7 Things Wrong With Spectre

Heck we all love James Bond and either want to be him, or to bed him, or even both.  So why hate on big budget 007 action flicks?  Why not, that’s why!!

spectre 

1. James Bond is invulnerable

So here’s the thing: James Bond is a comic book super-hero.  He’s like Batman – he gets into all these impossible situations yet usually emerges completely unscathed.  Because he’s invulnerable.

And he’s not a spy.

I mean, he used to do, you know, actual stealthy snooping – if you look at older Bond movies you see a bit of that, but not so much any more.  In the very first scene of Spectre we see him walking along a roof-top assembling a rifle in plain view of the surrounding high buildings.  You spy and snoop when you care about getting caught, right?  Even infiltrating the Spectre secret meeting he just waltzes in.  Why wouldn’t you wear a goddamn disguise?!  With the amount of shenanigans that Bond gets up to, every villainous organisation in the world would have his mugshot up on the wall as a Most Wanted enemy #1.

Then he gets majorly beat up on a train but seemingly doesn’t have any ill effects whatsoever.  I mean, dude got properly mashed.  No wonder he doesn’t spy, or creep around – why would you need to, if you’re pretty much bullet-proof?

2. James Bond has no psychological depth

Things we know about James Bond:

- he’s an insanely cool maverick type

- he has a weakness for alcohol and women

- um… drawing a blank here… I guess he likes driving cars…?

(Side note: he does a lot of running but doesn’t seem to work on his fitness?  an expert marskman that never goes to a firing range?  A individual who is single-mindedly pursuing a shadowy organisation, but sabotages his own organisation at every possible opportunity with his maverick ways?)

Our invulnerable hero gets into plenty of crazy scrapes and loses every woman he ever loved and… it just makes him more cocksure and driven.  Or did I just say – cold-blooded assassin?

Maybe we all love him for that.  Fine, but if you’re Blofeld (OK, big if, but roll with me for a minute) and have supposedly been observing Bond for a long long time then even the most amateurish of psychological profiles is gonna show that the man is near impervious to mind-games… so… why not go ahead and set up a really elaborate trap which which shows all the people he cared about who got killed, that’ll rattle him, surely… which leads me to:

3. The villains are stupid

The garden-variety thugs can’t shoot straight (are they hired on the basis of whether they look good in black?), and have the single-mindedness of a claw hammer.  That’s all fine and in fact, completely expected in this kind of genre.  You can understand it.

But now consider James Bond skidding an out-of-control plane with no wings and no means of steering, and the bad guys in front of them just keep driving.  Why wouldn’t you just stop, pull over to one side, and let him crash?  Cos that’s only going to end one way, baby.  In fact, if you did anything other than driving on a collision course with this skidding plane, you’d be better off than what they ended up doing (hint: crashing).

But none of that holds a candle to the stupidity of Blofeld, the Spectre boss himself.  He knows that James Bond, someone he knows is incredibly dangerous and has been tracking for years, is in the big Annual Spectre Jamboree in Rome, but doesn’t make sure he can’t get away.  I can think of, oh, at least 15 ways he could do that, including:

- putting Bond’s car on bricks

- tasing Bond when least expected

- shooting Bond in the back

At least, and most obviously, wouldn’t you make sure at least 10 armed henchmen surround him when you tell him directly to his face that you know he is there?

I kindof also don’t really get the train-to-the-desert-hideout thing.  Bond gets attacked by the big henchman guy who, it seems to me, wants to freakin’ kill him, then when he survives that and gets off the train, Blofeld sends a car with chaffeur to pick him up from the train station.  Huh?  Which is it, do you want to kill the guy or help him out?!  You’d think if he wanted Bond dead he wouldn’t bother showing him proudly around his villainous base.  You’d think if he wanted Bond dead, he wouldn’t give a damn what Bond thought about anything.  Yet he seems to spend the rest of the movie caring a LOT (enough to set up some weird-ass psycho-trap at the end…)

I guess we need our villains to miss opportunities to do the most obvious things, otherwise clearly, invulnerable or not, our heroes wouldn’t stand a chance.  If that makes any sense.  Which it probably doesn’t, because:

4. Many things do not make sense

I get that Bond is a suave serial womaniser irresistible sex magnet, and so one is obviously led to wonder how the scriptwriters thought they would take it to the next level.  How about…. we see if Bond can seduce the grieving widow of a man he recently killed.  Yup, that’ll work!

