‘Spectre’ is the biggest disappointment of the year

*Writers Note*

Few spoilers lie ahead and my sincere apologies if you disagree with my review of the latest Bond film.

In the shadow of its much more ambitious and noteworthy big brother, the 24 Bond movie Spectre”, can’t live up to the precedent of the better entries in the franchise. It can’t live up to much at all.

Spectre” isn’t necessarily a bad movie as much as it is a disappointing one. Things are not originally what they seem when 007 travels to Mexico in what is seemingly a cold open only for sequel syndrome to kick in and begin picking up threads and threats from previous installments.

Utilizing the theme of death and legacy, the first minutes involve Bond being sent on a post-mortem mission by the now deceased Judi Dench incarnation of M, through Mexico’s Dia De Muertos, a holiday traditionally spent honoring the dead and their legacy.

It’s the only portion of the movie where the scripts plotting of themes, characterization, and set piece approach work in unison to bolster a movie worthy of awards praise. All that is swept away once the true “plot” (if we can call it that) kicks into high gear.

In order to fully understand why Spectre” does and doesn’t work requires history of Bond knowledge. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is a global organization bent on shaping the world in its unique vision similar to Hydra from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why? Because the plot reads like a Wikipedia version of the much superior spy film Captain America: The Winter Soldier”; only without the emotional attachment, action craft, and sheer optimism of heroic ideals.

However, the original incarnation of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is woven into a tapestry as recurring Bond villains since the inception of “Dr. No”. After being unusable for decades during a license dispute, they’re shoehorned into a series of plot revelations and coincidental storytelling that leaves your ears ringing from the mind-numbingly stupid creative decisions.

This take on the organization doesn’t work because while a shadowy organization that has hands everywhere is intriguing, they’re forced to be responsible for previous conflicts in Bond’s life. Why? No spoilers but once the revelation is told, it was as if one’s jaw hit the floor.

Not from amazement, but from dumbfounded unbelievability. A retroactive poisoning of two great and one good Bond movie during Daniel Craig’s run is a bummer. It’s a real shame. If not for Spectre‘s” poorly handled script (it reads worse on paper), Craig would have had the best run of all the actors who have portrayed Bond in previous films.

There are however a few things to enjoy about the film. Dave Bautista is good and nobody hams up a performance like Christoph Waltz. Lea Seydoux is a fun Bond girl and Monica Bellucci gets to be the oldest Bond girl to date (unless you count Judi Dench who was technically the Bond girl in Skyfall”).

Even the most positive aspect turn out to be be a disservice. Bautista’s screen time is far too short, Waltz leaves zero impact, Seydoux is weighed down by bad writing, and Bellucci is a cameo at best. The action becomes flat and stale, lacking the precision in the opening sequence or the excitement of Casino Royale’s” foot chases.

At least it all looks pretty. Hoyt Van Hoytema’s fluid camera movements and colorization of scenes leaves little to be desired, easily earning himself comparisons to the previous director of photography, Roger Deakins.

All this being said, “Spectre” will most likely appease most Bond fans. It’s not “campy” enough to be a fun film and it’s not scripted well enough to be taken seriously. Sorry, Spectre” is the biggest disappointment of 2015.

*Editorial Note*

Diego Crespo is a film critic who may have cringed a few times when watching this film. Follow him on Twitter – @deggowaffles