Skyfall is my favorite film of the Daniel Craig era of James Bond and was a huge improvement over Quantum of Solace’s disappointing story. Director Sam Mendes combined a thrilling story with some of the most beautiful cinematography the Bond franchise has seen. Apparently lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice because his follow up with Spectre lacks everything that made Skyfall so great.
Spectre actually starts off with an amazing sequence in Mexico during a Day of the Dead parade as James Bond (Daniel Craig) conducts his own spying mission outside of MI6. It’s a beautifully shot scene as the camera follows Bond from the crowded streets of the city to the rooftops above in a single, spectacular take. Everything about the scene is pure Bond, from his suave nature to the gritty action. Unfortunately, it all starts to fall apart once the opening credits begin to roll.
The dead are alive. That’s the main premise for Spectre as it tries to dig up ghosts from Bond’s past and tie the previous three films together. Follow the trail of breadcrumbs, and it all leads back to Spectre, a mysterious criminal organization whose reach extends far across the globe. At its head is Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), a shady figure from Bond’s past previously thought to be dead. Everything in Spectre is connected to Bond’s past. The main problem is that it’s all entirely unbelievable.
The film wants to establish Spectre as this devious organization that has been the ones responsible for everything since the beginning but does a horrible job at convincing you of it. You’re just supposed to accept they’re behind Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene, and even Silva because Oberhauser says so. Christoph Waltz gives a solid performance as the film’s main villain, but he’s barely in the picture itself and mostly hides in the shadows awaiting his big reveal, which happens to be less-than-shocking for Bond fans. He’s hardly the intimidating mastermind he claims to be.
Regardless of how well the events of the films connect up, Spectre’s story is simply bland and doesn’t make much sense. It’s a confusing and jumbled mess that struggles in its storytelling. There were so many times I wondered how Bond went from one location to the next. At one point he and his new femme fatale Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) take a train to the middle of nowhere, where they are greeted by a classy driver who takes them to Oberhauser’s secret villainy lair in the middle of a crater in the desert. There’s no attempt to hide themselves. They just wait until this guy comes to take them away. It’s all very strange.
One aspect I did enjoy was Oberhauser’s right hand man, Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista). He’s basically the silent muscle throughout the film, and Bautista nails it perfectly. He’s pure brute force and is better a main villain than Waltz, which is unfortunate.
Spectre is supposed to be Bond’s most daunting opposition yet, but in the end it comes off as nothing more than an annoyance. There’s hardly anything memorable about the film, other than its spectacular opening. It’s a shame that things went downhill so quickly.