I saw this film a while back so this review’s been on the back burner for quite a while at this point. Needless to say, I was not impressed and Spectre is a big drop from Skyfall. It tries to play out like the old James Bond films and that’s a bad thing. Not only is it not long enough for this film to be considered nostalgic like with what Creed and Star Wars are doing (Nostalgia in the sense that it brings back old scenes/plot references to get a rise out of the audience in an epic way) but it just brings up all of the reasons why I never liked the films in the first place. Brace yourselves because things are about to get real.
James Bond is on the hunt for an organization known as Spectre. They’re a worldwide terrorist organization that is bent on committing as many crimes as possible. Bond’s own MI6 is being taken over by a new company that wants to take control of all spy programs across the planet so the agent is on his own. Gee, I hope that the company is on the up and up though. Having complete control over the planet’s surveilance programs is a lot of power is one guy’s hand after all. Bond is so good that he still has a lot of high tech equipment at his side even without the company and he gets close to catching up to Spectre a few times only to be evaded at the last second. He’s going to need his old pal Q if he wants to come out on top!
The film is very long so the plot changes rather dramatically as the film progresses. Let’s just get the negatives out of the way first so we can discuss the characters and the film itself. For starters, the romance and objectification is back in full force for this feature. The opening credits are terrible and show why the James Bond franchise will never be respectable and why it will never be a good one either. The romance plots here are all terrible, forced, and simply unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. A widow who lost her husband about a day or two ago quickly gets over it and decides to move on to Bond. Granted, she didn’t seem to like the guy much and he was a villain, but it’s still not cool. It’s also hard to see her getting out of the place alive since Bond just left her with a phone number for an embassy.
One person is never enough so Bond also goes to the daughter of an old villain, Madeleine. She’s the main heroine of the film and while she tries to act like the tough heroine at all times, it didn’t take her long to get past the friend zone with Bond. The two characters keep on splitting up and getting back together throughout the entire film, which ends up being a plot line that drags on and doesn’t contribute to the film. It also makes the characters make some poor decisions. For example, Madeleine says that she’s had enough of Bond so she walks away to a dark alley during a tense moment where the villains are on the loose. Lo and behold, the villains kidnap her. Who did not see this coming?
There’s also the fact that even the fight scenes aren’t as enjoyable as they used to be. Remember when fight scenes were about slugging it out and just being the last man standing? That’s not how it goes now as the villains immediately go for eye shots, which makes for a long grapple where the villain will either succeed or fail. Instead of being an enjoyable bout, it turns into a fight that’s grimacing to watch. I’ve always been partial to eye shots and just don’t like to see them in my fights. Unfortunately, they tend to occur quite frequently nowadays.
This film is also pretty violent at times like when one villain pulls the eye shot on another. It’s a painfully long scene meant to show us how sinister and evil the villain is..but we already knew that. Everyone in the theater knew that these guys were evil already. We also get a long scene where the main villain drills through James Bond for a while before the agent is finally able to get free. The extra edge factor is not needed. It’s like adding a 6th cheese to a 5 cheese pizza. At that point, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.
All right, we’ve mostly gone through the main negatives at this point. Now, onto the characters! James Bond is actually very out of character here compared to Craig’s previous roles. Unlike the other Bonds, he was never overly interested in women to the point where he would flirt with everyone. He preferred to be detached from everyone and we only saw his affairs once in a while. Here? Nah, he’s back to being the original Bond. Who needs continuity when you have nostalgia moments for the fans right? Unfortunately, it destroys any chance that he had of being likable and Bond is a terrible main character. It’s good that he decided to leave MI6 once it was getting corrupt, but at the same time, he should have failed in his mission. My suspense for disbelief can only go so far as Bond managed to evade everyone for around a year. (I forgot exactly how long the timeskip was) Bond is a little tougher here than he was in Skyfall (The most embarrassing film of his career) but he still continues to lose to random guys with steroids. What’s the point of mastering hand to hand combat if you’ll get wrecked by any joker with super strength? I don’t fully understand! Ah well, his loss.
Ernst is the main villain and another intellectual whose only gimmick is that he can talk a good game. That’s it. He can’t fight and Ernst is only relevant because he has a large organization to back him up. While strategic villains can be all right sometimes like Light Yagami, most of the time I want the main villain to be able to fight back. Otherwise, it’s hard to take him seriously no matter how much hype the guy gets.
As far as the heroines in James Bond films go, Madeleine is a big improvement. If we ignore the romance parts, then she’s a decent character. She actually knows how to fight and isn’t afraid to use a gun. Madeleine has good reason to be upset with Bond as he gave her father a gun and basically assisted in the guy’s suicide. Certainly a less painful end for the guy since Spectre was going to destroy him, but it still doesn’t change the fact that James gave him the means to an end. Madeleine was too indecisive though and could not make up her mind no matter how great the stakes were.
Q is still a good tech person even if it’s hard to forget the more classic versions of the character. He’s younger and has less respect for Bond, but it’s very hard to respect 007 so I can sympathize. His inventions aren’t bad and Q does help a little during the film. At least he’s a loyal friend so that’s always good. I can respect Q as a character. M is probably my favorite character in the film even if he talks a little too much. He spends most of the climax bragging even though C manages to get the upper hand on him. That’s considering that M had the advantage of surprise. Again, he was too busy bragging to even consider that C might try to tackle him. C has no real fighting experience, but he can still give M a good fight, which probably isn’t a good sign for the old guy. I liked C as a political villain. I always love seeing politics even if it made everyone look bad. The CIA and the FBI aren’t so unintelligent that they would fall for this trap. Seriously, letting someone control their agencies? Hahahahahaha.
As far as the length is concerned, James Bond films are always a little too long so I can’t say that I was surprised. It’s still not a good thing though as the film does tend to drag on from time to time. It’s not as bad as the Hobbit where I would be on the verge of ZZZs though. I’d never really get that tired from James Bond with all of the explosions that were around, but it would have done well to have cut out a good chunk of time if you ask me. It may sound like a stretch, but a good 30-40 minutes could easily be shaved off.
While I was not very impressed with the fight scenes, I still enjoyed the nice car chase scenes. Those are always a lot of fun and it’s why films like Need for Speed and Fast & and the Furious always have potential. With a nice night backdrop to add some hype to the race, you can really never count a race out as being the best part of a film. It certainly was here even if Bond’s car should be a little faster considering that it’s a one of a kind machine that was built by Q.
Still, the film just couldn’t live up to the hype from the trailer. I figured that I wouldn’t like this film, but the trailer still hinted that this could be the best Bond film yet. I like the idea of an evil organization like Spectre and Bond having to face them all. It could have been so epic, but the film just never pulls this off. Even from small things like the organization having to remind us that they’re dealing with human trafficking (Again, we know they’re evil so why the extra details?) or the first action scene taking place in a packed area where the locale isn’t as vibrant and interesting as a city backdrop, the film couldn’t get as hype as it should have been.
Overall, I’m definitely fine with this being the final Bond film in the Craig era. Maybe it’s just time to give the franchise a long break and then we can check on it again in like 20 years or so. That’s definitely not a bad idea if you ask me. Listen to the reviews this time folks and just skip out on this film. If you want a more enjoyable theater experience, then go check out Creed or the new Mission Impossible. Mission Impossible continues to be a better secret agent film series than James Bond and at this point, the gap is so wide that I don’t see this changing in the near or far future. Game over Mr. Bond.