SPECTRE Movie Review

Spectre reminds me a lot of Star Trek Into Darkness. Star Trek 2009 rebooted the film universe and cleared the table, enabling the filmmakers to take the franchise in a brand new direction with a brand new story and brand new worlds. Instead, Into Darkness took ideas from earlier Star Trek movies and tossed them all together. Skyfall set up Spectre in the same way, but Spectre feels like it’s a worse version of that movie.

Judi Dench’s M has sent James Bond a mission from beyond the grave. He has to find and kill someone, which leads him down a rabbit hole. He’s discovered a secret organization that has ties to the villains of the last three Daniel Craig Bond movies. Meanwhile, over at MI6, Ralph Fiennes’ M is dueling with C, who has dreamed up a surveillance system that tracks everything and everyone in the name of national security. Agents in the field like 007 are out-of-date when you have things like drones and data mining.

Let me be upfront with you, dear reader. When I first saw Spectre, I thought it was alright. However, as the days pass there’s one thing that bothers me about this movie: it lacks drive. There seems to be little urgency, and the movie feels aimless and unexciting for a lot of the running time. The movie also feels slow, and I’m not talking slow like Bridge of Spies, where it’s a talky movie that’s designed to be slow and meticulous. No, I mean this movie is edited badly. There are plenty of scenes that go on a little too long, leaving you with that “alright, get on with it” feeling. This movie also likes lingering when characters speak. It likes showing them doing nothing for a couple seconds before they say something and then sits with them after, it’s weird.

Spectre is the goofiest Bond movie Craig has starred in. This is a movie that really wants to harken back to classic Bond, and a lot of the tropes are there. Like Dave Bautista’s Hinx, who is in the mold of a classic Bond henchman, like Jaws or Oddjob. He feels like a threat that can wipe out Bond, and he’s a little terrifying. The problem is that he feels wasted. It feels like we could have seen more of him, or that he could have done more.

He’s definitely not as wasted as Christoph Waltz though, who is so underutilized that they should have just casted someone else. The smooth, menacing delivery that Waltz has mastered isn’t put to use in Spectre. It’s not for a lack of trying, Waltz is doing his best. The script just doesn’t provide Waltz with anything interesting to say. That’s a deathblow to this character because he literally doesn’t do anything else. All he does in this movie is sit around in the shadows, walk around, play with a tablet and click at a keyboard. Oh, he rides in a helicopter, too. He has nothing interesting to do, so everything has to come in what he has to say, but he has nothing interesting to say.

To fully discuss the failings of this character, I must spoil some of the movie in this next paragraph.

Waltz’s character is Franz Oberhauser, the son of the man who adopted and raised James Bond. Franz is jealous and stuff, so he wants to torture Bond. Eventually, he reveals that he faked his death and changed his name to Blofeld. This is the same thing Into Darkness did with Khan, it’s a crafty bit of fan service only designed to be fan service. The characters don’t really care what his name is, they just know he’s the bad guy. It’s dumb, and filmmakers need to stop doing this. Please.

Spoilers over.

The movie attempts to tie Waltz’s villain in with Bond’s past, but it doesn’t seem to mean anything to Bond. Or maybe we did, I can’t tell because it kind of feels like Craig is phoning in this Bond performance. It feels like he’s going through the motions. He gets a couple moments where he shines, like a great bit in a frosty HQ with a security guard. And his chemistry with Ben Whishaw’s Q is out of this world. For the most part though, it just feels like he’s tired.

A lot of Spectre feels tired, it kind of feels like the movie wants to deal with the fallout of Skyfall so it did more stuff like Skyfall. The things Spectre tries to do are very close to the things Skyfall did. We go, once again, into Bond’s past. We’re stuffing in a bunch of callbacks to classic Bond.

There are a lot of bad moments in Spectre. The movie isn’t engaging or exciting enough to mask its illogical flaws, like character beats that don’t make sense or a third act that feels like it was lifted from a 90s action movie. It’s a movie where you sit back a couple days later and go, “wait, why did this happen and that happen and what the hell?” It’s slow and plodding and aimless, but it’s also got fantastic moments that make you realize what this could have been. It’s got some great bits between Bond and his crew at MI6. It’s nice to see M, Moneypenny and Q actually do stuff outside the office. The cold open in Mexico City is absolutely fantastic. The action sequences are enjoyable and Bautista makes for a great, scary villain. Despite its lowest lows and highest highs, Spectre evens out at “eh, it was alright.”

Originally published at www.swiftfilm.com.