DVD REVIEW: Spectre

Beware: this review contains spoilers...


For someone who calls himself a 007 geek, I didn't see Spectre at the pictures. This was double strange considering I loved Skyfall, and Daniel Craig is my second favourite Bond*, but the marketing didn't grab me at all and the early opinions from people I trusted were anything but glowing. But now it's out on home video, I decided to give it a chance.

Everything seemed back to normal at the end of Skyfall - a new M, Moneypenny, and a chance for Bond to get back in the saddle for some new adventures away from Quantum. Oops. After a decent pre-credit sequence in Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebration, Bond finds himself grounded in London while MI6 merge with MI5, and new boss C wanting to shut down the 00 program. Thing is, Bond was in Mexico to kill someone on the orders of Judi Dench's M (making a post-death appearance on a VHS), but this person again seems to be a part of something bigger. Spectre.

Spectre is the weirdest film. Imagine a corridor at EON: from the left comes someone carrying the script to Thunderball, from the right another person carrying the script to Moonraker. They collide, and both scripts are hopelessly entangled without rhyme or reason. It follows the previous exploits of Craig's 007, with the hard-edged action barely stepping back from the parody line, but has a bunch of weird comedy moments straight out of the Roger Moore back catalogue. However, Craig doesn't really seem like he wants either, and just looks very bored throughout the whole thing.

The scenes involving women are worse; Bond's lover/companion Lea Seydoux is pretty unconvincing. Craig and Seydoux themselves have less romantic chemistry than Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, and Seydoux's tired "I don't want to be rescued, I can handle myself" shtick is worse considering she keeps being Bond's Olive Oyl, with Dave Bautista's Mr Hinx a quite good Bluto. Bautista is probably the most interesting character in the film, especially after gouging someone's eyes out at the Spectre AGM. Being served a worse fate than ol' no-eyes is Monica Bellucci, the supremely talented actress who is ickily seduced by Bond in his old ways of fucking women to get information and not really caring if they get killed or not (the latter is funnily addressed at one point). And Moneypenny is back at being Bond's info stooge, although we do see she has a life outside MI6, and when I say life, I mean someone else in her bed.

And then there's Christoph Waltz. Yes, of course he is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, although previously he was Franz Oberhauser who mysteriously died along with his father. Turns out orphaned Bond grew up with them, and, well - you remember that bit in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves where Christian Slater tells Kevin Costner that he hates him because their father liked him more? This is basically the whole deal with Blofeld, who not only has a fluffy white cat but ends up at the end with a big facial scar and cloudy eye. And Waltz is terrible. So boring. It's a horrible waste - he's such a fine actor, and he's just given these dreadful cliched lines and weird plot which basically amounts to him taking away Bond's memories. Spectre itself never really figures in the plot, just being placed as a shadowy organisation whose other head honcho is a dead giveaway from the moment we meet him.

Oh, and the action sequences are so dull. There's a in-helicopter fight that goes on for ages, a car chase with Bond's brand new Aston Martin that feels like it's going at 10mph, and, well I've forgotten what else. Everything seems half-hearted, be it Thomas Newman's okay (I guess) score (although maddeningly he's still using that ten-year old Bond theme arrangement by David Arnold) or the cinematography. Remember Deakins and that silhoutte fight? The fire on the Scottish moors? All we get here is an oddly yellow filter and little else to recommend. Oh, and that fucking Sam Smith song? DIRE.

The funny thing is, I enjoyed it for a while, in the same way I enjoy Octopussy. But after a while it just grinds on you, especially as it goes on forever - two and a half hours is far too long for something this half-baked. The third act in particular is absolute rubbish, and the denouement is a damp squib. The best thing about Spectre is that it finally begins with the gunbarrel, but from there everything is downhill.

The rumours are flying about that Spectre will probably turn out to be Daniel Craig's last venture as James Bond. As someone who adores Craig's Bond, this is a terrible prospect, that after such success he could go out on such a bloody awful note. A lot of people disliked Skyfall, but at least it felt fresh, it felt different. It felt like it wasn't afraid to try new things, and it's hard to believe both Skyfall and Spectre have the same director. There was a track on the Skyfall soundtrack called 'Old Dog, New Tricks' - reverse that and you have Spectre. Same old shit, different day.

*After DALTON, of course.

- Charlie

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