By Willie Krischke
Daniel Craig has now made four James Bond flicks, and is regularly voted the best Bond ever. I still think Sean Connery is the best Bond, but there’s no doubt that, during Craig’s tenure, everything around 007 has been significantly upgraded. Instead of the silly, sexist, pointless and mindless action flicks the franchise has so often produced, we’ve seen smart, stylish action movies with believable characters and compelling relationships, and a real sense that something is at stake, that James Bond lives in a world worth saving.
All that ends with “Spectre,” which, for some reason is a callback to the days of silly, sexist Bond. This movie is such a disappointment after “Skyfall,” which was a high point for the Bond franchise. Everything here is aggressively ridiculous. For the record, I didn’t like “Quantum of Solace,” but at least it felt like a film that was trying to be interesting, even as it fell short. “Spectre,” on the other hand, feels like a slap in the face, a reminder that most Bond films are embarassing, and the joke’s on me for expecting them to be anything else. This film really feels like it’s trying to be bad.
Following a tip left him by M before her death, James Bond discovers a figure from his past, a man he thought dead, is alive and causing trouble. He tracks him from Monica Bellucici’s bedroom to Lea Seydoux’s bedroom to a fantastic control room in the middle of a desert in Africa. After Bond blows up the control room, he has to save Seydoux – and all of England, from Christoph Waltz and his ubiquitous security cameras.
It would take too long to go over everything that doesn’t work in this movie, so let me just give you the greatest hits: Christoph Waltz is wasted. I don’t know what makes the bad guy dangerous. Monica Bellucci is wasted. Instead of the age-appropriate Bond girl we were hoping for, she’s a one-night stand – and then Bond leaves her to die! Even Dave Bautista, playing a henchman with metal fingernails, is wasted. Craig and Seydoux have no chemistry (possibly because she’s 20 years younger than him.) It’s competely unbelievable that a) she would fall for him and b) that he would run off into the sunset with her at the end. The bad guy’s motivation is patently ridiculous. The film brings back the least interesting, least memorable bad guy in the last five movies (maybe more.) But most of all, hardly anything on the screen is the least bit believable. Bond flicks may normally have a shaky relationship with reality, but this one has reality tied to a chair in the basement and is feeding it cat food.
Is there anything good about this film? Well, it looks great. Craig can still wear a suit. It’s stylish, in the blandest, most generic sense of that word. It does have a pretty decent opening sequence, before it all goes downhill.
This is reportedly Craig’s last Bond flick. He’s had a great run, but certainly seems to be calling it in here. He looks tired, and bored. Everything about this production feels tired and bored. Hopefully whoever is 007 next can bring some energy back to the role.