I wish I could tell you I loved every moment of Spectre, the new James Bond movie, but sadly, that’s not the case. Perhaps it was my viewing of every other Daniel Craig 007 outing the weekend before I saw the new film that ruined it for me. Skyfall is such an amazing film, a movie where everything clicks, a movie where there isn’t a dull moment or a wasted frame, that it’s almost impossible to live up to it’s legacy. But there’s a lot wrong with Spectre, the film that is definitely Sam Mendes’s last Bond movie as a director and possibly star Daniel Craig’s last one, too. It certainly feels that way.
(POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!)
So what’s wrong with Spectre? Lots, although there are some good things, too. It has one of the best opening sequences (Bond stalking a terrorist through Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade ending with a long helicopter stunt that is incredible) of any 007 movie. It’s great to see M, Moneypenny, Q, and Tanner out in the field. It’s beautifully shot. That new Aston Martin is something.
But it’s also plodding and badly edited (in a great interview on Deadine.com, Sam Mendes lauds the editor Lee Smith, but there are so many shots that just linger way too long). Monica Bellucci is absolutely wasted (so much was made of this 50-year-old “Bond girl” … she’s in one short scene). Lea Seydoux is badly miscast as the center of Bond’s attention, and is way too young to be a love interest. And Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser (we all know who he really is) is too quirky and wimpy to ever approach being remotely menacing. (I think the only movies Waltz should appear in our Quentin Tarantino movies … he at least knows how to write for him). Dave Bautista’s Hinx is wasted, the chance for another Oddjob-like great henchman pissed away. And the requisite car chase, where, yes, Bond trashes that beautiful car, is boring.
I’m a firm believer that any time spent watching a James Bond movie, is time well spent (unless that movie includes Grace Jones, Halle Berry, Denise Richards, and/or Madonna). Like the Marx Brothers, bad James Bond is usally better than no James Bond at all. And I’m afraid we’re entering a period—once again—where there will be no James Bond movie for quite a while. Their distribution contract with Sony is up, so there’s that whole “courting” thing again with other studios. Mendes is gone as director. Craig may be gone as star (he has one film left on his contract, but this sure feels like a walk—or drive—into the sunset for him). I’m fearful that the combination of those two things—studio and actor problems—will make for a 4 or 5 year wait between now and the next time we hear those thrilling first bars of the world’s most recognizable movie theme.
One thing that Spectre gets right: The film restores the iconic gun scope opening graphic to the beginning, right after the studio logos, where it belongs. That and the opening beats of the James Bond theme will always set my tiny little heart aflutter.