Going in to SPECTRE, I was of the opinion that Daniel Craig was the best Bond of all-time and was more worried that this might be his last film as 007 than I was about the film itself. After all, the same team behind Skyfall, probably the best Bond film of all, was back and everything we’d seen looked fantastic. Leaving SPECTRE, I have to say, even though he’s under contract for a fifth film, I hope Daniel Craig is done. SPECTRE isn’t just the biggest disappointment of 2015, it sets the Bond franchise back to its pre-Casino Royale renaissance and paints Craig’s Bond into an ending so final that it’s difficult to see how anything but another reboot is the next step.
I hate writing reviews like this. I didn’t want to just like this film, it was my most anticipated film of 2015 aside from Star Wars. I loved Craig’s three previous films and SPECTRE definitely continues that storyline. Lord knows, it won’t let you forget it. From the painfully weird (even by Bond credit standards) opening, we’re reminded of the events of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall OVER and OVER and OVER with all the subtlety of a tackhammer. Instead of continuing to develop Bond as a character and earn the ending of the film (which felt like what we’d been expecting) the film wastes two hours on bloated action sequences and side plots that have you numb by the time anything of consequence actually gets around to occurring.
The tone of the film is so odd. It stepped backward into the camp that the Austin Powers franchise mocked so well that it nearly killed Bond off before Casino Royale turned things around. For most of the film, this Bond feels more like Pierce Brosnan’s 007 than Daniel Craig’s. Craig’s Bond isn’t quippy and winky. In Skyfall, Q tells Bond that they really don’t go in for the “exploding pen” type of gadgetry any more. In this film HE HAS A CAR WITH A MACHINE GUN, A FLAME THROWER AND AN EJECTOR SEAT. Skyfall accomplished so much with an economy of effort and character development as the driving force. Spectre manages to accomplish nearly nothing in staggeringly overwrought and pointless scenes that could have been cut and pasted from any Bond movie. I could hear Mike Meyers in my head as Dr. Evil as when we finally do get around to Christoph Waltz (who has maybe 15 minutes of screen time) IN A LAIR WITH AN OVERLY ELABORATE SCENARIO INVOLVING AN EASILY ESCAPABLE DEATH!!!
The most frustrating thing is that this could have pulled the three prior movies together in a way that earned a character-shaping four-film arc. The pieces were there. Dave Bautista is wasted as SPECTRE’s enforcer. If the film had focused on Bond and Waltz’s character’s past, if the strings behind all the previous films had been elegantly revealed, if so much time wasn’t wasted, we could be looking at a brilliant arc of four films. As it is, Sam Mendes somehow directed the best and worst of Daniel Craig’s Bond films. I’m honestly at a loss. This is the Matrix: Revolutions of Bond films. What a bloody shame.