So in 2015 British Intelligence finally realised that throwing gin soaked sociopaths that shag anything that moves, use their real names and generally cause mayhem and destruction wherever they go perhaps isn’t the best way to protect the homeland. Bang up job guys, took you long enough. The discontinuation of the double 0 program acts as the backbone of the plot as Bond hunts the eponymous Spectre organisation (which is retconned to have influenced all of the Craig Bond movies – having seen them is almost mandatory), and is one of the main reasons that the movie fails to land.
MI6 moving to digital surveillance may make sense from a practical point of view, but It makes for boring viewing. Listen Hollywood, people generally don’t give two shits about mass data collection. The fictional new “Nine Eyes” program in Spectre is based on the real world Five Eyes program that has been around since the 50s, the NSA can and does spy on your telephone and internet data (they are probably wondering right now what you are doing wasting your life reading nonsense like this). Privacy died and no one cared, don’t try to use it as a plot device.
The other reason that the movie doesn’t work is its technical shortcomings.
There is a very tense and excellent scene where we are first introduced to Spectre. It paces itself perfectly and is dark both in colour and content; most of the information is conveyed to the audience through blocking and visuals alone. This masterful scene then gives way to an overlong car chase that contains inelegant exposition, brutal violence and a bizarre attempt at slapstick humour. Look either have the old campy Bond with the wacky gadgets or have the new gritty Bond with the death wish, just pick a consistent tone for fucks sake.
Next on the chopping block is the cinematography and pacing. Hoyte van Hoyterma (Interstellar, Her) knows how to shoot a scene, the impressive opening tracking shot is proof of that. The problem however crops up during the (excruciatingly slow) second act where we are treated to gratuitous shots ripped straight out of this month’s Armani catalogue of the main characters standing around looking cool in suits. When I am spending a good deal of the running time wondering how Bond folds three suits, guns, extra ammo and multiple sunglasses into one small bag, your movie is either boring or overlong – in this case both.
Lastly, in the past the character of James Bond has always been somewhat of a cipher. You only ever got glimpses of what made this man who he is. Skyfall stands as a perfect example of this, it revealed things about Bond we didn’t know and left the audience wanting more. Spectre on the other hand makes big sweeping reveals that I won’t spoil here except to say they add nothing except for silly twists and more minutes to an already long runtime.
When all is said and done, Spectre left me feeling disappointed. Which isn’t to say there isn’t entertainment to be had, if you can last through the slower parts and overlong action sequences there is a sense of unstructured fun. Then again the same could be said of chucking a sickie, drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels and ending up in a McDonald’s playground. In the end I don’t highly recommend either.
Since Daniel Craig has made noises about how Spectre may be his last Bond film, I humbly submit the following suggestions as to who should be the next 007.