I was 7 years old the first time I watched a James Bond film and despite the absurdity of, well, everything, I was captivated by the exciting world of 007. Fast forward 20 years and I am still a huge fan. After months of pining for its release, Spectre was finally here so Mr à La mode and I trekked up to the local cinema for the midnight showing.
Spectre opens at a Day of the Dead celebration, somewhere in Mexico. The set and locations were stunning and the action scenes, as usual, OTT. Based on the first 15 minutes, I had high hopes for this film. The intro song and accompanying visuals were good, not as spectacular to watch as say Skyfall, but still a work of art in itself. This was pretty much the best part of the 148 minute run time. Other than any scene with Q (Ben Wishaw), because let’s face it, he’s a posh Maurice Moss.
I’m aware a lot of people haven’t yet seen it, so I wouldn’t like to give much of the plot away. Basically, the film revolves around a corporate takeover at HQ which puts the 00 Program into jeopardy, a typical villain who is supposedly the reason for the hijinks in all four of the Daniel Craig Bond films and our leading man gets himself a new girlfriend. There’s even a not-so-subtle throwback to the spy car of yesteryear. It was so typically “Bond” that its almost as if the writers have gone back in time. It was very 90s and that in itself is almost an insult to the consumer. We want progress, we want something new. We may be living through the decade of the remake but the audience is crying out for something more.
The plot itself is riddled with holes. None of it actually makes much sense and the explanation offered for Blofeld’s indiscretions is, for lack of a better word, crap. It feels like they had to tie off the films with something to move onto the next plot, and so they picked a basic reason that might have worked years ago, when Fleming started his books, but in 2015 it doesn’t work. It’s also about half an hour too long. The editors could have left out a rather large section of the story line and everything would still have made just about as much sense (and we wouldn’t have had to sit through it).
The biggest let down of the entire production was that they didn’t utilize Christoph Waltz as much as they could have done. This charming, talented and terrifying actor could have brought some serious depth to Blofeld, but instead was given minimal screen time (which in hindsight, is probably the point) and the character itself is flat, he has no real personality other than his hatred for Bond. Waltz has such a huge screen presence that it seemed silly not to take advantage of it.
On the subject of two dimensional characters, the usual Bond Girl offered little more than a pretty face. Lucia Sciarra (Monica Belluci) was around for less than 5 minutes and to be honest, it was a complete waste of time.
That brings me to the character that truly, truly annoyed me. Madeline Swann was played by the absolutely stunning and talented Léa Seydoux. If you decide to watch anything with her on the cast list, please choose Blue is the Warmest Colour because Spectre hasn’t done her any favours. If you’re looking for a film in which the female lead has no real purpose but to swoon into the protagonists arms, speaks, but only about how she can help the object of her affections, gets kidnapped at every single opportunity, has no unique thoughts of her own and is nothing but an empty headed plot device, then this is for you. They try and fail miserably in making her interesting. I long for the days of Vesper and M. At the very least they were powerful, they had minds of their own and were much more complicated than Spectre’s feeble offerings.
Daniel Craig was noteworthy as our leading man, but I much prefer my Bond damaged and broody. Or Sean Connery.
Please believe me when I say that I didn’t hate this film. It’s not a terrible film. Its just not that good.
Spectre was accompanied by a cinema-sized tub of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.