Friday, November 6, 2015

Too Much Plot: Spectre



This review originally appeared on SFist.com.

I have a conflicted relationship with James Bond movies. In some respects I find them quite boring, as they always follow the same story arcs, and predictably end with Bond living to die another day. The main entertainment comes from the theme song, (can Adele just do them from now on because this new one by Sam Smith is a snooooze), the cool gadgets, the silly villains, and Bond himself. At least, that is, when he's played by Sean Connery. He is and will always be the best Bond.

But I will admit that Daniel Craig has grown on me. He's certainly below Connery in Bond rankings, but definitely above Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. And he's at his most appealing thus far in Spectre, which may or may not be his final Bond appearance. (If it is, I'm fine with that...as long as Idris Elba fills his shoes.)

In previous films, especially Skyfall, Craig's Bond has been a bit of a downer, coming this close to complaining he's too old for this shit, and looking almost bored by his bedroom conquests. In Spectre, which takes place soon after the events of Skyfall, he has some renewed purpose, going rogue by following the posthumous orders of his beloved M. In all, he's cockier, cracks a few more jokes, and seems a little more eager to get those Bond girls into bed.

The feared merging of MI5 and MI6 that was threatened in Skyfall comes to grim fruition in Spectre, while Bond follows a trail that leads him to the global crime syndicate, Spectre, and a possible connection between it, his past, and the future of MI5 and MI6.

Along the way, Bond visits the dry lands of Mexico and Africa, the snowy alps of Switzerland, and the crumbling ruins of his former offices; hooks up with a mafia widow, (played by the refreshingly age appropriate Monica Bellucci); teams up with the daughter of Quantum member Mr. White, (she's played by Lea Seydoux, who was the blue girl in Blue Is the Warmest Color); destroys one city block, several cars, and one plane; and eventually meets the head of Spectre, played by Christoph Waltz. It's probably not much of a spoiler to say who he is, but just in case I'll only say he has a white Persian cat, wears a Nehru jacket, and has a prominent facial scar...

Spectre's biggest problem is too much plot. While connecting all the Craig Bond films together in this (possibly final) entry may seem like a good idea, the result is way too confusing, and in some ways, just plain silly. (Sibling rivalry is the root cause of Spectre? Really?) The movie drags, at two-and-a-half hours, and by the end of it I was more than ready to leave that theater. Who can blame Daniel Craig for wanting to do the same?

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