Spectre

5 reasons James Bond movies suck. 5 reasons you watch them anyhow

Robert Pimm
Robert Pimm

Why most James Bond movies suck – but still watch them.  5 reasons the next movie will suck and 5 reasons we’ll watch it anyhow. 

‘What did you think of Quantum of Solace?’

‘Terrible.  What was with that totally inflammable hotel in the desert?’

Skyfall?

‘It made no sense.  Why go to a remote house and wait for limitless Austin Powers-type henchmen to pour out of helicopters?’

‘So you won’t be going to Spectre, then?’

‘Well… I’ll probably check it out.’

James Bond movies suck

We’ve all been there.  You come out of a Bond movie feeling soiled and cheated. But you keep going back for more.

Why are the movies so awful? And why do you keep hoping against hope that the next one will be different?  Because you’re hooked.

“Spectre” really, truly, sucks

Here are five reasons why Spectre is awful.

Bond is boring

(i) It’s a basic rule of story-telling that you have to root for the good guy and want the bad guy pulverized.  But why should we care about Bond in Spectre? He has no sense of humour or good lines. He doesn’t do anything interesting.  Number of times Bond produces brilliant insights or wheezes that resolve a puzzle or save the day? Zero. He just looks glum for two hours.

An insulting plot

(ii) Nothing makes sense.  Why does widow Monica Belluci fall into Bond’s arms instantly, then never reappear? (See also my post Spectre: another reason to miss it? Women – links in bold italics are to other posts on this site) Why does villain Christoph Waltz leave Bond to rescue pointlessly left-behind-to-be-captured love-interest Lea Seydoux in a deserted building about to be destroyed, then give him time to escape? How come Spectre’s Moroccan lair blows up spectacularly as soon as a shot is fired? Why, if Waltz-in-a-helicopter is fleeing Bond-in-a-boat on the Thames, does Waltz fly along the river, instead of turning inland? How, when everything is so senseless, can the film contain any dramatic tension?

A yawn-o-matic villain

(iii) The threat-to-civilisation-as-we-know-it which Bond must combat is not global destruction or even Quantum’s hard-to-dramatise Bolivian water shortage, but intelligence co-operation and surveillance.  Er… don’t we have that already?  How do you dramatise the Internet?  By showing a room full of men sitting at computers. We can all see that every day at work, right?  This may be the dullest menace Bond has ever battled.

A yawn-o-matic “crisis”

(iv) Nothing interesting happens. The threat-to-civilisation-as-we-know-it is overcome by… a bloke with a laptop! Sitting at a desk! He simply hacks in and closes the whole thing down. The scene with the man sitting with the laptop resolving the crisis is possibly the least dramatic scene in cinema history since the scene hours earlier in the same movie featuring a room full of men sitting at computers.

Yawn, yawn, yawn

(v) Incredibly for a “thriller” with a huge budget and spectacular action sequences, Spectre is boring.  People drone on about Bond’s childhood, as if the characters in the moviewere so finely drawn that such subtleties could possibly matter.  Even the action sequences are dull.  Take Bond’s fancy Aston Martin: the one time he drives it, the car chasing it is faster.  Its gimmicks (machine guns, ejector seat) are exactly the same as those on James Bond’s car in Goldfinger(1964) except that this time they have zero effect on the car chasing him.  How is this interesting? The only intriguing technology in Spectre is the yawn-o-matic in every scene.

Why we keep watching James Bond

We’ll all keep going back for more punishment because:

The past is golden

(i) Somewhere in the past, we enjoyed a Bond movie.  Maybe several.  We were young, we’d had a drink, the jokes were funny, the fight scenes made us wince, someone looked good in a swimsuit or a bikini.  Ever since, we’ve kind of been hoping we’d see another Bond like that.

Bond himself is intriguing

(ii) Bond on a good day is, or was, a unique concept. Over the years we’ve come to like this cool, understated, shaken-not-stirred British kind of guy who straightens his cuffs after bruising action sequences and cruises a glamorous world sorting out villains in amusing and spectacular ways.  A new Bond movie holds out the tantalising promise of escapism and mindless pleasure…

Surely it must improve?

(iii) which is why, time after time, we can’t quite believe the movie we’re preparing to see can be as bad as the last one we saw – or, in fact, worse. Surely with all that money they must have thought about the story? Isn’t there someone credited with the screenplay?  (Actually there are four – anyone heard of cooks and broth?)  We have an incurable optimism bias that this time it’s going to be watchable. Then, at the end, we tell each other: ‘Usual Bond nonsense.’ ‘Yep. Don’t know why I come to see them.’

