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Spectre: How far up their own asses have the Bond people lodged their heads? Cannoli Send a noteboard - 11/11/2015 04:27:39 AM

This is a rant, not a review. Spoilers.

You know what this franchise is now? It's a shitty Mission Impossible, with less attractive chicks, less impressive tech and stunts, and vastly more incompetent agents. It's villains are far more stupid, and it's less light-hearted or fun. I kept thinking of the Mission Impossible franchise, until near the end when it occurred to me that they were basically doing a Mission Impossible plot, where there is evil infiltrating the leadership and the agency is all compromised, so the team is On Their Own. And MI6 still makes the IMF (heh, F is the 6th letter, MI6, IM6...Was that an homage, originally? ), look capable, in spite of the latter being infiltrated or subverted in all five movies so far. IMF has better staff, more manpower for their isolated teams, and even beat them to the theaters with their plot about a secret nefarious network that no one believes exists. Hell, I think there have been at least three major releases in 2015 with that same plot point. Not counting Avengers 2, which opens with the team wrapping up the version of that villain. So way to be behind the times, Bond guys.

Also, James Bond is just absolutely inept. I'm not talking about all those mouth-breathing nerds like on Cracked.com who write articles about how Bond is a horrible spy, based on semantic distinctions between what a spy actual does and what goes on in a Bond film. Just write off spy as a misnomer, because "Spectre" never calls him a spy. When they use a job description it's more like "assassin" so on that scale he does do his job. I have only seen Brosnan and Craig in the role, but I am under the impression that Bond is usually sent out to stop a bad guy, not to suborn a foreign national or find out what a rival state is up to. What I am talking about is the tactics he brings to bear. At least three times in this movie, he stands still to stare at someone when running is REALLY what the situation calls for. Twice when he should start chasing the target and once when they should be getting away. In the opening scene, Bond strolls along to edge of a rooftop to get to a position where he knows the villain is going to be. He stops and points his gun at the window of the building through which the target is visible, with only the width of a Mexican street separating his position from that window. He crouches there, pointing his gun, which seems to double as a directional microphone, to eavesdrop on his target discussing his plans, before deciding to shoot. Then he has to pause, because the target sits down and disappears partly behind some curtains.

Jim, you're pushing 50. If at this point, you can see a pair of legs sitting in a chair, and NOT be able to figure out where those legs' owner's vital organs are in relation to said legs, you really need a new line of work. Just when he is ready to shoot, one of the bad guys finally happens to glance in Bond's direction and sees him. Bond immediately shifts his aim away from his target to shoot the guys who are now pointing guns at him. So his own safety is his first priority, not the mission of eliminating the villain. Way to go, hero.

Then, after almost failing to catch a white haired man in a footrace, he is back at HQ being lambasted for causing an international incident. But no one knows it was him, which suggests that the screenwriter doesn't know what "international incident" means. Does Mexico assume that an explosion and a helicopter brawl means illegal British espionage is taking place, so they start demanding an apology from the UK? It doesn't matter, because Bond is forbidden from following up on anything, since the new boss wouldn't like it.

Later on, Bond & the main Bond girl are taking a train somewhere and for no reason, meet in the dining car to sit in a regular booth, wearing a tuxedo and a ball gown. The special occasion is never mentioned. They just do this for no reason, probably because they realized there was no other scene in the movie where it would make sense for Bond to wear his trademark tuxedo.

That train trip, BTW, takes them to an abandoned station, where they park their asses until a car comes to pick them up and take them to the bad guy headquarters to meet the villain, who proceeds to lock them up and torture Bond, and gloat about his evil. But why then, did his henchman try to kill them on the train trip there? Why did they have to overcome opposition if they were following along with the plan of the enemy?

The villain claims he has been behind ALL the bad guys from the Daniel Craig Bond films, and claims to be responsible for the death of Eva Green who was the great love of Bond's life, and the former M. Look, I saw Skyfall a couple years ago. M did not die as the result of a masterfully planned assassination, she got whacked because she's a horrible shot, and Bond grabbed her and randomly drove them both off to the ass end of nowhere without any weapons or resources, where they waited for the bad guys to come after them, carrying lots of guns. Q analyzes a ring that Bond took off the bad guy he failed to shoot in the aforementioned opening scene (if Bond's original plan was to gun him down in a room from across the street, how did he plan to take his ring? ) and appears to claim to find DNA from the last three Bond villains. Even if the arch villain in THIS film really did deploy those guys, why would his henchman have a ring with all their DNA?

And back to my original point about the producers being out of touch, and behind the curve, I have never seen any of the pre-Brosnan Bond films, but because I am marginally familiar with pop culture, I know who Blofeld is. What's more, I saw the Austin Powers movies. When Bond finally confronts the arch villain, who supposedly died years ago, the villain reveals he is now a different guy, he is Ernst Stavros Blofeld, or whatever it is. Moments before he says this, a long-haired white cat jumps up on Bond's lap. Then there is an explosion, and Blofeld ends up with a scar over his eye.

