Pages Navigation Menu

SPECTRE (review)


Written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth / Directed by Sam Mendes / Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz

James Bond (to a mouse): Who sent you? Who are you working for?

Presumably, you’ve seen SKYFALL, the last and most successful in the James Bond series. If you haven’t, you might want to stop reading now because I’m about to rehash exactly what happened in it. Essentially, AMERICAN BEAUTY director, Sam Mendes, came on to infuse the series with some much needed dramatic depth, which worked beautifully. By the time the film had come to a close, we learned a little more about where Bond (Daniel Craig) came from and what makes him tick, which was refreshing given that character development has never been this series’ strong suit. We also saw Judi Dench exit as M and Ralph Fiennes enter to replace her, as well as the reintroduction of classic Bond characters with a modern twist, including Q (Ben Wishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). After decades, James Bond felt new again, reenergized and ready to take the franchise into the future. Unfortunately, all of that momentum has been completely squandered in Bond’s new outing, SPECTRE.


To be fair, SPECTRE isn’t horrible. I wasn’t bored or disinterested at all during its two and half hour run time, but I wasn’t ever truly excited either. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what they were doing wrong at first either. Mendes returned to direct; the same screenwriters were on board again too. So what was missing? For starters, cinematographer Roger Deakins is sorely missed; his work on SKYFALL is often breathtaking and SPECTRE is often very flat, a disappointment overall for a great cinematographer, Hoyte Van Hoytema (HER, INTERSTELLAR). More so, I feel that all involved in SPECTRE just weren’t trying very hard, or really wanted to be there. It doesn’t help that Craig has publicly stated how he no longer wants anything to do with the franchise. I felt at times like that was evident on his face. Even his body language suggested he wasn’t really into it, and I think we can all agree that Craig’s body is usually very engaged and ready to go.


I can’t really blame him though. The SPECTRE screenplay is more or less a tired mess. After a major error in the field (which is to say, accidentally blowing up a building and essentially terrorizing a Day of the Dead crowd in Mexico City while fighting with a marked target in a helicopter above the parade itself), Bond is grounded by M. It turns out that the political tides are turning and MI6 and the double-O (00) program may be abolished entirely. Bond seems somewhat unfazed by this because he is debating walking away from it all anyway. If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because the exact same plot points have been dangled in front of us plenty of times before. This approach also irked me because it felt as though the intention was to subtly reboot the franchise last time out, and here they had just resorted back to the same dilemmas that they were leaving behind them; essentially regression over progression.


Then you have the supporting players of SPECTRE. Javier Bardem is surely hard to top, so far as evil psychotics go, but Christoph Waltz, who plays the mysterious leader of an evidently evil organization called Spectre, never gets near Bardem’s genius. He is literally shrouded in shadows when we first meet him, which is admittedly both cliche and kind of cool, but when he steps into the light, Waltz, a man who seems like he was born to play a Bond villain, pretty much fizzles out immediately. I was initially concerned he would over do it, but again, he isn’t given much to work with so therefore has to rely on his usual schtick to entertain us, which obviously it doesn’t. And then you have Lea Seydoux as Bond’s love interest. We are supposed to believe that this woman, of all the women James has been with, which I understand is quite a lot, is capable of seriously tempting him to leave his life as a spy and assassin. The trouble is that Seydoux does nothing with her part but pout and exude ennui. She can barely capture my attention when she is on screen so it is very hard to believe that she would be able to keep James’ focus past bedtime. (That said, Monica Bellucci is arresting in her brief appearance as the only Bond girl in history who was older than Bond himself.)


SPECTRE seems as though it wants to continue to put the James Bond franchise on a new path by suggesting that Waltz’s character and the Spectre organization itself have had their hands in all of James’ past missions, making them a definitive enemy for MI6 to take on in the go forward. The insertion feels false and forced though, like an obvious afterthought. In some ways, this is a throwback to Bond’s early days too, much like bringing Q and Moneypenny back was in SKYFALL, but what it harkens is a more ridiculous Bond history, which I felt they brought Mendes on specifically to avoid. By the time SPECTRE reaches its climax, there is very little at stake because everything feels so light and somewhat silly. Again, it isn’t painful to watch but it surely isn’t memorable either; nor does it hold a candle to what this same team (mostly) accomplished with SKYFALL. In the end, SPECTRE is just plain bland, James Bland.

3 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Spectre?


One Comment

  1. Nice review… here are my thoughts:

    Spectre does have its moments but it is one of the weakest of the four films starring Craig as 007. The culprit is its weak storyline and a runtime that’s the longest ever for a Bond film. However, the action is topnotch and the fight sequences featuring Daniel Craig and Dave Batista are the movie’s real highlight. Spectre proves to be a worthy addition to the James Bond film franchise but unlike Casino Royale and Skyfall it fails to leave a lasting impact. Spectre is an attempt on the part of the makers to pay homage to the classic 007 movies but the execution only reflects their confused state of mind. The creative think-tank must quickly decide if it wants to return to the classic 007 elements or build upon the new ones that Casino Royale brought in. Despite its aforementioned shortcomings, Spectre serves as a pleasant viewing experience and is a must watch for the Bond movie enthusiasts. 7/10

    My complete analysis can be read at:

Share Your Thoughts