Spectre, the highly anticipated twenty-fourth James Bond film, culminates the Daniel Craig era. It ties together the events of his previous films in an effort to conclude the series. The expectations for this film were astronomical, as it follows the mass success of film Skyfall. Although Spectre managed to provide some thrills, it’s a largely forgetful and underwhelming Bond film.
Spectre boasts of a dream team composed of director Sam Mendes and (arguably) the most successful Bond in the history of the franchise, Daniel Craig. Mendes also directed Skyfall, and with Spectre he tries to outdo his previous work. Spectre exceeds Skyfall in its grandeur; Mendes delivers a polished product that could pass for a Tom Ford ad campaign. Sadly, Spectre is plagued with a loose and incompetent plot.
Bond films are iconic for their imaginative title sequences and theme song; Spectre’s title sequence looks like a graphic designer with an anime fetish created it, while the theme song “Writings on the Wall” by Sam Smith was mediocre. The action sequences, hi-tech gadgets and posh tones manage to provide some amusement for the audience, but the film as a whole is a let down in comparison to the previous Craig-era films (including Quantam of Solace).
Thankfully, Craig is still transfixing as Bond; he dominates every scene like a pro. His usual intense persona is tainted with cringe-worthy humor, but he still resonates as the brooding Bond. Ben Winshaw as Q personifies congeniality. Eve Moneypenny, portrayed by Naomi Harris, who we saw kick-ass as a field agent in Skyfall is reduced to a desk position. Ralph Fiennes is the new M; he cannot replace the screen grabber extraordinaire Judi Dench, but brings his own likable touch to his character.
Léa Seydoux, an incredibly talented young actor (see Blue is the Warmest Color), is the new Bond girl Madeline Swan. She’s a beauty with a brain who eventually becomes Bond’s moral compass. Despite an earnest effort, the chemistry between Seydoux and Craig seems forced. Sexual tension between the two is undeniable, and possibly a hint of an emotional connection is present, but the magnitude of their relationship seems exaggerated. Craig’s chemistry in the short-lived romance with the other Bond girl in the film, Lucia Sciarra (portrayed by the enchantress Monica Bellucci), is far more convincing.
Christoph Waltz takes on the part of the Bond villain, a position as iconic as Bond himself. Waltz is arguably the most qualified actor in the roster, and the most qualified man to take on the part having built a Hollywood career on playing villainous roles. This Bond villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has a long history with Bond that dates back to their youth. The two share a jealousy driven rivalry that, like many other elements of this film, is hyperbolized. The character has potential to be menacing, but is never fully met. The reaction he produces from the audience is more soporific than intimidating. Blofeld is possibly the blandest villain in the Craig era of Bond villains. Waltz’ talents are wasted in this film.
After a series of brilliant Bond films, Spectre is incredibly underwhelming. The film lacks a script of Bond’s caliber. The characters are sloppily written, and the plot is hideously unoriginal. The only commendable feature of the script is that Bond is fighting to prevent an authoritative system resembling an Orwell novel and not a nuclear war. This is what reminds the audience that they are watching a Bond film, a film for sophisticated audiences, and not a generic Mission Impossible-esque film, other than that the film feels generic. If it weren’t for Sam Mendes’ scenic direction and the cast’s sincere effort, this film would have fallen completely flat. Bond may be back, but he should have taken some more time off and come back later with a solid script.