Earlier, in the scene where future-Blofeld makes a first appearance, Bond has infiltrated the highest level meeting of the villainous organization (he drove up to the address, showed a stolen ring at the door, and walked right into the conference room), and we are treated to the sight of a scrawny German woman making a report. I was just dumbfounded, because she could have been a cousin of Frau Farbissina from the Austin Powers movies.

That first movie is infamous for Dr. Evil, the Blofeld parody character, devising an elaborate death trap for the British spy & his love interest, only to have his teenaged son ask "You're not even going to watch them die?" to which Dr. Evil replies "No, I'm going to leave them alone, not actually witness them dying and assume it all went to plan. What?".

At the end of "Specter" Blofeld ties up the Bond girl on the railroad tracks and hides her in the MI6 HQ that was blown up in "Skyfall" to which he brings Bond. Bond is brought to this abandoned building where Blofeld has arranged to be placed bulletproof glass behind which he can taunt Bond, demonstrating a bomb he has planted, saying Bond had to choose whether to escape the building before the bomb goes off or try to find the girl in the small amount of time he has left. Then Blofeld flees chortling over his triumph, and is later seen basking smugly in his getaway helicopter. In other words, HE DOES WHAT DR. EVIL DID!!. He just leaves, on the assumption that the hero couple will not get away and will die just as he planned! Except Dr. Evil had Austin Powers trapped inside his custom-built lair. He did not leave his enemy free and mobile inside a building where said enemy had worked for years as one of its most trusted employees! In other words, Bond would know where best to look, and be likely to know of any escape routes Blofeld might not have discovered in the short time he had to set up this secondary plan, what with Bond evading his first capture-torment-kill attempt.

It's one thing for a franchise to acknowledge a parody by trying to meet or evade the criticisms leveled in it. "Specter" seems to be trying to be even MORE stupid than the franchise's parody. You can't NOT see this stuff. Austin Powers eventually turned out to be long lost brothers with Dr. Evil, and Blofeld keeps insisting on calling Bond his brother. It turns out that in that past no one in the audience knew, after Bond's parents died, Blofeld's father took care of Bond for two years, so Blofeld and Bond have this deep abiding connection that has turned sour for some reason. At one point Blofeld insists he's after revenge for Bond foiling his operations, and at another, he seems to be claiming to be motivated by jealousy over that brief moment when his father cared for Bond.

Nothing about this movie makes sense. Blofeld has his henchmen drag Bond to the death-trap with a bag over his head. Bond breaks free when they are starting to drag him into the building... and walks in on his own, only to see a graffiti sign taunting him over his imminent death. Why was the sign there for him to read if the plan was to drag him in with a bag on his head?

Bond reveals to Moneypenny that he went to kill the very first guy which enraged their bosses, because the former M had left him a video message saying "In case I die, kill this man. And then go to his funeral." Bond does all that, and at the funeral, sees nothing, except that the target left behind an attractive widow. So he hits on her, she leaves, he follows her home, and saves her from the assassins she was expecting, who were coming to kill her to keep her from telling anyone about her despised late husband's organization. So they boink and she gives him the address where the top echelon of the villains are meeting on this very night. Was that M's plan? "I can't just TELL James Bond about this evil organization headed by his one-time foster brother who has been presumed dead for some time. I know, I'll send him to kill a member of the group. I'll pick the one with the hot wife and send James to the funeral so he can seduce her into telling him the information." And what was the plan if the wife had not been in lust with Bond, or the bad guys had staged a fatal car accident for her on the way to the funeral?

Also, Blofeld seems to have anticipated Bond would be at that meeting that night, in spite of the assassins he sent after the one person who was inclined to tell Bond how to get there. How was he going to try to lure Bond into his web if his own killers had succeeded in cutting the chain Bond follows back to the trap?

The girlfriend-kidnapping plot is only made possible, because the good guys are setting out to foil Blofeld's plan, walking out of their safehouse onto the street late at night, and the girlfriend randomly and spontaneously stops walking, announces she's bailing on the plan because she doesn't want to date an agent, and turns to walk off all alone. I imagine some bad guys tailing them, wondering how they are going to separate her in order to drag her off to the hiding place, and then she walks right into their arms, and their biggest challenge is overcoming their surprise at being able to knock off work early and go home for a beer and a soccer game. I'm assuming that's what they did, because for the rest of the movie, you only see like two other henchmen, who were occupied with what you see them doing at the time the girlfriend had to have been kidnapped.

Everyone keeps calling this the gritty, realistic James Bond. Except he shoots down a helicopter with a 9mm handgun, dresses for a royal audience to eat dinner on a crappy train, and uses a car that is a multi-million pound prototype but would probably loose a fight to standard military Hummer. The characters use smart phones, but their label maker is that kind from 20 years ago that stamps white letters on a colored plastic strip, because that's how Q labels the function switches in the car. One such function being a short-range rear flamethrower, so if a car comes very close to your rear, you can set it on fire. That way, rather than being rear-ended by a plain old boring car, you can be rear-ended by a car whose front end is ON FIRE! So the hell with realistic.

