Spoiler Alert: There Are Important Spoilers Herein
The biggest weakness of this film is the plot. The plot is needlessly complex and the writers seemed to get lost in it. What’s more, important chunks of the complexity are nonsense.
Bond is ordered to stay in London, but he’s running his own mission this time. It turns out that he has been given instructions by Judi-Dench M in a deathbed video to kill a man, attend his funeral and then figure it out from there. So Bond escapes to Italy and attends the funeral. This is where the writing problems begin to appear. Watch for a trend: Bond somehow finds out where the private funeral will be held. Despite the funeral being a who’s who of villains, Bond somehow gets into the funeral and meets the widow. Bond somehow knows they plan to kill her. He somehow figures out when she will return home and arrives just in time to kill the killers who have come to get her. She somehow knows where her dead husband’s associates will meet to discuss how to replace him. Bond goes there and somehow gets through the door and attends a massive SPECTRE meeting. He then gets exposed and he somehow escapes because only one guy bothers to chase him.
From here, Bond will meet a man who is a hermit but who somehow knows everything about SPECTRE but only gives Bond a one word clue, which Bond will somehow use to find a secret daughter, whom he must rescue. She will use that clue to lead him to a hotel in Africa where Bond somehow finds a hidden room which tells him how to end the movie at a volcano lair (Bond still needs to resolve a brutally obvious subplot which is so packed with somehow’s that it makes you wonder if they did more than give this a cursory thought before including it in the film).
Equally problematic, the main villain, Blofeld, is a bore, and the plot involving Blofeld proves to be a dead-end to the plot. It’s almost like the writer figured that just introducing the character was enough for the film and didn’t think of what else to do. At the same time, the subplot has a much better villain. He’s more developed and better acted. When he’s on screen, the film just feels tense (when Blofeld is on the screen, the film feels stopped). Unfortunately, the writers all but ignore the subplot and what it could add to this film. And then when they do focus on it, what they do is horribly obvious and rushed. The subplot is where this film really should have gone.
Daniel Craig returns as Bond and there is a lot of talk that this may be his last Bond film. While I’ve felt that he’s been an amazing Bond, I am honestly ready for him to leave. This movie, even more than the last, kept projecting the idea that Bond hated his job and wanted to quit... something Craig has paralleled about the role in interviews. So while Craig was again smooth, suave and cold-blooded, and he therefore fit the role perfectly, he also came across as tired and perhaps a little indifferent to the film throughout.
This film had multiple villains. On the one hand, you had the main villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Christopher Waltz. With him, you had Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx, a kind of cross between Donald Grant in From Russia With Love and Oddjob in Goldfinger. And then there’s C.
Hinx is an assassin who fights Bond a couple times. The only “character” moment comes when he applies for the job of assassin at the SPECTRE meeting. Otherwise, he’s just walking muscle.
First of all, the idea that one person could cause all the unrelated events in the prior films, each of which involved unique motivations and plenty of luck, is ludicrous... so Blofeld somehow got M to piss off Silva before Bond was even an agent just so Silva would one day go after Bond? Yeah, right. Secondly, the idea that the world is essentially divided between one superspy and his sort-of supervillain brother is comic book thinking, and it takes it too far away from reality. Third, how can someone so obsessed form an organization like SPECTRE? It’s nonsense.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
I don’t want to make it sound like I hated this film. I didn’t. I thought it was a decent movie and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot more than most of the Bond films after the Connery years. It was beautiful and had the travelogue film these films need. The pacing was excellent and the story offered enough to hold your interest. The ‘cool’ moments were indeed cool. The humor was funny. The action was tense. Craig did his usual great job with the role. The Bond girls were pretty, especially Monica Bellucci. Andrew Scott was creepy and believable. It was excellent escapism and could be the best “mindless action film” in the series.