Shaken, Not Stirred
“Spectre,” the latest entry in the Bond film franchise, is an overly-long series of somewhat random acts and set pieces and mostly a disappointment. I won’t spoil the plot too much here, but here’s fair warning just in case:
Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.
~Jed Bartlet, The West Wing
Like Bond’s catch phrase, the newest film looked more impressive in the trailers than in the final product. Here are some things to consider:
Q and Moneypenny get more screen time, which is a nice change, but their involvement beyond exposition-dumping clues for Bond to follow is quite limited still.
Several scenes were long and self-indulgent – including a sequence showing Bond and a girl enjoying their train ride and their subsequent car ride to Blofield’s HQ. The whole thing was unnecessary to the plot except to show us that the Bond Girl this time could handle herself – even though she is not that helpful ever again. Lift that whole train ride out and we could saved a lot of screen time.
Spectre as an organization felt random. Rather than any clear foreshadowing in the previous films, the new bad-guy organization just asserts that the previous villains in the Daniel Craig era were all connected. Telling us won’t make us believe. Moreover, that fact felt unnecessary and too tacked-on.
Spectre’s motivations are unclear. They want technology and influence that, at several points in the film, it seems they already have. And the countdown to stopping them didn’t feel important because it was left to Q doing his work on his own and it wasn’t clear why it had to be stopped before the system went live.
Yes, the fight scenes were entertaining at times and Bond did bang a number of girls but I felt no real stakes in the scenes. In fact, I could have sworn Daniel Craig looked positively bored during the cold-open sequence. Similarly, I had no real reason to believe in the chemistry between Bond and the Bond Girl. He and Moneypenny had better chemistry in Skyfall, yet we’re to believe Dr. Swan is the one for whom he [SPOILER!] will leave the spy business.
Not a bad film overall, despite my criticisms here. It’s just, I was expecting more.