It’s been a while since I wrote one of these reviews, so bear with me.
SPECTRE, the latest and most anticipated installment of the 007 franchise. I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh reboots of 007 with Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. And now with the much welcome addition of the SPECTRE organization, which is basically the Legion of Doom of the James Bond franchise, I figured how on earth could this possibly be anything short of what could be the best Bond movie ever made?
Well… turns out it came up short. And then some.
A cryptic message from the late M (Judi Dench) puts Bond of an unsanctioned mission across the globe to track down and assassinate an infamous criminal. The widow of that criminal then tells Bond of the existence of an underground terrorist organization known as the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion—or SPECTRE for short. Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny and Q to help him seek out Madeleine Swann, the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White, who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE, and in doing so uncovers a chilling connection between him and the organization’s twisted leader.
As much as I enjoyed SPECTRE for all that it was worth, it was incredibly underwhelming and sometimes parodic in a lot of areas. It seems like the movie stripped away much of the character depth and minimalism that made Casino Royale so incredible and tried to go back to its relatively gimmicky roots, and even goes full-out Die Another Day in some areas. There are many nitpicks I can go on and on about, from almost completely nixing Bond’s previously established character development to the barely strung-together plot that suddenly and very suspiciously relied way too much on the plot elements from Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. However, my biggest issue is how they handled—or in this case, mishandled—SPECTRE leader Ernst Starvo Blofeld, and how greatly underutilized Christoph-f**king-Waltz was portraying him (watch Inglorious Basterds to see how menacing he can really be), especially when there were plenty of chances to make him a lot more sinister, and therefore infinitely more badass than he was currently portrayed, and the whole entire story suffered as a result. And it made zero sense to me that Blofeld built this massive criminal empire that’s so vast and just as untouchable that it could be described as being ‘everywhere’, and yet he uses all that power and all that global influence for the sole purpose of spending the past three movies trolling Bond (who turns out to be his adoptive brother, which in and of itself is a very unnecessary twist) on an obsessively personal level, and therefore turning what could’ve been the most ruthless political manipulator ever conceived, the likes of which would’ve rivaled that of Lex Luthor, into some overly jealous nutjob with daddy issues. Even Batista, with his domineering presence as Mr. Hinx, just kind of came and went with very little impact.
In fact, the whole entire movie, which may or may not be Daniel Craig’s last run as 007 as even he vocalized how he’d rather slit his own wrists than do another Bond movie, felt like it tried to go all Dark Knight Rises on me, which is in the sense that—at least for (possible) conclusion’s sake—the writers wanted to shove in our faces the reminder of how cool the past chapters were because they either ran out of any significant ideas to push the overall story forward, knew the Craig-era could be coming to an end, so they simply didn’t give a crap and did this one last thing just to be done with it all, or most likely both. And I probably would’ve been fine with it had the movie not introduce Blofeld the way they did, and then leave him alive in the end for the possibility of a return in a future sequel if Daniel Craig isn’t planning to come back for it.
Overall, SPECTRE turned out to be one big nostalgia-fanservice retcon, and a very botched one at that. Perhaps Craig sticking around for another sequel or two to put a satisfying conclusion to everything SPECTRE started would be very beneficial at this point, because it would be one hell of a disappointment for both his career and the integrity of 007 as a brand if this is where and how he chooses to leave the franchise.
SCORE: 3 out of 5