The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » Monthly - December 13, 2015
Film review
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The 24th James Bond movie is a major letdown. One of pop culture’s biggest icons deserves better, but it seems that ever since Daniel Craig took over as agent 007, only every other movie is up to scratch. The sensational Casino Royale from 2006 was followed by the much weaker Quantum of Solace in 2008 and after the very good Skyfall from 2012 comes Spectre, a mixed bag that at times gets plain boring.

You can’t help but wonder what the producers were aiming for exactly. On the one hand, Spectre tries hard to be a logical follow-up to the other three movies starring Craig, but on the other, it is loaded with references to much earlier installments in the series, featuring Sean Connery and Roger Moore in the leading role. Spotting the references might be fun for avid Bond fans, but the average viewer will be less impressed.

The most obvious reference to previous films is the main villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who appeared in no less than seven Bond movies in the past. This time, the evil mastermind with a white cat in his lap is played by Christoph Waltz (Django, Inglorious Basterds), in a rather unfortunate piece of casting. Waltz verges on self-parody as he parades around in much too short pants, his bare feet in slippers and his jacket reminiscent of the sartorial style once favored by Communist Party bigwigs in China.

The “Bond girls” (as they are still widely referred to in the media, even in an age of political correctness) are badly miscast in Spectre as well. One is played by 51-year-old Monica Bellucci (Malena, Irreversible, Matrix 2 and 3), who gets very little screen time and even fewer lines. Bellucci’s character becomes romantically involved with Bond just three days after he shot her husband, a terrorist. How unconvincing is that? Things are even worse with the main female character in Spectre, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux—Blue Is the Warmest Color, The Grand Budapest Hotel). She is the daughter of Mr. White (Jesper Christensen—Melancholia, The Interpreter), a mysterious assassin working for an international criminal organization in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Swann comes across as deeply irritating, with neither charisma nor anything meaningful to say, though admittedly, you can hardly blame the latter on the actress. Bond could be forgiven for falling in love with Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, but the idea of him falling for a bland character like Swann sounds like a bad joke. The closing scene in which Bond does a Gary Cooper a la High Noon and leaves London with Miss Swann at his side calls to mind a South American soap opera.

On the acting side, Spectre is saved by Craig and the other Bond regulars. Ralph Fiennes (The Constant Gardener, The English Patient, Harry Potter movies) delivers as M, as do Ben Whishaw (Perfume, Cloud Atlas) as Q and Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Street Kings) as Moneypenny. Bond newcomer Andrew Scott (Pride) does well in the compelling role of C, a corrupt young politician and new chief of Britain’s secret services, determined to create a transnational surveillance system covering the entire globe. But try as they might, not even good actors can make up for what every good movie needs: a well-written script.

Witold Żygulski