A new James Bond film opens in Indian theatres this weekend. So if you’re in the mood to watch a not-quite-superhero movie from a franchise that has been usurped by actual superhero movies, the Fast & Furious series and the Bourne trilogy (we don’t acknowledge the existence of The Bourne Legacy), be prepared to be seated for a butt-numbing two-and-a-half hours.
For reasons I don’t even want to understand, the minds behind the Bond enterprise have seen fit to try and tie all the Daniel Craig movies together–think of it as the worst advised version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU for short) if you will. And apparently the best way to tie it all up is to somehow make all this espionage and world-ending supervillainery about a certain family. Sigh.
Remember when Bond villains used to have agendas that were so outlandish that they involved lasers, and sharks, and henchmen with metal teeth and golden guns? Those days are gone. Now the Big Bad (Christoph Waltz) wants to control the world by watching us all. Isn’t that the type of stuff the folks behind Facebook or Apple get accused of every other day? Where is the entertainment in a idea like that? Also, didn’t the MCU already do that with the the second Captain America movie?
The film begins with a ‘long take’ through Mexico’s Day Of the Dead celebrations–no doubt taking a page out of the Birdman book. But the cuts that immediately follow that long take are so jarring that we don’t quite appreciate that Bond has just escaped a falling building. And–I’m sensing a theme here–didn’t they already destroy a building in Casino Royale?
This is a Bond movie so naturally we do a little bit of travelling. I can recall London, Rome, some part of Austria, some part of North Africa, and a return to London on the travel itinerary. Modes of transport include boats, prototype cars, helicopters, planes, and even a train. A lot of destruction, lots of things going boom, lots of guns going bang, and an indestructible henchman played by Dave Bautista who just doesn’t match up to the classic Bond villains in terms of just being outlandish, y’know? But he does make Bond work hard, maybe even sweat a little, so there is that going for him.
As for the Bond Girls…sigh. Again. Monica Bellucci is little more than a glorified extra. And while Léa Seydoux looks good, and is normally a good actress, there is only so much a girl can do with bad dialogue and ill-fitted dresses.
And the Bond Villain himself? Mr. Waltz’s character appears towards the beginning of the movie and then promptly disappears for a significant portion of the film. When he does return he talks way too much, practices a form of torture that suggests he was a dentist in a past life, and well, it’s Christoph Waltz so naturally there can be no hand-to-hand combat between him and Mr. Craig. So that, is that.
Final Analysis: When a film goes on for as long as Spectre does, and it is clear that everyone is just going through the motions, I was left to think about the fit of Mr. Craig’s suits, and Ms. Seydoux’s dresses. Both actors have to deal with clothes that alternate between very flattering and poorly fitted. Product placement abounds, the huge cast of characters is given precious little to do, and the ones who do actually get something to do give off the feeling that they aren’t doing enough.
My Advice: If you are a Bond completist who needs to have watched all the movies, or if you are a Daniel Craig fan and fancy the idea of watching him do his Fit Uncle saunter in disturbingly tight pants this movie is for you. The rest can watch a pretty sunset. I am quite certain it will take less time.