During the Sony Pictures email-hacking-fiasco, it was revealed that studio executives expressed concerns that Spectre was poorly written, citing problems with its villain, and that its budget was ballooning into the 300 millions. The sad part about these concerns was none of these problems were fixed. The film pits Bond and his agency, MI-6 against the mysterious organization Spectre, whose leader claims extreme personal connection to Bond, “The author of all of his pain.” Sadly Spectre is still badly written, way too long, but gets by on its incredible action sequences.
Spectre’s octopus (stylized above as a gunshot) is a clean effective logo. The writing however, resembles more of a real octopus, a tangled, bloated mess that's unfortunately very idiotic. This is most evident in the portrayal of its iconic villain, and his back story. I was floored when they revealed his "personal" connection to Bond, and thus his subsequent hatred—it's hilarious. He then inexplicably straps Bond into a ridiculously over the top torture device (straight out of an Austin Powers movie) instead of just killing him. Moreover, this "personal connection" with Bond only seems to matter because of Bond’s ability to stop his nefarious activities—from Casino Royale to Spectre (really it's bad).
The mastermind, or “the author of all his pain,” behind the past three Bond movies should mean something but it doesn’t here. “Why,” and “To what End?”, I found myself constantly asking about this villain's forced connection with Bond and his unexplained ideological motivations. The great Christoph Waltz’s (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained) talents are utterly wasted here on this cartoonish villain. Plus Daniel Craig is clearly done with acting as Bond and mails in a performance. I presume they were trying to make references to previous Bond films with the aforementioned torture device and by bringing back some of the cringe worthy puns. But Craig’s brooding gritty Bond was supposed to move the character beyond that. Instead, it just seems incongruous at best and phony at the worst.
The film isn't all bad. Dave Bautista is a highlight as Mr. Hinx, a ruthless hitman who despite the film’s absurd length, ironically has little screen time. His savage introduction is one of the best and most memorable parts of the film. His violent, unstoppable and imposing presence is felt in every scene he portrays. Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall, also deserves a mention for his direction of the fantastic action scenes. The opening shot in particular is quite a memorable showing of Bond hunting down a member of Spectre during a crowded Day of The Dead celebration in Mexico City.
Spectre is an expensive and exhausting production that unfortunately is ruined by fundamental issues. As Katharine Trendacosta succinctly puts it, “Personal is not a shortcut to depth.” Daniel Craig, once the savior of the Bond franchise, looked like he was just going through the motions (maybe because he said he'd rather not ever do this again). Perhaps because the franchise looks to be headed back down the old ridiculous over the top road that Craig and Casino Royale thoroughly put down. The one that Austin Powers and Co. savagely and hilariously mocked. The film is mostly style with forced substance, and mainly saved by Sam Mendes' fantastic action set pieces. If this is indeed the last we'll see of Daniel Craig's Bond, it was a poor finale. I'll miss Craig's Bond, but I'm cautiously optimistic for the next portrayal.
TLDR: Spectre is a bloated quagmire. It’s a Bond movie with fantastic actions sequences, but with a silly villain, and a boring convoluted plot; although it’s worth a watch for the action alone. (3 stars/5)
Calhoun, Dave. "Daniel Craig Interview: 'My Advice to the next James Bond? Don't Be Shit!'" Time Out London. Time Out Digital LTD, 7 Oct. 2015. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2015.
Leitch, Will. "The Cheesy Spectre Suggests That James Bond's Darker, Grittier, Better Days Are Over." The Concourse. Gawker Media, 6 Nov. 2015. Web. Nov. 2015.
Sargent, Jordan. "New Bond Script Leaks: Execs Scrambling to Fix Awful Ending." Defamer. Gawker Media, 12 Dec. 2014. Web. Nov. 2015.
Trendacosta, Katharine. "The Huge Problem With Spectre's Villain." Io9. Gawker Media, 9 Nov. 2015. Web. Nov. 2015.