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#Spectre movie review: license to thrill temporarily suspended

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 20 November 2015, 11:45 IST

Spectre is the 24th film in the Bond franchise, the fourth starring Daniel Craig and the second directed by Sam Mendes. But it isn't the first to be not much of anything at all.

At a cost of over $300 million, it offers everything diehard fans want: the chases, the exotic locales, the cars, the sex (not for us in India thanks to Pahlaj Nihalani), and so on.

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But it doesn't deliver to those of us who never really liked Bond all that much - but discovered that we could with Casino Royale and Skyfall where Bond seemed occasionally human (despite his endless cat lives).

So here's the thing. Spectre is basically a colossal Quantum Of Solace. It's bigger and more bombastic (and it has a larger sense of its own importance), but it's just another warped version of Solace.

At least it reminded me that Casino Royale wasn't half bad.

Why is it such a disappointment? Well, to put it simply: Spectre feels way, way longer than its 148 minutes. There is not a single unexpected note to be found. Everything feels stale - even the action.

Cliche after cliche, you're checking to see how much of the film is left - only to be disappointed by your watch.

And it carries excess baggage

Spectre forcibly tries to connect previous Craig (Bond) films with flashes of history.

In his article for Rolling Stone, journalist David Ehrlich wrote that Spectre "bends over backwards to contort the Daniel Craig era into a coherent quadrilogy, as though these four films had always been intended to function like a discrete run of comic books that branches out from its core property."

And it fails spectacularly.

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What's the plot

Bond is working outside official channels (as usual), creating international headlines (as usual) just as his new boss at MI6, M (Ralph Fiennes) finds himself in a power struggle with a bureaucrat, C (Andrew Scott), who is merging all of the Uk's security organisations into a singular behemoth, complete with a new National Centre for Security for a literal 'Age of Surveillance'.

C is so weasel-like - and he's played by Sherlock's Moriarty - that it's immediately apparent he is up to no good. You'd think they'd throw in a plot twist knowing the audience would think that, but no. The lack of twist is the twist here.

A still from the film.

Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christof Waltz) serves as the nominal villain bent on revenge because of... a pretty lame reason that I won't spoil. Let's just say the two knew each other in a past life and Franz has serious daddy issues.

Waltz does his cheery creepy thing, complete with the giggles, but still seems too one-dimensional - while being a complete megalomaniac who likes to drill holes into people's heads, of course.

Lack of chemistry

If there's one thing most previous Bond films have gotten right, it's chemistry. But in this one, if Craig and his love interest du jour Dr Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) had even a mote of chemistry, it was a well-kept secret. She spends the first half of the movie wanting nothing to do with him only to suddenly fall in love with him after suffering head trauma.

Sounds about right.

Craig's last film?

Craig has made no secret of the fact that he doesn't give a shit about the Bond franchise anymore. He's gone far enough to say he'd "rather slit his wrists than play James Bond again".

And boy, you can definitely tell. It's like he's sleepwalking through the film, there's just no engagement on his part.

Occasionally, you can't keep count of the creeps

In Casino Royale, Daniel Craig's portrayal of the famous spy felt like a real human being. When Vesper Lynd, his one true love, ends up dead, he's destroyed. You can see the pain. That film established a new type of Bond: one with emotions and feelings that previous Bond incarnations lacked.

But Spectre's Bond is a different person. There are moments where he's a real creep - the first when he forces himself upon a widow (Monica Belluci). Later, he attempts to seduce a woman 20 years his junior pretty soon after she finds out her father killed himself.

We know Bond is a misogynist but did we really need a film where he takes advantage of two vulnerable women after they've just lost loved ones?

Is Daniel Craig the best Bond ever?

It wouldn't be wrong to say he's probably the best all-round of the Bond actors (sorry, Sean Connery). He embodies the character in a way that you can imagine Ian Fleming being proud of.

Should you bother?

Spectre is a 007 film that charts no new ground. Pay to view it at your own risk.

PS: The opening credits are hilarious, with implied tentacle porn. Enjoy.

RATING: 2 out of 5

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First published: 20 November 2015, 11:45 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.