<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Sam Mendes. Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Jesper Christensen, Andrew Scott
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Don’t you think James Bond has long overstayed his welcome? Aren’t there plenty of action heroes and spies and people who lose their memory only to turn into lethal killing machines that seem to make poor ol’ Bond look a tad sheepish?
The James Bond of yesteryear was indeed someone to marvel at. Especially since enigmatic characters like Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton played him. Heck, even Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films had some fun added to the regular stunts, gadgets and stunning sets. I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Craig’s Bond, as ‘hot’ as some people may find him. That being said, he manages to pull of what the makers of the film want quite dexterously. I just feel something is missing there.
Also, every thriller and action movie nowadays has a hero that does exactly the same stuff that Bond does. They all have fancy cars, stunts, villains, gadgets and pretty ladies. So what Bond does isn’t special anymore. And that’s the real trick for the guardians of this legendary character: to get Bond to soar above all those ‘impersonators’ who have risen to give him a run for his money. Perhaps it is the fact that Bond is so stuck in the past – and not in a good, nostalgia-inducing way – that he fails to connect anymore. Sure you’ll go eagerly to watch a Bond film, but the magic you once felt for him will be non-existent. Like in the opening credits when the familiar shot of James Bond walking across a white room with his gun suddenly turns to face the camera and shoots, I simply laughed. It looks tacky and ridiculous.
But I think the makers of these films have realised that in the little instances in this film that actually make fun of or take us back to some of the ‘gimmicks’ of Bond movies: Like the ejection seat and car gizmos, and the ‘shaken not stirred’ line. Interestingly, Bond never actually ends up drinking in the film. Social conscience perhaps.
Aside from a thrilling sequence in the start of the film shot high above a traditional but macabre parade in Mexico, the action sequences in SPECTRE are pretty mundane. And the strange plot point of trying to tie together the previous films: Skyfall, Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale leads to absolutely nowhere substantial for the viewer.
Don’t get me wrong. SPECTRE is a perfectly nice film on its own. Craig is strong and determined, and even though you can see something in his eyes about not being sure of this character being this way in the 21st Century, he pushes on through the film powerfully. Lea Seydoux makes a great sidekick at times, but by the end of the film, she is relegated to the clichéd ‘girl in distress’ role. Christoph Waltz fails miserably as the villain, in a role so drab and lacking character that you think back on all the great evil ones that made those classic Bond films so eminently watchable because it was just as fun to watch the bad guys kick Bond’s ass as it was to see him outwit them with his deft combat moves and witty one-liners!
As you can see I haven’t really delved into the story since there really isn’t much of one; certainly not enough to create worldwide catastrophe, inspite of the hints of global terrorism. Our real world tragedies overshadow anything a film can create and SPECTRE looks tame compared to what we watch on the news nowadays.
Apparently this will be Daniel Craig’s last Bond movie but he may return for another one after a break. Previous Bond Pierce Brosnan has some interesting things to say about Daniel and the new film. Read more about that here (from Screen Rant): Pierce Brosnan Says Spectre Story Was ‘Weak’ & ‘Too Long’.
PS: How on earth can Bond rival the super heroes of Marvel and DC today. Even Dave Bautista from Guardians of the Galaxy who plays a bad guy in SPECTRE comes across as just your average beefy thug. Only a great script, fine filmmaking and bringing Bond to the present can save this beloved character from becoming a very tired cliche. I’ve always thought that a return to the Roger Moore days of Bond would be super! I’m sure we’d even take Sean Connery, if only they made men like him nowadays.