reviewed by Tom-Tom
The stage had been set. We had three films to qualify Daniel Craig as Bond. The tone had changed from wild use of superfluous gadgetry and cocky one liners after dispatching various minions to a visceral, real world spy who was flawed, and scarred by loves lost (Casino Royale)and physically by gunshots (Skyfall). Finally we got Q and Moneypenny after an entire film dedicated to qualifying their considerable skills in addition to Bond’s. Now we get Spectre, which was supposed to do the same for every villain we’ve seen since Casino Royale. A sort of anti-Avengers coming together of evil geniuses. And…it falls flat.
It shouldn’t have, though. There’s an extravagant opening sequence taking place in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead with folks dressed up in lavish ghoulish yet fancy attire for the occasion. It reminded me somewhat of good ol’ Baron Samedi from Live and Let Die and not a little of Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride. A shootout, explosion and chase to a thrilling in-helicopter battle really starts the film out right. The opening titles are less impressive with the high pitched voice of Sam Smith (either you like him or you don’t) singing over a stern, creepy octopus creeping around various scenes of the film we’re about to see. Its tentacles find their way around the delicate zones of naked women redolent of lower tier Japanese manga of the 1980’s.
The scenes are all beautiful shot and filmed with sweeping panning vistas of various world climates. The chase scenes are exciting and there is decent enough suspense. The problem must be in the direction and script. Q, so laconic, and inscrutable in Skyfall is a pathetic go-fer left holding the bag for Bond’s antics. Moneypenny merely delivers messages and takes 007’s calls. Even the ever great Waltz seems miscast, a bit too affable for the leader of an international ring of crime for all the shadowed build up. Dave Bautista plays the newest in a series of big, strong, silent, and deadly henchmen who qualifies his strength by blinding and beating an unarmed suited man to death in an unimpressive show at the meeting of Spectre. Give me a Doctor Evil style push button electric chair any day.
Everyone looks bored and unconcerned, as if this is the 100th take and they just want the scene to be over. Craig’s jaw is constantly jutting out and he looks like he is chewing on the inside of his cheeks. No charming one liners, just passing time and unfulfilled expectations.
I enjoyed the nods to previous films like the psychiatric care center at the top of a snowy mountain (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and the hand-to-hand combat in the narrow confines of a moving train (From Russia with Love, Live and Let Die) and I even liked the somewhat contrived way they tried to string all the events of previous films into a complete tapestry but the mid to late scenes lack steam and genuine, real characters which is a break from the realistic and careful development we have heretofore seen making the finale lackluster rather than exciting.