And the gritty is just stupid. The way it seems to work is, James Bond sucks at doing anything properly, and needs to end up in hand-to-hand combat all the time. John McClain is gritty, because no one expected him to be there, not even him. He was caught by surprise and muddles through, being a regular guy who simply won't give up, no matter how much broken glass he has to drag himself across. That's gritty, not a trained killer with the support of an entire national agency and cutting edge technology, misusing all his weapons and being forced to parkour and then fist fight.

Bond is supposed to be cool, but I was under the impression that cool meant competent, and making it look easy, or else you overcame long odds, a la McClane. Being the agent of a powerful country up against guys in hiding is too easy, and to be cool, you need to be really capable and level-headed. If James Bond were dropped into "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to face down the swordsman in the marketplace like Indiana Jones did, well, dark-haired James Bond would probably do what Indy did - shoot the swordsman, except he would look all smug and superior and confident beforehand, and the bullet would come from some item that does not normally discharge bullets, and Bond would make an arch quip with a pun about the sword or the item he used to kill the swordsman. And then he'd walk away like he had just tipped a bellboy. Daniel Craig in that situation would unload his PPK or assault rifle at the swordsman, miss several shots until either he ran out of bullets, or the swordsman chopped his gun out of his hand. Then they'd lurch about the marketplace grappling for the sword, smashing up dozens of stalls and crushing baskets and shattering pottery and scattering chickens and maybe burning down a rug vendor, until Bond strangled the swordsman or broke his neck or crushed him under a camel. And then he'd lurch off to meet a not-quite symmetrically-featured woman with squinty eyes and a foreign accent who wasn't impressed by him and then did a 180 and slept with him for no explicable reason.

Because that initial disdain is what passes for character depth in a Bond film. You know they're not coming back in another film, why bother wasting our time with false start attempts at personalities? Denise Richards might have been badly cast as a nuclear scientist, but you could understand her dialogue, which was no more pointless or stupid than anything Lea Sedouyex or Olga Kurilenko had to say. And don't get me started on Eva Green. The woman looks like she should be disinfected before you touch her. There's a reason she places a witch in like 3/4 of her movies.

From what I remember of the Pierce Brosnan movies, they seemed to know they were stupid and were playing along with it, and just trying to one-up themselves. "Hey, we've run out of weapons that can pop out of a fender, how about this time we make the car INVISIBLE?". The current Bond films seem to think they're being smarter or making statements or commenting on the state of the world. Skyfall's debate on security issues belonged in 1995, not 2012, with their talk about the relevance of a security apparatus in a post-Cold War world, as if they'd overlooked 9-11 somehow. The plot in this one was even less topical and less coherent, seeming to waffle between Blofeld trying to make his lackey in charge of security for all the countries and shut down the Double Oh program, and Blofeld trying to torment Bond through a series of Byzantine schemes over the last three movies, or else strap him to a chair & stick drills in his skull. And when that fails, go with the girlfriend kidnapping plot mentioned above. Randomly dropping new details about Bond's youth and then connecting them to the latest villain does not give either Bond or the villain depth or character nor does it add stakes to the plot. It all just looks like a movie pulling things out of its ass, while being completely ignorant of the current culture.

Idris Elba should absolutely not be the next James Bond. He has much better things he could be doing with his time and ability. Even if its just more scenes that should have been cut from Avengers movies, it would still be better than sinking to this mess.

Cannoli
“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” GK Chesteron
Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye!
Deus Vult!
*MySmiley*
This message last edited by Cannoli on 11/11/2015 at 12:18:37 PM
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Spectre: How far up their own asses have the Bond people lodged their heads? - 11/11/2015 04:27:39 AM 1289 Views
You're not wrong. Well, once maybe. - 11/11/2015 11:08:13 AM 612 Views
Very true. Noticed the similarities to Rogue Nation as I was watching - 11/11/2015 03:30:31 PM 498 Views
That's a shame - 11/11/2015 05:54:23 PM 527 Views
The biggest problem with the Craig films is the lack of humour. - 17/11/2015 07:40:11 PM 569 Views
Exactly! - 17/11/2015 11:08:20 PM 531 Views
THe early Cean Connery ones were not that cheesy - 20/11/2015 07:12:45 PM 562 Views
I don't know, I'm inclined to say they're the best ones since Timothy Dalton. - 21/11/2015 02:49:04 AM 476 Views
And Spectre ran with that - 21/11/2015 11:02:24 PM 529 Views
He's one of the worst Bonds, maybe the worst - 28/11/2015 10:36:01 AM 471 Views
One of the worst yes, but the worst of all was Lazenby. *NM* - 09/12/2015 06:35:26 PM 298 Views
i generally agree with your analysis - 09/12/2015 06:46:51 AM 499 Views
Somewhat to my surprise, I find myself agreeing with you on most points. - 09/12/2015 10:55:46 PM 424 Views
Including the subliminal "Vote Trump" message? *NM* - 09/12/2015 11:24:16 PM 335 Views
Er, what? I must've missed that part. - 10/12/2015 11:37:17 PM 413 Views

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