“Spectre” was my eighth most anticipated movie of 2015. I loved “Casino Royale” (2006) and enjoyed “Quantum of Solace” (2008) and “Skyfall” (2012) and couldn’t wait to see what this installment had in store, especially when they casted Christoph Waltz as the main villain. And while “Spectre” isn’t the film I had hoped it would be, it is still a thrilling, compelling, epic spy film.
Following the events of the Skyfall mission, James Bond (Daniel Craig) receives a cryptic message from his past that sends him on a rogue mission to Mexico City and then to Rome, where he meets Lucia (Monica Bellucci), the widow of an assassin. Bond is informed of a secret meeting by Lucia, where he sneaks in and discovers an organization known as SPECTRE. In order to get to the heart of SPECTRE, he seeks the help of Q (Ben Whishaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and M (Ralph Fiennes), who are fighting their own battle to save MI6 from a new, technologically advanced company. They have him seek out Madeline Swan (Lea Seydoux), the daughter of a former nemesis who can guide Bond in the right direction. As the two of them get deeper and deeper into he mission, Bond learns he may be closer to the enemy than he ever thought imaginable.
Craig continues to be one of the best Bond’s ever to grace the screen. He’s suave, sarcastic, tormented, and badass. If this is his last Bond film ever, he’ll forever be remembered for this role. Christoph Waltz, who plays the villain, is usual Christoph Waltz. He delivers his lines at the highest level, is charmingly scary, and steals the show whenever he is on screen. Seydoux really impressed me. She’s a strong, yet vulnerable and cold woman who is unlike any Bond girl before. Whishaw adds some nice comedic relief, Fiennes is reliably good, and Bellucci is useless, as she is used as a plot device for Bond to get to the meeting and then have sex with her. Classic Bond.
Like “Skyfall”, director Sam Mendes adds visual flare and gravitas to “Spectre”. What he does best is mix the darker, new Bond with some of the old school light heartedness like the original. We get all the Bond staples like the cars, the women, the gadgets, the music, and the globe trotting, along with the themes and moodiness of the new ones. It’s a stunning movie to look at, thanks to cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, who does a great job filling in for “Skyfall” DP, the legendary Roger Deakins. The opening sequence, which is one long tracking shot through the streets of Mexico City, up into a hotel room, then watching Bond scale several buildings to kill an assassin, is something to marvel. The action sequences are thrilling and exciting, featuring one of the best fights scenes of the year between Bond and terrifyingly large, silver thumbed Hinx (Dave Bautista).
“Spectre” is not a perfect film, however. As I said above, Bellucci’s character is useless and the scene with her makes no sense other than a plot device. It is also a painstakingly awkward scene to watch, as they exchange plans and kiss the top of each other’s lips for minutes on end. The story gets a little muddled at times and feels more like a basic spy movie with Bond conventions as opposed to a Bond movie. My biggest issue with the film is how they dealt with the villain. This has been a common issue throughout all of Craig’s Bond films. The villain has never been a big character in these films. They are usually on screen for less than an hour, where they give their huge diabolical plan and then get defeated by Bond in the end. With “Spectre” being the grand finale of the series, and tying all the films together, I expected a little more from this villain. And while he does have more screen time and is slightly different from the previous three villains, they didn’t use him correctly. He should have been a focal point in the plot but was only relevant at the end. And, I don’t want to spoil anything, but Waltz’s character in James Bond world is equivalent to The Joker in Batman world. It should have been the epic showdown we have been waiting for this entire series. It’s unfortunate the misuse of this character happened, because it could have been great.
“Spectre” is a fun and exciting film. Though flawed with some of its characters and story, it is an entertaining watch and needs to be seen on the big screen to enjoy the vast landscapes and action scenes. If this is the final Bond of this series, it goes out on a high note.
MY RATING – 3/4
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