Column: 'Spectre' falls short of dark, dramatic brilliance of 'Skyfall'

When you watch a “James Bond” film, you expect action, charm, charisma and entertainment. “Spectre” barely meets all these qualities and occasionally delivers, but it’s a disappointing turn from the dark and dramatic brilliance of “Skyfall,” the previous film of the Daniel Craig-led series.

“Skyfall” was packed with story. You had a believable storyline with several twists, strong dialogue between all the characters and a great build-up to the movie’s final shootout.

Meanwhile, “Spectre” had about as linear of a story as a movie can get, with a forgettable subplot regarding the new M (Ralph Fiennes) and his adversary C. Plus, I know that “Skyfall” had its fair share of detractors for not focusing enough on Bond’s womanizing, but was it really necessary to reintroduce that in “Spectre?”

I thought we left that kind of campiness in the 90s. Don’t even get me started on a particular scene in the film, where Bond randomly seduces a woman whose husband he killed earlier. While hilarious, it’s also pretty messed up. 

Other than that, Craig is excellent as the brutally efficient and focused titular character. Yet he simultaneously adds a dimension of humanity, as seen through through his frequent displays of emotion, especially when danger faced his love interest in the film, played by French actress Lea Seydoux. Both have great chemistry on film, with lusty tension between their two characters and a level of amusing back and forth between them. Everyone else, however, is forgettable.

This includes Christoph Waltz, who garnered critical acclaim for his roles in “Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained.” He was rarely seen in the movie and wasn’t even particularly memorable when on screen – instead being just another typical “hard-to-kill” villain and one with a pretty stupid reason for wanting Bond dead. His reveal as the “ultimate bad guy” also came off as cheesy, rather than genuinely terrifying. This came as a huge disappointment after Javier Bardem in “Skyfall” played perhaps the greatest “Bond” villain ever.

To be fair, I haven’t read the novels, so I can’t say too much for the film’s accuracy in reference to the original work. Perhaps those who are more familiar with the series can correct me on anything I don’t understand.

Yet, as a “Bond” film fan, I can’t help but feel that “Spectre” was a quietly disappointing end for the Craig series of “Bond” films. With an formulaic plot, acting that heavily relied on two of its leads and, outside of the film’s spectacular introductory sequence, pretty standard action scenes, the movie wasn’t bad, but it was too safe.

It’s a quiet, disappointing end for the most recent iteration of maybe the world’s biggest and loudest film franchise.