For most movies, making $70.4 million in the opening weekend would be a massive success. But when that movie cost over $300 million to make and is the direct sequel to a movie that grossed $90.6 million in its opening weekend, expectations might have been set a little higher.
While nobody expected “Spectre”, the latest of the James Bond films, to be able to duplicate the success of “Skyfall” when it came out in 2012, I don’t think anyone expected the gap between the two to be so large. “Spectre” comes in a full $20 million behind “Skyfall” and only $2.4 million ahead of the widely hated “Quantum of Solace” from 2008.
In terms of quality, “Spectre” is probably closer to “Skyfall” than “Quantum,” but that doesn’t mean “Spectre” doesn’t suffer from the same things that plagued the earlier Bond films. My main complaints with “Quantum of Solace” are that it has a plot that makes no sense, characters that never get fleshed out and action sequences just for the sake of having action sequences. These complaints can also be said for “Spectre.”
Starting with the nonsensical plot, “Spectre” tried to tie all of the other Bond films together by saying all of the movies’ villains are all part of the same evil organization. Now this is not a bad idea except for the fact that the villains from the other Bond movies are so bland that you probably will not remember any of them without having to go back and re-watch the movies that they are in. And even then, the connection “Spectre” tries to force is so loose and unbelievable that audiences are most likely better off not trying to connect the films at all.
While Bond films have always been more about the action and romance and less about character growth and development, I cannot think of a Bond film that left its audience more in the dark about its characters than “Spectre” does. While most were left puzzled at the end of “Casino Royale” when Bond had fallen deeply in love with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) over the course of about five minutes, “Spectre” has romance that somehow makes even less sense. In “Spectre” Bond and Madeleine Swann, played by Léa Seydoux, go from not being able to stand each others’ company to being deeply in love after a train ride, a fight scene and one night together.
Perhaps even more confusing is the inclusion of Dave Bautista’s character, Mr. Hinx. Hinx says one word throughout the entire movie and is only in maybe three scenes. He seems to be there only as a way to give Bond someone to fight. When Bond eventually defeats the mysterious Hinx, it is hard to feel like Bond had accomplished anything because so little was known about the man he beat.
Finally, the action sequences. Let me just say that “Spectre” was a couple explosions away from making me think that the director was actually Michael Bay instead of Sam Mendes. Whether it’s flying a plane into a building or driving a car into a river, everything seems to explode and every action scene feels drawn out and slightly forced in.
Ultimately “Spectre” suffers from some of the same things that made people not like Daniel Craig’s first two Bond movies without not doing enough of what made people love his third one. If “Skyfall” took two steps forward for the James Bond franchise, “Spectre” might just be taking one step back.