Monday 9 November 2015

The Spectre of lazy acting

I would say that the new James Bond movie is a bit of a guilty pleasure but sadly, it's the type of guilt you feel when you wasted 2 hours of your life. The movie is certainly a slick production with stunning and impressive graphics (aren't they all these days with CGI?). Bond's love interest is also certainly one to watch, not just for her beautiful looks but also for her ability to deliver the silliest lines with a cheekiness that makes you wonder what she thought when doing this movie.

Theatrical Release Poster - Spectre (Eon Productions)

Yet, the rest of the movie falls flat which is mainly Daniel Craig's fault. I would call his acting 'stiff' but that would imply he does act in the first place. The strange thing is that he is probably the most un-British James Bond for a long time. Craig lacks the ironic distance to the role with which Pierce Brosnan treated the franchise so successfully. Craig also does not have much in the way of the English style (ironic, again, as Irishman Brosnan did this so well). Instead Craig replaced 'Englishness' with some sort of indistinct swagger. In one early sequence he wears a costume with a skeleton printed on his back and we see him walking next to a beautiful woman. For a second, I thought Craig was a woman in men's clothing on account of the heavy way he rolls his hips. This contrasts with his intention to pass off the role as hyper-masculine but somehow he gets it all wrong. While Sean Connery and Brosnan had their feminine moments which were used to re-inforce their masculinity, Craig only manages to look strangely neutered, and ultimately tired of acting.

Perhaps this is slightly unfair but one of his previous roles have stuck in my mind. In 'Road to Perdition' he plays the son of a Mafia boss (Paul Newman) who causes havoc by equating business with the ability to kill at the earliest convenience. The hapless character suited Craig well but his acting was equally so wooden that his final scene is shot without us actually seeing him (Tom Hanks shoots him in the bathtub). The logical step would have been to give Craig the scene simply as a brilliant chance to act out the cowardice and viciousness at the heart of the character. Yet, presumably, the director did not have much confidence that Craig could deliver, so in the end, Hanks simply pulls a shower curtain across to conceal Craig as he is finally dispatched.

I was reminded of this scene (and Craig's absence in it) when watching Spectre. The more we see of Craig, the less he looks interested in the role of James Bond. Whilst Lea Seydoux pulls out all stops to put some fire into this soul (and his loins) he appears to have little enthusiasm for a love affair. I have rarely seen a screen kiss with less chemistry between the main protagonists, and I don't think it was Seydoux who held back.

All in all, whilst the James Bond format is still strong, Craig's delivery is as flat as a pancake. In one of the last scenes, his nemesis Blofeld is drilling into Bond's brain and announcing that he will soon have no memories. Craig's acting has had the same effect, I have already forgotten all about it.

1 comment:

  1. the aspect of Craig's histrionics is near truth except that I'd give the guy a little bit more leniency (because I am a woman lol!) .. and maybe he expended all his energy in kissing Monica Bellucci that he wasnt quite up to the game while doing the same with Lea Seydoux hahaha.. u sound as tired as Daniel Craig with himself lol.. Good write up!