Over the last few days, since my review of Spectre went online, my thoughts on the film have started to change quite a lot. I’ve gone from thinking the film was pretty good to thinking that it may be a bad film. I’ve seen it a second time and as I’ve thought about it more my opinion of it has gotten lower and lower. The problem is that the main reason why my thoughts keep going down is due to a major spoiler in the film so I decided to wait until it was out in America to give my full thoughts. Everything I say from this point on is filled with spoilers for Spectre. If you haven’t seen the film and plan to do not read on from here, wait until you’ve seen the fil t then come back. With all that out of the way, here are my brief, revised thoughts on Spectre.
So the main reason why I think Spectre doesn’t work and why my opinion of it keeps going down can all be summed up with one word: Blofeld. Yes, Christoph Waltz is actually the new version of Blofeld in this series, with it being incredibly obvious from the moment his casting was announced, and this decision doesn’t work in the context of this film and for the other Daniel Craig Bond films. Firstly, it feels like the decision to add Blofeld into the film was thrown in at the last minute with no planning done as to how it would affect the other Bond films, in particular through the role of Spectre as an organisation. Since the creative team didn’t have the rights to use Spectre or Blofeld for the other films they created the new organisation Quantum, setting that up to be the Spectre of this series. Now that the actual Spectre is in here, the role of Quantum is reduced, making the whole plot of Quantum of Solace seem pointless. It feels here that they wrote Blofeld and Spectre into the script first and then decided to have everything connect to the other Bond films. It’s kind of like for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having The Avengers being written first then trying to connect all of other MCU films into it rather than working on the script so it naturally connects to the other events in the films. Everything regarding Blofeld being behind everything feels lazy. They don’t try to do anything clever with it, come up with natural reasons for Blofeld to be pulling the strings, instead they just do a ‘it was me all along’ speech which is one of the laziest pieces of writing in the film.
This leads into the main problem as to why Blofeld doesn’t work in this film, that being that in trying to connect the other Bond films together they retroactively weaken the plots of the other ones. Firstly, trying to retroactively make Blofeld the architect of everything doesn’t make sense since the other films didn’t even hint at Blofeld because they weren’t allowed to. This goes back to the issue regarding Quantum and especially Mr White. In the context of these Bond films, it made more sense for Mr White to be the person behind everything since we see him pulling the strings in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace but here he’s revealed to just be a pawn of Spectre. This also brings up a question I have regarding Mr White’s role in the film: why did Spectre want him dead? The film posits that it’s because he wants to take down Blofeld but nothing about the character from the other films indicated that he was like this. This brings up a plot hole I saw in the film regarding Mr Hinx being sent to kill Mr White. It’s shown that Spectre has already found Mr White and has already poisoned him so there would be no need for anyone else to be sent after him as he was going to die anyway. This feels like a massive plot contrivance to find a way to get Bond more involved in the plot regardless of how it fits in the story. Furthermore, there is genuinely no reason for Madeline Swann to be in the film on a plot level. The film tries to make it look like she was the only person that could have led Bond to Blofeld but we see Q find Blofeld’s compound relatively easily and it could just as easily have been done without Swann. It’s not like in Skyfall where Silva’s base is hidden inside a building on an island that has been abandoned for years meaning that there would be no reason for anyone to look. Here, Blofeld’s compound is a massive structure in a crater in the desert. It can be argued that the spy agencies wouldn’t know to look there but it is clear that the facility would have been found a lot earlier than it was due to satellite photography.
Madeline Swann also brings up an interesting idea that is brought up once and never mentioned again. After the chase in the Alps, Swann confronts Bond saying that Mr Hinx only knew to go to the clinic where she worked because Bond led him there and she’s completely right. If Bond hadn’t gone to see Mr White then the conversation regarding Madeline would never have happened and Hinx probably wouldn’t have found out where she worked. This is never mentioned again and in the next scene they’re being set up as love interests. Furthermore, the circumstances leading to Hinx finding Swann could have been avoided by Bond. The film shows Bond seeing the cameras Mr White had set up around his house. In any other film Bond would have unplugged or destroyed the cameras and the hard drive to prevent exactly that situation from developing.
The connections to Casino Royale and Skyfall also harm the characters in all of the films. Firstly, connecting Silva to Spectre removes a lot of the power and importance of his entire character in Skyfall. In Skyfall, it was made clear that Silva’s entire goal was to get M. Having him be in the employ of Spectre removes a lot of the mystery surrounding the character. The constant references to Vesper Lynd meanwhile serve to damage the character development done to Bond in Casino Royale. In Spectre he does a few mournful looks regarding Vesper but it doesn’t really affect him that much here, especially him starting a relationship with Swann at the end of the film, which feels like a step back for the character.
The film also does a pretty bad job regarding the character of Max Denbigh. It’s obvious from the moment he turns up that he’s one of the villains actually working for Spectre and whilst the whole idea of a mass surveillance operation ostensibly for security but is actually the front for a villainous organisation using it to cement their power is a great idea, it was done a million times better in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Finally, we get to the relationship between Bond and Blofeld and this is the main aspect as to why my opinion of Spectre is going downhill. It states that the reason that Franz Oberhauser became Blofeld is because, after Bond’s parents died, Oberhauser’s dad took Bond in and Oberhauser began to feel like his dad preferred Bond so Oberhauser killed his dad and took the name Blofeld after his mum’s side of the family and decided to torment Bond because of the resentment. This doesn’t work at all in the film. Having Blofeld be motivated by daddy issues doesn’t make the character more complex, it makes him more childish. The whole character, instead of coming across like a serious, intimidating presence, instead comes off as a baby throwing his toys out the pram because he didn’t get his way. As good as Waltz is, he cannot make this character work because of how lazy the writing is. Plus, there doesn’t need to be a personal connection between Bond and Blofeld. Blofeld’s role as the head of Spectre should already make him the nemesis of Bond, throwing in the daddy issues doesn’t work, especially for Bond as there is no response to the resentment that Blofeld had, Bond didn’t care about everything so why should the audience. Here it feels like they wanted the lightning of Silva to strike twice but missed the point of why Silva’s connection to M worked. There, Silva’s connection established him as a dark parallel to Bond, showing the damage that someone like Bond could do if he didn’t have the safety net of MI6, plus everything regarding Silva had deep repercussions for the characters of Bond and M in Skyfall. But here, the connection between Bond and Blofeld feels pointless. There are no repercussions for Bond regarding the connection between him and Blofeld. As soon as the scene where Blofeld tortures Bond is over (that scene also has a big problem through the film immediately removing the danger of Blofeld by showing the torture he is using doesn’t work as he says) the connection between Blofeld and Bond is dropped and never brought up again. You could have literally removed the connection and you would have the exact same film.
Every single decision regarding Blofeld is the wrong decision. Watching Spectre a second time and letting everything sink it proved it to me. There were already problems with Spectre, such as Monica Belluci being completely wasted and the scene with her character being really creepy; the way the female characters are treated as a whole feels really retrograde and the technical side of the film doesn’t have the strong visual flourishes that made Skyfall so good, but Blofeld cements them all together. It’s clear that another draft of the script was needed to fit Blofeld fit into the plot of both this film and the other films more naturally but that was not what we got. Instead we got lazy, predictable writing that serves to damage the development of the characters in the other Bond films and shows that the writers really didn’t understand the whole point of Blofeld and Spectre.
Revised Rating for Spectre: 2/5