Before I get on with my review of the latest entry in the James Bond film series, I want to talk about the last film: Skyfall. Before that film was released, I was frustrated with the franchise. Or specifically, the last two titles in the franchise. Casino Royale felt like a slightly botched attempt at a reboot, followed by Quantum of Solace, which was a train-wreck in so many ways. My biggest issue with these titles is that they didn’t feel like Bond films. Having grown up watching Brosnan, Connery, and Moore play suave and skilled spies, Daniel Craig’s Bond always seemed thuggish and rough, something that I never felt fit. That changed with Skyfall.
While Daniel Craig didn’t change much in terms of his portrayal, the rest of the movie was certainly different from this attempted arc of an angry and vengeful James Bond. There was intelligent action, an actual plot, cool gadgets, exotic locations, Bond tropes, and most importantly, it felt stand alone. With the odd exception, you used to be able watch a Bond film without needing to see the others to understand what was going on. So Skyfall felt like a great blast from the past. As it should have, considering it was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first film, Dr. No. But ultimately what I most enjoyed about Skyfall was it finally felt like the franchise was returning to form.
The reason why I bring up the amazingness of Skyfall is because in comparison, Spectre takes several step backwards from what I had considered progress made in the last film.
For starters, the plot is all over the place. Just when I thought we’d moved on from attempting to tell a continuing arc that didn’t impress anyone, the movie continues to do so. Bond has once again “gone rogue” in a manner of speaking and is attempting to fulfill the previous M’s last request and in the process stop the evil organization known as Spectre. It’s like we’ve learned nothing from the last three films at all. For those of you not familiar with James Bond lore, Spectre is the recurring group of antagonists throughout most Bond films. While at first I was excited for the introduction of the infamous syndicate, the film does so in possibly the most underwhelming way. Rather the group be simply introduced, they have to be revealed as the masterminds not only of the events of the last three movies, but all that’s gone wrong in James’ life. Again, it’s like we’ve learned nothing.
Most of the performances help make the film a little more bearable. Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris, and Ralph Fiennes are still fantastic in their roles as Q, Moneypenny, and M respectively. As I said earlier, Daniel Craig’s James Bond has never been my favourite, but he does try to bring a little more depth to the role this time around. Perhaps what is the most disappointing though is Christoph Waltz’s portrayal of Blofeld. This character is the most famous antagonist in the world of Bond, and Waltz in theory would be perfect for the role. The only issue is that for a man known to play some seriously twisted villains, his Blofeld is surprisingly one-dimensional. You think that wouldn’t matter, but the James Bond franchise is known for its eccentricities, and Waltz unfortunately doesn’t bring much in this department.
But perhaps that isn’t so much Waltz’s fault as it is the poor writing and direction. The film’s plot is a hodgepodge of plotlines and we as the audience aren’t sure what actually matters and what isn’t important. Blofeld, instead of being sinister and villanous, comes across as petty and childish. The film is also way too long, even the most die-hard Bond fans are going to have trouble staying excited for the whole thing. By the end of it you can’t help but feel a little relived that the film is over.
I feel that what I’m saying might be a bit harsh, but the truth is that I was seriously disappointed in James Bond’s latest adventure. I honestly can’t recommend it as I just have so many issues with it. If the rumours are true and this is Daniel Craig’s last performance as our favourite 00 agent, then I say it’s about time. Hopefully we finally move on from this “experiement” of attempting to tell an arching narrative about death and vengance and get back to a formula that works.