Starring Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Monica Bellucci
Daniel Craig’s fourth round as James Bond opens with a wild helicopter sequence in Mexico City during The Day of the Dead. But we might as well be celebrating the death of the Craig collaboration with Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) because for its expansive budget, Spectre doesn’t have much to offer. Craig’s press interview comments aside, Spectre never gets close to the prestige of Skyfall, arguably one of the greatest 007 films in recent memory. This biggest disappointment was the striking similarities between Spectre’s plot and that of Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, both spy thrillers have their lead agent working to bring back their discontinued agency.
James Bond (Craig) still reeling from the events of the Skyfall mission, follows up on a lead from his dearly departed former boss as she continues to give him orders from the grave. He uncovers a ring with an eerie symbol that will bring back ghosts from his past. Attending a funeral in Rome, Bond acts against the orders of his new M (Fiennes) as London prepares to embrace a new world order of security monitoring. “A place where there is no mercy,” is exactly where 007 is headed and what he uncovers is a secret organization called Spectre, headed by a man named Oberhauser (Waltz) who is documented as deceased.
This latest installment seems out of date compared to new generational spy thrillers like Kingsman.
For all the exotic locations (Tangier, Austria, Rome) this Bond film meanders worse than normal. We begin and end in London, making all the travel to and from seem worthless. Casting two time Oscar winner Waltz (Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained) as the villain seemed a bit of typecasting, but he is an amazing talent nonetheless. However, the script gives him very little to do, and with only one diabolical laugh, his talent is literally wasted. Craig and Mendes continue making Bond a dark, brooding film, “out of horror and into beauty”. The style is the only thing reminiscent of the previous film. Too often a bore as filmmakers desperately search for new ground. This latest installment seems out of date compared to new generational spy thrillers like Kingsman.
Many times the Bond films (or at least the ones starring Craig) tie everything together with a killer conclusion, as if everything in the first two hours, pay off in the last 30 minutes. Spectre is deflated by its conclusion, and much of that is because Mendes focuses on Craig’s abrasive demeanor more than an interesting story. What Spectre does well is connect all the Craig Bond films together through a “I’ve been watching you the whole time,” scheme. I won’t spoil it, but the idea of vein that runs through a section of the series is more interesting than having all the sequels stand alone. Lower your expectations if you want to enjoy this one.
Spectre can’t live up to Skyfall.