me wrong. I don't mind the idea that James Bond is a ladies man or a lothario. That is par for the course. My issue is the ridiculousness of the plot. The writers really fell down on the job in this film. My previous least favorite film in the Craig/Bond franchise, 'Quantum of Solace' looks like a freaking masterpiece in comparison to 'Spectre.'
Perhaps the worst part of 'Spectre' is the villain. Who exactly is the villain in this film? Well...the villain is Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Oh but wait it's C the head of MI5...no...it's Hinx. That's the biggest issue in this film. Everyone is a villain! There is no clear villain like 'Skyfall' or 'Casino Royale.' So what is Oberhauser's relationship with Bond you ask? This was a real mind bender--not in a good way. The writer who came up with this twist should be forced to watch movies with my dad. My dad is one of those annoying people who talks during movies (among other things). For him movie watching is an interactive experience with discussion, popcorn, loud chewing, and a cell phone with an obnoxious ringtone.
Oberhauser is the son of the Bond family's caretaker. I assume he is referring to Albert Finney's (Kincade) character from 'Skyfall.' Oberhauser gives Bond a metaphorical example of the cukoo bird. Cukoo birds are known to lay eggs in other bird's nests. The newly born cukoo birds then kill the mama bird's real babies. So supposedly Bond is a cukoo bird and Oberhauser is a smashed egg. Another thing that makes no sense is how Bond doesn't appear to recognize Oberhauser. You would think that they would have come into contact at some point or Bond would have seen a photo or something. I don't know and I didn't care at this point. I would rather smear poop on my walls than analyze this film too deeply.
Bond and Dr. Swann escape to London to help M, Q (Ben Whishaw), Money Penny, and Tanner (Rory Kinnear) take down "Skynet." Ooops I mean, the Spectre computer program. You know the intrusive surveillance program that is supposedly going to replace people. It's in London that we learn that somewhere between the train scene and the end of the film Bond has fallen madly in love with Dr. Swann. Oberhauser says it will take the daughter of an assassin to truly understand him. I liked the fact that Bond developed deep feelings for a woman. It's a nice break from his playboy ways. I enjoyed Bond's relationship with Vesper in 'Casino Royale,' but the love story in 'Spectre' is so contrived and preposterous...even for a Bond film.
Despite all of 'Spectre's faults. Perhaps the film's worst flaw is that it's BORING. Considering the quality of this franchise it is extremely rare to see a Bond film this bad. I seriously could have fallen asleep during this film if my father and movie partner wasn't keeping me alert with occasional farts during quiet scenes, spitting popcorn kernels out his mouth, yelling at the screen to "shoot out the tires,!" or balling up napkins and tossing them across the floor. Thankfully we sit so close to the screen that no one was in front of us. Whew. So it's fair to say that I really didn't like this film. Since I frequently see films with my dad I don't think it was his fault.
TWO OUT OF FIVE STARS
TWO OUT OF FIVE STARS