The long and the short of it is: Don't watch this movie. Go see Casino Royale again if you want to see a good Daniel Craig Bond movie. Or watch Goldeneye or Goldfinger (but not Goldmember) or even Captain America: Winter Soldier. They're all better written and better performed. But just in case you want to read a brief bullet point list, look below and brace for spoilers.
- Some great visuals. The Day of the Dead pre-credit sequence is spooky and some of the locations are shot with love. The writing may not be there but the Cinematographer, Hoyte Van Hoytema, sure as heck showed up to play.
- There are good action sequences. Not all of them, but some of the fights and chases are well done. The car chase through oddly empty Rome looked good. The fight in the train was entertaining too.
- David Bautista works. The guy got one line of dialog and it made me laugh. He works as a heavy and he has good comic timing.
- Christoph Waltz is doing the thing he does in every movie. The guy really loves the sound of his own voice. Or we do. Either way, if you like him, you'll like his dialog.
- Ralph Finnes. Ralph also had a good movie, he comes dangerously close to being the Bond we'd rather see and if the script had gone a different way, he might have stolen the show
Things that didn't work in Spectre (Limiting myself to 10):
- The script. FOUR screenwriters. Never a good sign. This was poorly plotted and cartoonish, especially in the closing act.
- The women and Bond. Lea Sydoux had zero chemistry with Daniel Craig and her love scene and the love scene with Monica Bellucci were neither sexy nor romantic. And casting Monica Bellucci and not using her? Dumb and careless.
- The women in general. The women don't work as objects of desire (Sam Mendez or the writers chose not to make it too sexy) and they don't work as competent partners. Moneypenny, Swann, Lucia, none add anything to the plot and none are as well written or as well acted as Vesper Lynd.
- Daniel Craig. The guy didn't want to be here and it shows. He worked as a new kind of Bond, a former SAS throatslitter who was moving up to the big leagues. But he never the gains charm, charisma, wit or intellect Bond has had in the past.
- Bond doesn't do spy stuff. He doesn't investigate anything, discover anything, chase leads. He has his support staff Google stuff and goes from person to person BEGGING them to tell him stuff. Not forcing them, not uncovering information, basically he begs. No disguises, no cleverness, no thinking on his feet.
- Spectre reveal is wasted. The reveal of Spectre being behind everything should have been the pendultimate reveal. Instead, Bond almost literally wanders in off the street and overhears criminal stuff. And that happens way too early in the plot. It's not earned, it's not built up, it makes no impression.
- Bond turns into a cartoon. You know when Legolas in The Hobbit basically became a video game character? That pretty much happens here. In a huge departure from past movies that showed us a hurt, decayed Bond who used his body too hard, here he has some kind of auto-aim cheat code running that climaxes in him shooting down a helicopter with a .380 PPK from hundreds of yards away. Stupid and insulting and removes any tension or thrill watching a skilled man operate.
- Nothing is explained. There is no set up, no explanations for anything, no backstory or flashbacks. The ring featured in the advertising? Bond just grabs it at random in the middle of a fight. Who is Bond trying to kill and why? Vaguely explained an hour after the movie's start. Who is Bond supposed to meet at the dead man's funeral? No idea. He just shows up, begs or shoots someone...usually begs and off he goes to the next location. The worst part is, this could have been fixed with literally mere seconds of screen time showing us or telling us what is at stake or what Bond is expected to do.
- Bond isn't about anything anymore. Craig's Bond and Fiennes' M are adrift. They don't know why they're spying. They are unable to articulate why they spy or kill. They've lost their moral clarity, something that was present up to and through the Brosnan era. It's not about sex anymore. It's not about action, even. The movie serves no purpose except to fool people into buying tickets. Even the image above is a lie. Bond barely wears the 'tactical turtleneck' and he certainly doesn't go commando against Spectre. At this point, the cartoon Archer is more like Bond that Bond is.
- The ending. The absolute worst part of the movie is saved for last as the assassin decides not the kill the most dangerous man alive. In fact, he decides to quit and drives off into the sunset with his...love of his life? This is wrong on so many levels. It's foolish. It lacks payoff. It's unrealistic. Comparing this movie to On Her Majesty's Secret Service is like comparing a McDouble to a Prime New York steak.
I said I'd stop at 10, so I will. But...oh my friends...I could go on. And on. And on about the flaws in this film.