Anghus Houvouras on Spectre…
Sweet, sweet hyperbole. Where would we be without you?
Let’s just put it out there: Spectre was terrible. A lazy, lifeless, sloppily put together excuse for a 007 outing. It had all the elements of a 007 outing: action, espionage, scenic locations, beautiful women. However, none of it seemed to click. I contend that Spectre may very well be the worst Bond movie ever made. Here’s why…
1. It’s Lazy
There’s a moment towards the end of Spectre which seemed to encapsulate the laziness of this latest Bond outing. Bond as his lovely accomplice are trying to shoot their way out of SPECTRE’s super secret lair. Bond fires a couple of bullets into a fuel tank and continues towards a helipad to make his escape. As they ascend a staircase, multiple explosions ensue. Bond pauses and watches the chain reaction unfold as a massive fireball engulfs the entire facility. There is so little effort made in this escape. A handful of gunshots and Bond is able to destroy the entire base. There’s a difference between ‘cool super-spy effortlessness’ and ‘lazily staging an action scene’.
In the finale, Bond is able to duplicate his gunslinging success by shooting down an airborne helicopter from a boat with his Walther PPK. Apparently Bond now has the ability to blow up enemy bases and take down helicopters with nothing more than a single clip of ammunition. Speaking of the finale, the film is so lazy that it both starts and ends with action scenes involving helicopters.
Everything in Spectre is lazy. However, nothing is lazier than how the plot is connected. ‘Q’ is given a ring from a member of Spectre. Upon scanning it, he discovers the entire interconnected plot of the last three Bond movies. What kind of secret criminal organization codes their entire plot onto the ceremonial ring given to every member?
It’s these kind of lazy choices that only exist to advance a plot that becomes more senseless the more brain cells you devote to unraveling it’s idiocy.
2. It’s Stupid
I can forgive stupidity. Big budget movies rarely exert an IQ much higher than Forrest Gump’s. However, Spectre takes stupid to new levels. We establish early on that after Bond’s parents are killed, he is raised for several years by a mountain climbing enthusiast and a ski instructor. So when Bond’s new lady-friend is kidnapped is being driven down a snowy mountain by the Agents of SPECTRE, how does he rescue her?
He goes to the airstrip and gets a plane.
What? You spent time establishing he was fostered by a guy who knew how to ski, take Bond to a snowy mountain paradise and then have a rescue involving skiing?
3. The worst Bond villain ever?
Has there ever been a bigger cinematic wasted opportunity than Christoph Waltz in Spectre? What should have been a grand slam ended up being a grand disaster. Waltz is given so little to do and is saddled with a twist so idiotic that even M. Night Shyamalan called it ‘poorly conceived’. How do you screw up Blofeld this badly? By trying to make some kind of connection between Bond and Blofeld that makes precious little sense. In fact, the more i thought about it, the more the plot of Spectre seemed to resemble Austin Powers in Goldmember. You remember: the one where Doctor Evil learns he’s actually the son of Austin’s father Nigel Powers. A tragic accident separates young Doctor Evil from his father and then he’s raised by a Dutchman who turns him evil? This is basically Spectre’s big reveal.
Blofeld was a stunning disappointment. He’s supposed to be menacing and incite fear, but he’s nothing more than a sinister accent in a Nehru jacket. Hey broccoli family: if you’re going to steal Doctor Evil’s origins, couldn’t you at least have thrown in Sharks with some freakin’ lasers?
4. It’s joyless
This is the biggest sin committed by Spectre: they’ve sucked all the fun out of James Bond. Yes, Moonraker was atrocious. Die Another Day was deplorably goofy. But they at least had some levity, humor, and a sense of character.
I would call Spectre the worst Bond movie because it lacks joy. There’s no fun to be had here. Not from the dead-eyed Daniel Craig who seems unconnected to the character and the material. Not from an uninspired, lifeless screenplay full of dialogue so obtuse it often feels like a series of non-sequiturs assembled by a scriptwriting algorithm.
Spectre was a bad film. A painful, sloppily assembled mess of the very clichés the Bond franchise helped make famous. And, by my estimate, the worst of the Bond films.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker and the co-host of Across the Pondcast. Follow him on Twitter.