Note: This review will contain spoilers for Spectre.
The very likely last James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig ends not with a bang but a whimper. It's not as bad as Die Another Day but, really, that's a tremendously low bar to set in a series which has twenty-four movies. However, the excellent acting and stunts don't disguise this is a medicore script designed to tie around the return of an organization which has already had its appearance spoiled by the title.
The premise is James Bond assassinates a member of the Quantum organization (revealed to be a branch of Spectre) in Mexico City. This causes the destruction of half-a-city block and gets Bond suspended but doesn't stop him from investigating the parties responsible. Meanwhile, MI6 is getting merged with MI5 and part of this event will include a massive new networked information database spearheaded by C (Andrew Scott). Tracking down the mysterious Mister White (Jesper Christensen), he is put on the trail of Hans Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz).
Spectre centers around the revelation the filmmakers must think is terribly clever and that is Hans Oberhauser is Blofeld. Which is about as much of a surprise as the main villain of Star Trek: Into Darkness being Khan. Unfortunately, the movie fully enters hack territory by revealing Hans/Blofeld is actually James' foster brother and all three previous movies were secretly plots by him to ruin James' life.
|The Illuminati scene is the movie at its best. Despite, you know, Bond infiltrating it with great ease.|
I don't mind the wielding of arcs and was of the mind Quantum should be a branch of Spectre since Quantum of Solace. The treatment in the book, however, diminishes Skyfall and villains like Raoul Silva as well as Mister White. It even diminishes Bond's relationship with Vesper Lynd as it makes her a target of his foster brother's revenge rather than someone who already had her own interesting plotline.
|Monica and Craig have amazing on-screen chemistry which is...well, utterly wasted.|
Christoph Waltz is probably the best actor you could have gotten for playing Blofeld but, ultimately, the character he's playing is closer to Javier Bardem's Silva than Donald Pleasance or Telly Savalas' Blofeld. He seems to be sleepwalking through the wall as well, keeping the quiet menace from his Inglorious Basterd's role but lacking any of the humanizing or quirky touches which made him so terrifying. The best moment in the movie is when he talks about Spectre's business at an Illuminati-esque boardroom, all the while knowing James is present just to screw with him.
Craig, himself, gives a Journeyman's performance rather than a masterwork but he doesn't embarrass himself either. He's been pretty vocal about his boredom with the constant ups and downs of his Bond career but is too professional on-screen to show it. The best moments in the movie are with Monica Belluci and its with her Craig shows the most onscreen chemistry. It's a pity she's not the primary love-interest as the two of them could have probably done an excellent movie together. Oldest Bond girl or not, Monica Belluci is Monica Belluci and sizzles on the screen even with a bit part.
|Lea Seydoux might as well be a piece of art in the movie for how much she's allowed to act.|
I also found any real chemistry between them blunted by the fact James is sleeping with the daughter of the man who murdered the (1st) love of his life. Madelaine's origins vaguely resemble those of Tracy Bond but the story doesn't give her the room to grow Diana Rigg had. As a character, she reminds me of From Russia With Love's Tatiana more than Vesper or Tracy, a case rather than a romance.
Which is a pity.
|The best fight in the movie is wholesale stolen from, well, From Russia with Love.|
In conclusion, Spectre is probably the poorest offering of Daniel Craig's time as Bond. As much as people harp on Quantum of Solace, with good reason, both Bond girls were well-developed and there were some genuinely affecting emotional moments. This is just dross and ties up loose ends which barely needed tying up to begin with.