With the widely spread news that Daniel Craig has reportedly turned down an offer from Sony to feature in two more Bond films for $150 million, it feels like the perfect time to remind ourselves why a fresh take could be exactly what’s needed and that attempting to keep going as it is, is not a good strategy. To do so is simple enough, a review of Spectre. For those who’ve forgotten or don’t know, here’s what’s going on with Bond this time around; having received a cryptic message Bond (Craig) heads to Mexico City and Rome, finding himself on the trail of sinister organization SPECTRE and finding out not only about his enemies but his own past.
With the first two outings, Craig cemented his place as Bond and proved those wrong who believed he was either too short or too blonde to be Bond, but this time around it’s a different story, his performance feels tired and apathetic, you could mistake it for suave but as a viewer it feels much more like he’s putting out the feeling of “Can we just get this over with?”. The knock on issue with that is opening the film with scenes of seduction, this version of Craig just cannot convincingly have that instant romance, making it feel much more awkward rather than smooth. The introduction of Léa Seydoux to the franchise was a great choice, she can perfectly give that sense of mystery but pairing her with Craig is problematic, they aren’t a convincing couple, there’s not only a lack of chemistry but the clear age difference and lack of time within the story to generate a relationship that’s believable. Yet another problem being with the creation of Seydoux’s character who appears as a strong female but then placing her in a situation akin to damsel in distress which is extremely disappointing and contradictory. Then there’s the wonderful Christoph Waltz as Blofeld who simply doesn’t get his due here, he’s really struggled recently to take a villain role and actually have that role given sufficient time and development on screen, of course that’s an issue with writing and direction, rather than Waltz himself. Dave Bautista’s Hinx has the same problem but even worse, there’s a complete lack of introduction or background to the character that he feels completely irrelevant.
And the film’s problems continue past its character issues, most notably that the theme, tone and aesthetic of choice appears to be dull, it just lacks any vivacity or energy, even colour, of course you don’t expect it to be necessarily jolly but it just needs something more. There’s also precious little in the way of suspense or anticipation, leaving the audience without much attachment to the outcome which immediately lessens the watching experience. That essence is clearly in partnership with Craig’s performance, making Bond appear, although entirely capable of killing and maiming, unthreatening, he is no longer a name to be reckoned with, rather you just don’t want to be in his way when he’s on his way to catch the bus home. There’s limited elements of the film that aren’t lacking, this just isn’t a feature that would catch your eye if it was playing, except perhaps on the odd moments where something is exploding and adding some nice colour to a rather bland landscape, a vast shot covered in snow can be beautiful but not when everything is constantly grey.
Skyfall was always going to be a difficult act to follow, it’s a Bond film that even those who aren’t fans can enjoy, this is not that, the version of Bond we get here has been watered down. Craig is far from his best form, the same can be said for director Sam Mendes, the franchise may not be one generally with an abundance of emotion but here we need an injection of something fresh with more charm and elegance to make it work, because at the moment the whole thing just looks tired…or maybe it’s just not the same without Judi Dench.
So when you hear that Craig has turned down the ridiculous money to do more films, rejoice because this is one, of probably several when thought about, franchises that needs a change. Even just by looking at the variation in IMDB scores, you can see the disappointment of this film, Casino Royale with a very strong 8, Skyfall with a slightly less but still impressive 7.8 and Spectre is behind with a 6.8, even Suicide Squad has a 6.7 and we all know how much of a mess that was…