Smartblood, there’s a great idea… when you could just get someone to follow Bond around, reporting back every hour (say).  But how, I hear you asking (I have very good ears), would Q have found out where Bond was, in Austria, without the smartblood?  Hmm.. I don’t know… maybe Q could find out about and use the phone he gave to Moneypenny.  And let’s not even get into the fact that it seems Bond is so untrustworthy that they have to track him using technology in his blood.  Also, bold italics.

Don’t even get me started about Bond stealing that car from Q’s lab.  Even supposing that it is remotely feasible to, why would you risk your job stealing a super expensive car just to get to Rome when you’re already on very thin ice with your boss?

Alright, that stuff’s a bit trifling and easily overlooked, particularly if you buy into the whole Bond mythology (which, in case it hadn’t clicked, also involves Bond being able to pilot every type of airplane and helicopter ever built).  But.. but.. the guy in Austria, Mr White, tells Bond about his daughter when he could have just told him about the desert base and/or the hotel place because he knew all about it.  The best way to protect his daughter would be not to tell anyone about her whereabouts, particularly when he didn’t even have to!

OK, onto the train scene in good ole’ Morrocco.  This raises a host of perplexing questions.  Why does the Spectre guy wait so long to attack James on the train?  Why is the train so empty?  Wait, why do they even want to have a black tie dinner on the train in the first place, making themselves more obviously conspicuous?  Did they finish their dinner before they had sex?  How hungry were they anyway?

Then there’s the base in the desert, miles from anywhere? Huh?  Wouldn’t that be a logistical nightmare?  Like, where do the staff live?  What do they do for recreation?  What about all the dust and sand that gets into all the components?  Where do they go for spare parts?  Where does the water and electricity come from?

After they blow it up (which, I dunno, there was a lot of action happening at the time, but the all-out destruction seemed to be achieved just by shooting out a glass dial…), Bond and Swann don’t make sure no-one gets away from the desert hideout, despite the fact that no-one was chasing them and they had a great vantage point.  I guess they were in a hurry to have sex again get to London, but jeez, talk about half-assed.

Folks, I’m starting to think that the script was a big compromise probably designed by committee or argument or both, with absolute regard for style and “coolness” but very little regard for actual plausibility.  Which might even have been OK if not for the fact that:

5. Half of the themes are re-hashes from the previous movie

Spectre takes pains to elucidate the theme of Bond and the 00 program “being dinosaurs” in a brand new world of digital espionage techniques.  This is like, totally a re-hashing of Skyfall’s theme of questioning the relevance of “loose-cannon”-style field agents in the modern world.  It’s as if the movie producers were so concerned at the potential problem of audiences questioning the need for an old-school fellow like Bond in the modern world that they had to meet that criticism head-on and make it a front-and-center theme across two movies, whilst ignoring half the things that make Bond anachronistic in the first place (sexism, machoism, I’m looking at you).

And yeah, didn’t Bond blow up a villain lair in Quantum of Solace… and no-one cared then, either?  Aaaand… the bad guy escaped from the explosion then too…. owww my head.

6. The baddies actually win

Hang on, what?  Bond is invulnerable and Blofeld is left exposed and crawling like a worm at the end.  Clearly Bond wins.  Heck, he’s even given the choice of more cold-blooded assassin work or live happily ever after with uptight psychology chick.

But ask yourself this: what would be the one thing Blofeld would actually want?  (Erm, apart from complete world domination).  To not have Bond snooping around and sabotaging all his epic criminal organisation, that’s what.  And that’s exactly what happens in the end.  Maybe he did get inside Bond’s head after all.  And, more italics.

7. There’s no big payoff

I could forgive all of the above and more if the movie built up to a big climactic act (or, even better, one of those “double climax” type things you see in the best action movies).  I’d be leaving the movie theatre going “wow, didn’t that build up to something spectacular and who cares about all the inconsistencies!” instead of “wow, that was filled with inconsistencies!”

But the pacing in Spectre feels all a bit weird and wrong.  I guess we’re supposed to be on the edge of our seats the whole time (actually I kinda was for good chunks of it, so there).  The main problem is the last third of the movie just seems to be a stringing together of many mini-climax moments and then it just… ends.

Let’s break down in detail how Bond defeats the bad guy, post-”blowing up the desert lair”.  He goes back to London, then blithely falls into all of Blofeld’s traps and assumes his Batman role (“Where is she?  Where is she?“) before the building blows up.  Fine, he gets through that, good on you Bond, surviving that to… shoot a helicopter?  Why is the helicopter following the river?  The helicopter knows someone is shooting at them, but doesn’t take any evasive action, or fly higher, or indeed anything that might make it harder for a boat following to shoot it.  My preferred ending would have Bond and Blofeld duking it out in mech suits in a lava pit.  Just sayin’.