SPECTRE is, without a doubt, the dullest, most phoned-in Bond movie since Daniel Craig took over the part in 2006’s Casino Royale.
How bad SPECTRE, the 24th in the series, really is is a matter of personal taste. Personally, I will always prefer the tone of the Craig films – even the worst (Quantum of Solace, SPECTRE) of them – to even the best of the campy Roger Moore pictures or the silly Pierce Brosnan outings. Given my admitted preference for a rougher and angrier 007, I am still submitting SPECTRE as one of the better (well, Top 10) entries in the franchise.
My expectations going in were high. First of all, I had been dying to order a 007 martini at Cineplex’s VIP Experience ever since it opened earlier this year and had been saving it for this movie. “Oh, that’s the perfect drink for this movie,” my waitress informed me, as if my ordering it had been a coincidence. More importantly though, my eager anticipation of SPECTRE reached new heights once its title had been released.
SPECTRE had always been my favourite part of the old Sean Connery classics and I couldn’t wait to see what the 21st century reboot would look like. Back in the 60s, the organization known as SPECTRE would always be trying to trick two superpowers into going to war with each other. And MI-6, Bond included, would always fall for it for the first half of the movie until the inevitable revelation that would invariably lead to what I consider to be one of the most iconic 007 lines “Of course. SHHHPECTA”.
Because SPECTRE reimagines Bond’s first dust-up with the nefarious organization, I probably should have known that I would not be hearing my favourite line. Which isn’t to say that the latest 21st century Bond film isn’t without its share of silliness. With the success of Casino Royale and Skyfall, the creative team seem more confident than ever and allow themselves licnese to have some fun with the material that Craig’s earlier and darker installments would have never allowed. SPECTRE is a return to Bond’s glory days, featuring exploding watches, secret societies, elaborate torture devices, and unkillable villains.
It’s mostly fun to watch. Craig’s performance, continuing to redefine Bond’s signature charm as a brave face against deep psychological scars, balances the less restrained elements nicely, making it easier to just sit back and enjoy the insanity without rolling our eyes as much. Bond’s close-quarters fight with the indestructable Hinx (played as the strong silent type by David Badista) aboard a train is particularly reminiscent of the best Bond brawls from the Connery and Moore days and was a definite highlight for me.
Unfortunately, director Sam Mendes and company have also taken Skyfall’s success as license to rest on their laurels a bit. The chases too often feel uninspired and familiar, even from – as Jay pointed out – earlier in the movie. Other scenes resort too often to a kind of melodrama that Craig’s earlier films were mostly successful at avoiding.
Still, SPECTRE looks great and is well-cast (although Christoph Waltz isn’t nearly compelling as a Bond villain as Mads Mikkelsen or Javier Bardem were) so is only disappointing when compared with Bond’s best missions.
And the martini was worth the wait.