Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux
Director: Sam Mendes
Streaming: Amazon Prime
It’s that horrible time yet again. The time where I watch a film I probably won’t like very much and proceed to pick it apart with the subtlty of a butcher’s cleaver made out of C4.
Well today we take a deep dive into the 2015 Bond film Spectre, notable in the series canon for the re-introduction of a classic villain and being the film that led Daniel Craig to say “I would rather slash my wrists than play Bond again”. After the success of Skyfall, Sam Mendes was persuaded to return to direct for a second time, only this time the directors chair is very much a flea-ridden commode.
You might be getting the impression I don’t like this film very much. Not true. I don’t hate it. But it could be one of the most rank average, overlong, we-better-signpost-the-plot-in-case-the-blind-can’t-see-the-plot-twist-coming film that I have ever seen. I hadn’t watched it in a couple of years before I started this so I thought I knew what to expect.
Look, as ever with the Craig era, we at least get a very good opening swquence as Bond channels the Day of the Dead as he attempts to assassinate a goon before a terrific helicopter stunt leads us into the opening credits — at which point you might as well inject yourself with some Night Nurse and sit on an adult nappy for what is comfortably my least favourite Bond film.
Side-Rant — Bond themes should be one of the following:
- Bombastic, with a vocal that should wake up pets in the surrounding 250m at a play (See Diamonds are Forever, Thunderball)
- Fun (See View to a Kill, Live and Let Die)
- An actual decent song (Casino Royale, The Spy Who Loved Me)
If you can listen to a Bond theme and imagine that the video is of a lone singer in a church singing a heartfelt music video, then it’s not a Bond theme. I fully agree that the thematic use of it throughout the movie is well worked, but as a Bond theme it should be consigned to the bin. How it won an Oscar is probably purely as the result of large envelopes of cash.
Anyway, we get some cast now as Ralph Fiennes steps into the role as ‘M’ after the death of Judi Dench in the previous installment, and he takes no time at all in chastising Bond for causing him to do a fuck load of paperwork. I love Fiennes in this role — channeling Bernard Lee with a trifle more ‘Fuck You 007’ about him. As a man who is incredibly fucking annoyed with changes in his department, he has absolutely zero-tolerence for Bond’s shenanigans and it’s understandable why when we meet the source of his pulsing forehead vein.
To say that Andrew Scott as ‘C’ is ‘a bit on the nose’ would be an understatement. You might as well have him wearing a t-shirt saying “Watch out for me, I’m a bad egg” from the moment he steps into Fiennes Office. There is absolutely no fucking subtlty of character as far as he is concerned, and if you can’t see his character arc from the first smirk on his face I would suggest you go and get some extensive cognitive testing.
As I mentioned before, this film is incredibly fucking long. 147 minutes fucking long to be exact. And as such there is a fair amount of fucking aimless plot
- We do get Tanner (The always lovely Rory Kinnear) taking 007 to meet Q to get some fun stuff, only to end up some robots in his blood and a watch. That said, Ben Wishaw is always fun on-screen, inbibing more Desmond Llewelyn than his humanly safe to meow back at Bond every time he makes a sarcastic comment.
- Bond then travels to Italy to a funeral which Judi Dench’s M told him to go to, where he franticly shags a plot device played by Monica Belluci in order to get into a meeting. At said meeting, he watches as SPECTRE have a board meeting discussing their Q3 achievements and the dental plan, with a mute henchman played by Dave Bautista making a very pertinent point about share options in opthomology futures.
- Bond is picked out at the meeting by the mysterious chairman Franz Oberhauser and is chased by Bautista through the streets of Rome before escaping to Austria to find Mr White, a prior antagonist from other movies who is off his tits on catnip and asks Bond to protect his daughter in exchange for some more post-it notes with some plot on them.
Right, I’m not doing anymore of this. If you want to watch any more plot then fucking watch the film yourself, it’s highlights only from now on. This is the inherant problem this film and something that Netflix needs to apologise for — the fucking boxsetting of plots. If you had 6 hour-long episodes to string everything in this film out over you could do it, no problem. Couple more stunts and a bit more SPECTRE HR policy and you would pretty much be there. Bu I’m not here for a Bond series, I want a rollocking 100 minutes of secret agent suave with a side of whimsical homicide.
But this film has so many different pointless strands of plot that it takes a fucking age to go anywhere. If you compare this to No Time to Die (which is by no means a perfect film and equally as fucking long) it does have a narrative which generally goes point A to B with the odd bit of C that comes back round to resolve to B. It’s got wasted space too but its just a lot more interesting. By the time that you get Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux doing some renovations in their “A Place in a Sun” Moroccan Hostel, you will wish you’d watched literally anything else. Do I like Seydoux? Yes, her and Craig crackle onscreen together. But its difficult to crackle when your provided with two damp sticks covered in custard to light the fire with.
And this is where I’m fucking annoyed with this film overall. It has a legendary villain in Blofeld whose reveal is also fucking telegraphed lime the end of a story on CBeebies bedtime hour. It has number of very pleasing stunts, scenes but half of them are essentially meaningless in terms of the overall plot. How can you make a scene where Blofeld tortures Bond so fucking boring as well? You’ve got a super-base in the middle of the fucking Sahara and it looks like a dentist’s waiting room for the clinically fucking boring. And by the time we get to the end we have to watch the entire denoument of the film in the fucking dark. It looks like it’s been lit with fucking iPhones. FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK TURN THE FUCKING LIGHTS ON.
I recant my entire fucking introduction to this piece. The fact that they managed to make No Time to Die off the back of this is nothing short of extraordinary. I’m watching a lot of Bond at the moment and the thing that strikes me about the earlier Connery and Moore efforts is the simplicity of the films in comparison to the absolute shitshow of a script here, which manages to conjure up as much drama and suspense as a pool of rusty water in a disused public toilet, but that’s what you get when you click the Windows paperclip saying “It looks like you are trying to ruin the legacy of a great film villain by making him entirely two-dimensional and giving him an assistant who might as well be the fucking childcatcher — do you want some help?”
I’m not surprised Daniel Craig wanted to put his head in an oven by the end of this film, he’s absolutely fucking fighting the tide in this film along with Seydoux to provide some kind of fucking ballast to a ship thats made entirely of the contents of Sam Mendes’ commode.
Positives: Stunts, Craig and Seydoux
Negatives: The fucking plot, direction, song, writers, character development (there is none), SPECTRE