Gorgeous camerawork

(iv) The images are powerful. Like Mission Impossible or the initial Bourne movies there’s a sensuous pleasure in ogling sharp-focus shots of exotic locations, attractive actors, skyscrapers, landscapes and scenes stuffed with lusciously-clad extras. In Spectre I enjoyed: a train rolling through a Moroccan sunset; overhead shots of a building with a round courtyard in London (actually, the Treasury); and Bond driving through a snowy Austrian valley. The grand cinematography gives a bogus sense of spectacle – like the improbably meaningless opening sequence in Ridley Scott’s cataclysmically dull Prometheus.

Marketing

(v) A new Bond movie is backed by a massive advertising budget.  Everyone talks about it!  Famous people (including members of The Royal Family) go to the premiere! It’s on the news, around the globe!

Really.  James Bond movies suck

After watching Spectre I feel like a reformed alcoholic who’s gone back for just one more drink: used, abused, cheated and it’s all my own fault.  My head tells me that next time I’d be much more likely to enjoy something original, like a Japanese Gangsta Rap Movie. My heart says: I bet Bond 25 will be fun and cool.

Plus, the original James Bond character in the novels of Ian Fleming is an interesting creation, as I argue in my blogs James Bond and salad dressing?  Nein danke! and The health benefits of Martinis.  I am currently reading all the original novels in date order.

For: lovely aerial shots of London, Rome and Morocco. Daniel Craig, who I’ve met, is a perfectly nice bloke; as, no doubt, are many others involved in what is…

Against: …by any rational analysis, an extraordinarily poor movie.

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10 Responses

  1. I like your review style, Rob. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.

  2. Excellent. And funny. I’ve posted on Facebook and copied to Cinema Club x Pamela                                              Pamela Major

    From: Robert Pimm To: pamelamajor@btinternet.com Sent: Monday, 9 November 2015, 22:46 Subject: [New post] Spectre: 5 reasons to miss it & 5 reasons you’ll see it 4/10 #yiv7188733959 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7188733959 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7188733959 a.yiv7188733959primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7188733959 a.yiv7188733959primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7188733959 a.yiv7188733959primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7188733959 a.yiv7188733959primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7188733959 WordPress.com | Robert Pimm posted: “‘What did you think of Quantum of Solace?”Terrible.  What was with that totally inflammable hotel in the desert?”Skyfall?”It made no sense.  Why go to a remote house and wait for limitless Austin Powers-type henchmen to pour out of helicopt” | |

  3. One other weakness struck me when watching it. Christopher Waltz made his big breakthrough as an SS Colonel in “Inglourious Basterds”. In this he was diabolically evil because he looked charming and spoke in a civilised manner but his actions were as evil and vindictive as you can get. Presumably he was selected as the head of Spectre on the strength of this role. But in Spectre he not only looked charming and spoke in a civilized way, he also acted courteously. The only evil thing he did (apart from using a laptop) was to tie up James Bond and torture him – and as you say, Robert, everyone does that..

    1. Yeah – a profound weakness. Christopher Waltz is an excellent actor but in Spectre his role (like so many other things) was just a bit dull.

  4. I was born at an odd point in time : at the breaking point where technology broke originality, both trough saturation and time, yet still born from these same ideas and concepts with more abstract, complex and disconnected sources. I could and would develop on these aspects, but let’s cut short and move to the point…. Short point *ha, I did a funny… Aaanyyyways. My mother used to love James Bond and I, being an offshoot of the 90s, was bombarded with a myriad of media : video games, sound tracks, movies playing on repeat on the TV channels, and that was right at the edge of the “age of information”… or the age of Saturated disinformation, as I like to call it. THE 21ST CEEEEEN-TUUU-RYYYYYYYY!!!!…. Man, that Buck Rogers reference does not grow old with so many loony toons cartoon, I love out of time/out of context humor. I keep going on all these tangent, it’s like their trying desperately to get me far away from my point. Oh, yeah, James Bond movies : based off a bunch of books that are bland and predictable because other media/writers did it first and better (still inspired Indiana Jones and Austin Powers), tries to adapt to the times by fitting the hero and the crisis and the incompetent organization to the time’s crisis by pinning two “major/stuggling powers against each other due to some me-andering” but never adapting to the time’s values or context properly, EVERY SINGLE TIME, no joke, I watched every single James Bond Movies, even Moon Taker (which I used to remember fondly) and the Pierce Brosnan ones (my generation, including the kick ass video game Golden Eye 64), AND ALL OF THEM ARE TERRIBLE: POOR PORTRAYAL OF HUMAN GENDERS, CHARACTERS, STORY ARCS, POLITICS, MOTIVATIONS, REASONING ABILITIES AND SO ON. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some adventure or *FANTASY, BUT JESUS POGO HOPING TAP DANCING CHRIST, those are painfull to watch in alot of ways, and not the corny or campy way, yet I ENJOY KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE or THE BLOB!

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