I’m a little late on this, but it’s been rattling around in my head…
I’m kinda frustrated with the latest James Bond movie. It’s been two weeks since I’ve seen it, and it’s still bothering me.
I like a good Bond movie. I’m not the biggest Bond fan in the world, but I look forward to the movies. And I quite like Daniel Craig as Bond. Once we all accept that Connery originated the part and is, by default, the first and best (I got in a discussion online with someone arguing that Timothy Dalton was the best Bond. Courageous. Deeply, deeply wrong, but courageous) then Craig is probably the best in the role.
Casino Royale remains my favourite and as Cathy will tell you with a roll of her eyes, it also contains my favourite scene. And no, it’s the pakour footrace or the chase at Miami airport…it’s Bond and Vesper’s first meeting on the train. “How was your lamb?” “Skewered. One sympathizes.” It’s one of my absolute favourite exchanges in any movie, let alone a Bond.
Quantum of Solace was a mess, of course, and elements of Skyfall just don’t work for me, but I can’t deny that it’s a very good movie, beautifully shot and the best Bond theme since The World is Not Enough. So there’s all that…
I don’t even mind the first 2/3rds of Spectre. There’s a couple of nice action scenes, particularly the car chase in Rome (suspend your disbelief there’s no traffic in Rome, even in the middle of the night), a good, menacing henchman, a spectacular cold open in Mexico and once again it is absolutely beautifully filmed. It’s stunning to look at.
But man, does it ever go off the rails when Bond meets the big bad in his secret base in Africa. Literally nothing in the movie makes sense after that. It’s not even that it doesn’t make sense, it’s that it’s deeply stupid. It’s like they brought in a different screenwriter who doesn’t like Bond movies.
I’m not the only one perplexed by how off the rails the movie gets in the last 30 minutes or so. My favourite is the theory that the last part of the movie is a delusion by Bond. That he’s actually still being tortured, dying, and the last part of the movie – escaping, getting the girl, stopping the bad guy and saving the country (oh, like that’s a spoiler for a Bond movie) - is all just a hallucination.
Now that would be dark. Imagine a 5th Craig Bond movie with him waking up in a security ward, brain damaged, broken from being tortured and that everything in the last 30 minutes was just a delusion. He failed and everyone he knew from MI6 is dead or gone. He’s now out of his mind, a danger to everyone, and needs to be put down. Put down, possibly, by the new 007…
It’ll never happen, of course. And it’s not like a badly written Bond movie is unusual. The franchise is 50 years old. There are lots of bad Bond movies. There are lots of villains that don’t work. When the henchman who says exactly one word in the movie is the best villain, then you’re in trouble. Both Christoph Waltz and Andrew Scott look deeply bored. They were always going to struggle to match Javier Bardem, who was amazing, but they didn’t even try really hard. Talk about the banality of evil.
(The only use for Scott's 'C' is to be the punchline for the best line in the movie, delivered by Ralph Fiennes 'M'. Bond doesn't even get the best quip.)
And if this is Craig’s last one, well, he managed to land one of the best entries in the franchise, and another that’s pretty close to the top. One clunker and one meh is a small price to pay. Look at Roger Moore’s record as Bond.
Besides, if the ending is disappointing (but, I might add again, beautifully shot. London has rarely looked better) it’s nothing compared to the horror show that is the opening theme. Sam Smith’s song is just wretched. Easily the worst since Madonna’s Die Another Day. But at least that had Madonna’s mystique around it. It gives it a certain shield. This is just terrible. You’re actively wishing for the credits to be over so the song will stop and the misery will end.
The only thing more perplexing than the producers and director thinking the last 30 minutes of Spectre made any sense was them listening to this song and thinking it was any good. Gah.
1. A simple game of genius – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
2. Lie to me – Tom Waits
3. I’ll be alright – Passion Pit
4. First place in a space race – The Kremlin
5. Bay blues – The Stills