Spectre opens in Mexico City. It’s the Day of the Dead and there is an enormous, colorful and animated celebration bubbling in the streets. Bond (Daniel Craig) is present, dressed as a dashing skeleton and chasing down bad guys in true 007 style. Within moments, he’s shooting at people, dangling from a helicopter, running hand in hand with a sexy woman, jumping from rooftop to rooftop and generally making a mess of one of the largest cities in the world.
Bond has gone rogue. He’s not supposed to be in Mexico and he shouldn’t be chasing the man he’s attempting to dispose of. Once James is back in London, M (Ralph Fiennes) calls him to his office and promptly lays into him. Bond is decommissioned and M warns him that if he pulls another stunt like he did in Mexico City, it’ll be the end of him.
M dismisses James after he’s made himself clear and as Bond turns to leave, another man named C (Andrew Scott) walks through M’s door. Instantly, it becomes clear that James isn’t the only one with problems. C thinks M, Bond and the entire program are old news and he wants to phase out M by shutting down the double-0 program. C wants to implement a global surveillance program that will ultimately make Bond and friends obsolete.
While M is focused on ensuring the double-0 program survives, James immediately takes off to do exactly what M instructed him to avoid. Bond has a score to settle and what seem like infinite loose ends to tie up. Spectre is the story behind Bond’s seemingly uncharacteristic need for closure.
Daniel Craig returns with the same dry wit and intensity we’ve come to expect from this incarnation of 007. Craig is beguiling, aggressive and forceful as James Bond. None of this is new, but it’s equally as engaging as the first time we came across it in Casino Royal.
Christoph Waltz is the ultimate bad guy as Blofeld. He’s charismatic, charming, terrifyingly serene and composed, even in the face of imminent danger. Waltz brings a level of elegance to the unscrupulous and magnificently dangerous Bloefeld that had me rooting for him the moment he first appeared on screen.
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann is impressive. She brings the sobering realism necessary to balance out the sensationally improbable scenarios in which she and James find themselves throughout the film. Ralph Fiennes as M also serves to ground the story. Fiennes is combative and compelling and keeps the story moving along at an adrenaline-filled pace even when Bond is not on screen.
Spectre opens with one of the most exhilarating scenes I’ve seen this year, but that generous momentum soon fades. Though the film is superbly cast and well acted, it eventually settles into an overly formulaic cadence. Sam Mendes (director) brings us a Bond film that feels entirely too familiar. I was looking for something new, that same something which finally made a Bond fan out of me with Casino Royal. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that in this film.
Yes, Spectre is an exciting movie replete with action sequences, sexy women (Monica Bellucci is undeniable) and witty one-liners, but I wanted more. What I wanted was not to get bored in between action sequences and that simply didn’t happen. It was just too easy to figure out where the movie was gong and I’m not even a true Bond fan, so I can’t imagine what the experience would be like for someone who knows the franchise well. Exciting and sensual is great, but a little more plot development would have gone a long way.
Spectre – C+
C+ = If you’re looking for something to do, watch this. However, please note that I’m not suggesting you go out of your way to do so. Don’t worry; chances are you won’t be mad I encouraged you to sit through this one.