Daniel Craig’s fourth and Sam Mendes’ second Bond film just recently hit the theaters and I somehow found the time to go see it. I’m not the biggest Bond fan in the world, but I enjoy the series, at least the Connery and Craig’s eras, and I’ll even defend the Timothy Dalton Bond’s. So I was relatively interested in seeing this, after all I think Mendes can be a wonderful director, at least a very good technical one. And Craig’s era has been mostly fantastic, so is Spectre as good as Casino Royal or Skyfall? No. But it’s better than Quantum of Solace at least. But then again, that’s not very high praise. Since it’s a Bond film and there isn’t a huge chunk of interesting things to talk about, so I’m just going to take the lazy mans route and talk about the good things and the bad things.
Daniel Craig returns as our favorite secret agent and he’s great as usual. Craig has really nailed the character, made it more complex and while having a bit of Connery and Brosnan in him, but still making the character his own. He’s a lot more badass than “cool” and has more of an anti hero vibe to him than previous Bonds. So yeah, he’s good. But Bond isn’t the most complex character, sure they make his self-aware about his drinking problem and his habit of fucking every hot chick on the planet, but still, he’s not a Paul Thomas Anderson character worth analyzing. He’s cool, badass, kickass and doesn’t give a shit about killing anybody.
The opening scene, with the huge tracking shot is very impressive and highly enjoyable. Of course it’s a huge budget Hollywood blockbuster so it’s not that impressive, but still it looked very good and showcased Mendes’ willingness to go the extra mile. Most of the opening sequence is very good, though the helicopter bit was a bit confusing and a bit shaky, the editing was overly fast and way too many close-ups and shaky cam. But everything before that was pretty fantastic.
Everybody’s favorite Austrian actor who hasn’t been a governor, Christoph Waltz plays the lead villain. And he’s not amazing, sadly. But he’s still in the good list, because he’s entertainingly evil in it, even though his character is a tad cheesy. His characters introduction is intense and exciting, though he never achives that level of intimidation, he remains very decent throughout.
The action is good, as you would expect, but some of the set-pieces go on a bit too long for my taste. A bit too many explosions and a bit too many chases, but still enjoyable.
Cinematography was decent, not as stunning as in Skyfall, but still very well shot. Especially the snowy mountain scenes were captured quite beautifully and whenever it cuts to London I love how white and clean everything suddenly becomes, almost to the point of distraction.
My main problem with the film is simple: it’s not original in any way. Skyfall had the sense of wanting to win an Oscar, wanting to be a great film, rather than just another, who-gives-a-fuck Bond. It had an ambition to make something great, that had unique looking and feeling set-pieces and it even slightly poked fun of the old Bonds, at least by turning the tables around by (for example) having a young Q. But Spectre doesn’t want to innovate, it wants to be a typical Bond film, it’s comfortable in that. And while it’s nice to see Mendes really wanting to make a “classic” Bond flick, it goes a bit over with some of the stuff. I’m not going to spoil anything, but there are some very cliche Bond moments we haven’t seen in Craig’s era where all sense of realism is mostly thrown away, sadly.
And that’s my biggest complaint, it doesn’t feel like it wants to do anything interesting, it just wants to be a Bond. Is that a bad thing? No, but I expected a lot more and when you do those cliche things, with a serious feel, it comes off as, well, hack-eyed and tedious.
I was excited to see Dave Bautista in this, mainly because when I was a kid I watched a lot of wrestling and obviously Batista was one of my favorites. And I read in an Empire interview that his character wouldn’t just be brute force, but also intelligent as fuck (Bautista’s words). But, no. He’s a big, dumb chunk of muscle, something we’ve seen a million times in Bond films. And he’s not even as interesting as somebody like Jaws, who, despite being a cheesy as hell character, was really exciting to watch, mainly because he so weird. Bautista is just a piece of very dumb meat. And boy, does his character suck at his job or what.
Two complaints from people have been that the sub-plot about trying to get rid of the 00-program is boring and that Waltz just vanishes from the movie for a very long time. But honestly, I didn’t either of those things. I though the sub-plot was very relevant and fascinating and Waltz disapearing was fine, it was good to keep him in the shadows. I mean, that’s the plot of the movie, Bond trying to find him.
The Bond girl, while attractive enough, had no chemistry with Bond. Sure they work together fine, but really, James, this girl is the one? Really? Why this one? It didn’t make a lot of sense, but fuck it, why not throw a boring “can Bond love” sub-plot into the mix, why don’t we.
But that’s where my problems end, the biggest one is just the un-originality of the film, it doesn’t feel like it wants to do anything special, more like a “fuck, it’ll make money” film. However, they executed it fine. It’s a very entertaining film, filled with witty banter (and some normal exposition dialog, normal to a Bond film), fun action set-pieces and Bond being pretty fucking cool. And the story, while filled with cliche moments, is entertaining enough. I guess I wish they would have went a little bit deeper with it, really showing how the this secret organization works or whatever, but what we got, is fine in my opinion. It’s one of those Bond films that you can skip and you won’t miss much, but if you’re on a Bond marathon, yeah, this ain’t a bad watch. If you’re a Bond fan, you’ve probably already seen this, but if you’re like me and only kinda cares about Bond, I would still recommend this, it’s a decent action film. 7/10