It’s been a while since SPECTRE hit theaters. I wanted to give the world a chance to see it before I gave my immediate reactions. But here they are. Now, I haven’t seen it since Nov. 5., this is definitely just the completed-sentences-version of what I wrote the next morning after viewing.
Bond Girls. This film did not deliver.
Monica Bellucci / I don’t even know her character’s name because it was such a pointless part of the film—After all the hype about her, and especially her age, it was so not worth it. She was, like, a hot second of the film. And it was an entirely unaddressed story line that had really no purpose to the film. Sure James got info from her, but it wasn’t imperative that she be the one to offer it. In fact, it didn’t even make sense that she had the info, since she wasn’t with the man and she wasn’t part of the organization. Instead, it felt like “I’m throwing the old broad one last pity fuck because she’s gonna die.” Also, his “I’ll get Felix Leiter to save you” line was bullshit, too, and felt like they had to drop his name for when the character came back in a movie or two. Uh, no. This did no work, at all.
Lea Seydoux / Madeleine Swann—I feel like they were trying to make her the new Tracy di Vicenzo // Vesper Lynd, but without any of the development. Tracy and Vesper were movie-long seductions, to some degree, and Bond had to work hard to earn them. In return, they are the only two women to leave a franchise-wide impact on him. But Madeleine is all cold and calculated, and then when Bond’s getting tortured and she tells him she loves him… it was super fucking strange. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t develop. Then at the end of the movie she’s looking at him like it’s her or the job and he tosses his gun over the bridge. NO. Not only do I see nothing that actually connects them, Bond threw his life away (twice!) for women and it didn’t work out–I don’t think he’d do it for this girl. He actually wouldn’t throw his gun away if he cared about her, because, uh, HIS WIFE GOT SHOT. Besides all that, she’s entirely unmemorable. I don’t recall her having any serious style.
MI6 Agents. A mixed review.
Money Penny really wins this one, trotting around with Q and trying to help save James. She’s fierce and I love the attitude she’s been given and the way she tries to help it. It fits well with the history of her character in the films.
M. Harrumpf. I need to watch the movie again to see how I feel about him. He didn’t stand out to me, but I don’t know, the film wasn’t one that was going to give him a lot of room to shine. He’s got this anger/frustration with Bond that contradicts with his supporting of him even after Bond breaks the rules, but that’s on-point with Bernard Lee’s portrayal of M, so I’m OK with him for now.
Q was a little less arrogant in this film, and a little more friendly. I’m OK with that, but I don’t love it, either, because to do this they sort of had to sacrifice that attitude of his from Skyfall and instead made him a bit of the cat-owning-blundering-nerd stereotype. Previously, Q was unapologetic. I liked unapologetic Q. But I also liked that Q left the office and went to bat for Bond, which felt very License to Kill-style Desmond Llewelyn, and I loved it.
The bad guys. I liked them, and I wanted more.
Max Denbigh // Andrew Scott I knew he was evil form the get-go when he stood with the bad guys at the announcement of the film cast. I wish we could have had more time with him, because he immediately felt like he had to be a villain’s sidekick. That was frustrating, because you never really had time to develop a false sense of him being on MI6’s side.
Mr Hinx // Dave Bautista was the triumphant return of the henchmen of old that I was so ready for. But he only got to use his fucked up thumbs once. ONCE. He disappeared too early in the film. He should have made a comeback after the car crash, that’s what good henchmen do.
Franz Oberhauser/Blofeld // Christoph Waltz didn’t lose his hair in the epic fire. There was an epic fire, and the man retained his hair. WHY WASN’T HE BALD. HE GOT THE SCAR, WHY WASN’T HE BALD? And in the realm of other questions that left me hanging regarding him: Why did the film let him get caught? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAT? I think Waltz was creepy and combative, and I want to see him reprise the role in the future. I think the bullshit brain drill was exactly the type of over-the-top weapon of villains’ of old.
The plot and story and execution. Welcome back.
First, let me say, I’m so glad they found their humor again. I know Craig, in an interview when he got started, said that it was going to be impossible to be funny with the role because Austin Powers ruined it. But I didn’t realize how much I missed the dumb stuff. When Bond told the guy, “Stay!” I was gleeful.
Mad, mad props to the opening scene. I loved the Day of the Dead parade. I sort wish there had been some sex in the hotel room, a cut away, and then Bond sneaking out on to the balcony to go over the guy and have the madness ensue, but it was still a spectacular opening. I actually got a little motion sick with the helicopter stuff.
Now, on to the opening credits + song: I still dislike the song, but the song sort of goes OK with the theme. Which isn’t saying much, but I don’t really like the visuals, either. I liked the parts with the kind of ghostly//inky stuff trailing off women, but the Daniel Craig being so visible is one thing I’ll never like. I appreciated in other Bond openings the way the character, even if obviously an outline of that man, was still blacked out. Still up for any man, any Bond. Oh yeah, the tentacle porn was strange. I also don’t like brining other movies into this opening credit stuff. That absolutely reeks of OHMSS, which was not a successful opening (it didn’t even get its own song), and which wasn’t a successful film/Bond, partially because of its inability to stand on its own (in my opinion). Was “Writing on the Wall” a link to the spray painted “James Bond” name in the old MI6 building?
On that note, I despised the way they brought back all the dead people from Craig’s movies. Why that continuity? Why now? If this wasn’t a send off for Craig as Bond, it’s going to feel really inadequate when Craig goes back to forgetting the past, per usual. It feels like he needs to walk away. I like him as Bond, but given the grievance of bringing up his entire past, and then running off with Ms. Swann, it’s time for Craig to go.
Speaking of Bond’s past… It was an interesting connection between James and the leader of SPECTRE. I liked it, a whole lot actually–more than anyone I’ve talked to it, seems. I like that it sort of gives context to all the earlier films with Blofeld as Bond’s main nemesis. This movie shows it’s personal without discrediting that it’s Bond’s job, with MI6, to battle him. However, I have to agree that it is a little rushed. Bond just sees this photo and admits to this longstanding (that we didn’t know about) feeling that his brother-from-another-mother is still around? Pishposh. Particularly when these Craig films spend so much time relating to one another. SPECTRE as an organization, sure, that’s sort of pulled through all the movies. But this man? Not at all.
Also, I’m done with the internal intrigue and the drama. I’m sick of MI6 agents being the enemy, and exhausted with Bond threatening to leave and go rogue. Let’s put him back on his desk and let an outside be the villain again, what do you say?
The ultimate decision: a let down.
I hate telling people that. They’re so excited to ask me about it, and I hate being like, “Eh.” In reality, it’s not a let down as a Bond film (that’s only QoS, which is a letdown as any kind of film) but I find it underwhelming in that it doesn’t stand as strong as Casino Royale or Skyfall (which is an admittedly impossible movie to follow). It has so many amazing elements–and we all knew that going into it–that expectations did not meet reality.
That being said, I can’t wait to buy the DVD and watch it again, because it’s Bond and it is still great.