Otherwise known as the-Bond-franchise-takes-a-trip-down-memory-lane-and-we-remember-that-road-was-pretty-damn-silly. This film was a real disappointment for me. I’d been looking forward to it for months and last night I headed over for the 9:30 showing at the Cinepolis. Thank god I was at the sybaritic theater with the big leather reclining seats with footrests and waiters ready to bring you food and alcohol. I should have gone with the alcohol. I almost ordered a margarita about halfway through the film. I wish I had.
Even in the cold light of morning I’m still trying to figure out just what the hell this movie was about. I know the plot — big organization has its tentacles in everything and is seeking world domination, but for some reason the villain is obsessed with James and has to screw with his life by killing every woman he’s loved and sending psychopaths after Bond because…..daddy?
This had the effect of undercutting all of Bond’s victories in the previous films because if it turns out the villains weren’t actually the real villain then Bond and M and everyone at MI-6 look like morons. There’s also the problem that if you were going to build on James being an orphan then they should have given us some hint of Oberhauser in Skyfall. Instead the foster father just comes out of nowhere. If these men had spent some years together in childhood then give me some sense of those years. If I’d been writing this I would have put Oberhauser on stage early. Have him come to James for help, make them companions, play the relationship and then reveal the jealousy and the betrayal.
There was more lazy plotting — “I went to Mexico City because M sent me a message from the grave.” Ugh. How about having the new M very concerned about this move to rely on technology rather than people and he sends Bond into the field? Or as I suggested earlier make Oberhauser the catalyst. Also, please don’t make the new spy/drone master part of Spectre. It made everything just feel too convenient. Also, they already played this beat in Skyfall with the clueless bureaucrats messing with the spies. I guess they thought having C be a traitor took the curse off. It didn’t. I liked having M be more involved in the action and Q was just great. Some of the action sequences were very exciting, but…….
When we finally meet Oberhauser/Blofeld complete with a white Persian cat I really started to have a huge amount of sympathy for Daniel Craig. I wanted out of the movie theater so I can see why he wants out of the franchise. Craig did seem to be sleepwalking through this movie. The entire scene at the North African secret lair with the torture chair device and the villainous monologue had me checking my watch. For me the gritty, grounded feel of the first films was what brought me back to being a huge Bond fan. (Didn’t hurt that Craig is gorgeous and a terrific actor), but this film seemed to go back to tired tropes. I think if you’re going to go flamboyant then it has to be embraced throughout the movie. This film felt schizophrenic as it bounced between camp and realism.
The women. Oy. There are precisely 3 in the film. The Italian widow who has maybe five lines. Moneypenny who gets to answer the phone. And Swan who gets to take Bond to a hotel room to discover an evidence stash and then, inexplicably, go with him to the Secret Lair even though she says she wants no part of her father’s world. Guess the sex was just that good. Here’s a personal note — Craig is looking his age which is fine for the idea of the weary warrior, but Léa Seydoux looked way too young for him. It kept pulling me out of the film.
I know the moment at the end where Bond doesn’t kill Oberhauser,and throws away the gun is supposed to be a big emotional moment but it felt contrived and almost an afterthought. If the theme was going to be “Bond decides to no longer be a killer” then that tension needed to be laid in throughout the entire film.
For me Skyfall worked so well because it had a coherent theme. It was about making cold, calculated decisions and the consequences of those choices. The irony (in the best way, the use of irony to highlight a story) is that the problem is solved not by M’s emotionless assessments, but by Bond making a purely emotional decision to protect this woman who has dominated his life.
I have no idea what the theme of this movie was supposed to be. I won’t be adding this Bond film to my collection.