Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Run Time: 148 minutes
The latest Bond is far from the best Bond and by comparison to Daniel Craig’s other turns in as 007, it comes up short, but some of that is because Casino Royale and Skyfall are amongst the very best of the now 24 films in the series.
Spectre picks up where Skyfall left off – with M trying to justify the existence of the 00 program in the face of a move to greater surveillance and technological espionage and Bond still operating like a buttoned-down loose cannon. He ends up on the trail of a criminal organization that turns out to have its tentacles in various terrorist activities around the globe – the titular Spectre – and its mysterious leader, the not-as-dead-as-everyone-thought Franz Oberhauser.
Things play out in typical Bond fashion – chases and explosions, a woman, lying to the boss, another woman, another chase, the bad guys with the upper hand, Bond rallies back. You know the formula and chances are you can figure out how things end up.
What hinders this latest entry into the James Bond oeuvre is that in comparison to Skyfall – and to a lesser extent Casino Royale – this is a step backwards.
Craig’s version of Bond has always been grittier, darker and possessing more angst than his predecessors, but here, he goes back to being a campier, cheesier Bond, which doesn’t work as well with Craig because that’s not what you’re used to from him. On top of that, the supporting cast all lose some of the depth and colour that made them stand out in previous installments.
Ralph Fiennes is squandered as M, playing a wooden paper-pusher where Dame Judi Dench always carried the right amount of sandpaper to keep Bond in line during her run with the role. Moneypenny, who started as a field agent before becoming M’s executive assistant at the end of Skyfall, is basically an office researcher now, while Ben Whishaw’s Q is transformed from a refreshing new take on the character to a stereotypical tech nerd, complete with “I have cats” jokes.
Where Bond looked like he was getting frustrated and darker last time out, he kind of brushes the events of Skyfall off in order to chase Spectre and skirts once again.
It’s not that Spectre is bad; it’s just not nearly as good as the two of the last three Bonds and that is disappointing. As an action flick – if this wasn’t Bond and was just Daniel Craig in a shoot’em up – it’s a little fracture, but still pretty entertaining.
But it’s Bond and because everyone was expecting more, don’t be surprised if you walk away feeling a little let down.