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WARNING: VERY MILD SPOILERS
Spectre is a frustrating movie. I want to like it – I love Bond films – and to an extent, I do. The film has some great action (like all Bond films do), and Daniel Craig is perfect as James Bond – he seems so comfortable in the role and really has made it his own while incorporating the trademarks of the character. However, the film has so many issues that I would find it tough, as a fan, to sit down and sit through it multiple times.
Much of the problem with Spectre is that the story is incredibly over-plotted and becomes a bit too convoluted for its own good. I am still not 100% sure what the villain’s ultimate goal was. I get the fact that the Spectre organization was trying to manipulate world governments into creating an uber-surveillance system which would then allow them to have access to it as well. But for what reason? What evil plot are they going to do with it? It is incredibly muddled on what the endgame is here.
But, I suppose that is minor when it comes to the other element of Spectre’s main villain, Oberhauser (a much underutilized Chrisoph Waltz). He isn’t really menacing (mostly due to unclear plans and goals), and the film ham-fistedly tries to make a personal connection between him and Bond. This revelation comes two-thirds of the way though the film, and it doesn’t land. At all. There is no emotional resonance in the connection because the film does nothing of substance with it.
There is more I can talk about Oberhauser as a character and the direction he is taken in, but I don’t want to spoil the film. I will spoil this: you know he’s evil because he wears shoes without socks. Only criminal masterminds do this.
Spectre is really ambitious in that it tries to connect all the Daniel Craig Bond films together as one massive, story arc. I like this idea – in theory. It just doesn’t quite work because the film doesn’t give enough explanation behind it. I’m all for not spoon-feeding an audience, but something like this needs to be better defined and cleared-up for an audience to really accept it. I’ve read elsewhere that there were scenes exploring this further, but were cut for time. That’s a shame, because I would really have liked to see this angle explored more.
Speaking of time, Spectre is incredibly long at nearly 2.5 hours. You feel the length. The first half has way too many breadcrumbs for Bond to follow to effectively set-up the story and by the finale climax, you are ready for it to be over. I can’t help but wonder if the film could have been streamlined, some of the plot issues could have been ironed out.
I feel bad dumping on Spectre, because there is stuff to like. I was entertained for the most part. The action sequences are great. They are fun and though it doesn’t break new ground, they are very Bond. Additionally, everything is shot very nicely. Spectre is a beautiful film, and I love how it opens with a prolonged continuous shot (I’m a sucker for those).
Daniel Craig is in perfect form as James Bond. He really seems really comfortable as the secret agent, and the writing team were finally able to make Craig a bit wittier with the wisecracks. Up until now, I feel he has kind of struggled with that. I also love how the Bond series is expanding the roles of the supporting characters (M, Q, Moneypenny, and Tanner), and making them part of the action.
Spectre can be fun at times, and it is worth seeing the spectacle on the big screen. That said, there have been better Bond films and there have been worse. Spectre was ambitious and I appreciate that they tried to tie-up some of the remaining Quantum organization plot threads from the earlier Craig films. It just doesn’t land as well it probably could (and likely should) have.