Spectre was one of the most eagerly awaited James Bond films of all times for me. I was waiting for this film for a variety of reasons. To start with, Sam Mendes delivered one of the best Bond films of all times with Skyfall and I expected him to go nowhere but up from where he left off last time. I consider the Sean Connery films to be the best Bond film made and a big reason behind that is the existence of organic chemistry that Bond shares with Spectre in almost all the films and its sinister Spectre No.1, Blofeld. So when a film titled Spectre was announced, it peaked my interest.
I was also waiting to see how the sensibility of the rather over the top Spectre would be interwoven into a narrative which would make sense in recent times. Christoph Waltz playing Blofeld was another huge puller for me. He has been doing excellent work of late and I was extremely excited to see him bringing his own style to the character. This film would also tie up all the previous Daniel Craig films as was made evident in the trailers. This was another interesting proposition for me as I really wanted to see how the director was going to pull that off.
However, after watching this film, I can safely say that I have been disappointed in all the departments that I have mentioned above. This is not a terrible Bond film like A View To A Kill or Moonraker, but is certainly weaker than Skyfall and Casino Royale. Let’s analyze it starting from the plot. M (Judi Dench) before dying left a cryptic message for Bond (Craig) ordering him to find a guy called Marco Sciarra and Kill him and then attend his funeral. Bond tracks the man down in Mexico and successfully eliminates him but not before causing a storm. M (Ralph Fiennes) is having a difficult time keeping MI6 afloat thanks to constantly mounting pressure from C(Andrew Scott) who is trying to integrate all the defense and surveillance systems of the world into one and then taking over it. He also wants to dis-continue the 00- program. Bond’s careless action in Mexico makes M’s position more vulnerable and he grounds Bond.
But Bond follows the orders of the previous M and attends the funeral of Sciarra in Rome and then hooks up with his wife played by a voluptuous Monica Bellucci. Learning from her, he lands up in a secret meeting of an organization that he will come to know in the future is called Spectre. He is chased off the meeting by a marauding Mr. Hinx (Bautista) but he makes way with the location of his next target which would be Mr. White if you remember Quantum Of Solace. Meeting Mr. White gives him a clear idea of the reach of the organization. He sends Bond after his daughter Madeleine(Léa Seydoux) who might now be a target for extermination. She is also the one who can take Bond to the Wolf’s Lair. Bond saves her and takes her under his wings after a brutal fight with Mr. Hinx and then the duo make way towards the middle of a desert for their rendezvous with Blofeld. As Bond battles the architect of all his pains, a man whose father practically raise him, M must fight a battle of his own to keep C from taking control of MI6.The matter gets tricky when Bond unfolds the truth behind C who is also a Spectre agent.
The film has great action sequences. The chase sequence in Rome, the fight aboard the train and also the first action sequence in Mexico looks good. They are well shot, well choreographed action sequences which will hold their own in any action film. But are they better than the action sequences of Skyfall? No! The first fight sequence of Skyfall set about the proceedings and gave you an idea of what was to come next. I was bitterly disappointed by the lack of novelty in the first action sequence here. It is followed up by a Bond score which is at best forgettable. Again in comparison to Adele’s Skyfall number, it would end up nowhere. Following the score, the film plunges into an almost hour long period which is somehow very ordinary. The introduction of Blofeld, the blink and miss role of Monica Bellucci and above all a lack of punch in the proceedings really irritates you. Anyways, I was still hoping that they must be saving the material for the second half.
In the second half too, the film goes nowhere for almost 15-20 minutes. Even though the story is progressing but you neither get any punch in terms of performances (remember Javier Bardem’s Silva from Skyfall) nor the screenplay sweeps you off your feet with twists and turns. The action is filmed and undertaken with flair but it lacks novelty. You constantly keep getting the feeling of being there and having seen it before which seriously spoils the fun.
Towards the end, Blofeld (Waltz) finally makes an appearance. He aristocratically sends a classic to pick up Bond and the girl from the station and then after a little chitchat wherein he explains his nefarious plans he starts torturing Bond. Gadgets come to the rescue as Bond swiftly blows a bomb on his face and literally blows his way out of his complex. It’s almost shocking to see how easily he makes his way out and then commandeers a helicopter which was left there for him to make his way to England. At this point the film lost me. For the first time in the last four Bond films, the director has finally given up the seriousness associated with the new films to the cliché antics and lack of logic of the Bond films of yester years. Back are the scenes where after a climactic battle with the villain, Bond and his Bond girl have time to kill and end up having sex but not before they have said it out loud just in case you missed the point.
The previous Bond films are connected to this one only because all the baddies from the previous three installments were Spectre agents. At least that’s what Blofeld has you believing and he goes to the point of postering his walls with their faces to show his ownership of the men. The character of Blofeld is lame and totally without teeth. An actor of Waltz’s range is wasted in a role which lasts about 10-15 minutes. The buildup that is created for him fizzles out in a matter of moments as we understand that this man is nothing but an extension of Bardem’s Silva from Skyfall but with lesser driving force and obviously much less guile. He has too short a screen time and is too less sinister to make an impact. Bond over powers him, scars him and then leaves him at M’s feet to get his due. That’s totally un-Blofeld-like. The character of Mr. Hinx, visibly designed on previous characters like Jaws and Oddjob is another let down. Even though Bautista has the physicality to take up the role, his character is just done in by some poor writing. He is also not scary enough. He doesn’t threaten nor do you feel for a second that he will pull Bond down.
The Bond girls in this film have probably the lesser to do than any previous film of recent years. Bellucci has one long kissing scene which was unfortunately cut short here in India by the censor board. Ironically the members watched it themselves and then didn’t let us watch it in the name of decency and Indian culture. We missed 90% of her role there itself. Léa Seydoux has a role in which she gets importance only twice. Once when she is the only one who knows where a place called “Lamerican” is and the second time when Blofeld recognizes her. The rest is her being by Bond’s side as he makes his way through the film. Speaking of Bond, Craig does a great job in a film which could be his last as James Bond. Some sequences here are worth watching simply because of the way he enacts them. He is my second most favorite actor to play Bond after Connery.
I really missed the sweeping cinematography of Skyfall. The film travels from Mexico to Rome to England to Austria to Tangier and then again back to England but is unable to provide a single frame which is worth saving as a wallpaper. Most of the film unfolds at night with a dimly lit setting which is again marred by lack of innovation. The action sequences are well shot but that much we expect from Bond films and its pretty much industry standards. The background score is impressive in the action sequences. Towards the end, it really contributes into making the fight sequences a tad bit more appealing. It has your heart pumping. However, the Bond score is a serious letdown. The editing is top notch. Again, the editor’s prowess is revealed in the action sequences.
Overall, Spectre disappointed me. Lack of novelty in the action sequences, morbid story, an undercooked Spectre angle which is ridden with cliché and “time induced deficiency” for the character of Blofeld, uninspiring action and a lack of pull are some of the reasons that disappointed me. Interestingly, these are the exact reasons which made me love Skyfall.