Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig
Rated: PG-13 (For intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and language)
The last time we saw James Bond 007 was in “Skyfall,” which was one of those rare movies that perfectly blended art and pop culture into something great. It was a more personal Bond film than we had seen before, and it brought character depth to the famous British import that we had never really seen in this series. Going into “Spectre” must have been a daunting task for director Sam Mendes (who directed the aforementioned film), and he probably knew there wasn't much he could do to top the last adventure on an emotional level, so he decided to focus on a grand scale adventure this time around. And – thanks to a recently settled lawsuit – he was able to make one with Spectre, the great criminal organization that was the focus of some of the best Bond stories in the past.
In a bit of coincidence, Bond (Daniel Craig) has gone rouge as he searches for a man to kill. He is doing so because the previous M (Judi Dench) was such a workaholic, that she recorded another mission for 007 to complete on the off chance she was killed (which happened in the last film). This name leads Bond to find the secret Spectre organization, and its mysterious leader (Christoph Waltz) who runs everything. Only problem is he's been dead for over thirty years. This may sound like a set up to one of the most complicated stories in the 007 series, but most of the film is actually pretty straightforward. It consists of Bond finding out the name of a place, going to said place, and engaging in an action sequences before the process gets repeated.
In the middle he finds time to sleep with some girls (with the biggest twist in the film being that one of these girls – played by Monica Bellucci – is 50, his own age), so I guess the equality movement hasn't affected this series yet. Many of these action sequences are classic Bond, with the cars and gadgets we've come to love from this series combined with the rapid pace ADD-style editing kids these days are used to. Does all of this need to be two and a half hours though? I'm not convinced, and the length is what brings most of this movie down a few notches. It takes way too long to get to Spectre and the secrets behind the organization, and the film seems unable to make the discovery aspect of the narrative very interesting.
Many of the action sequences are spectacular, but there are a few of them where you get the sense they are doing little more than stalling for time. There is a subplot where the 007 division is in danger of being shut down. This means Bond will be doing most of these things on his own watch, but since that seems to be the case most of the time; it's hard to understand why this should be any more special. “Spectre” is, at the end of the day, a return to form for the Bond series. It gives fans of these movies exactly what they want and not much else. The only real difference is you get much more of the same than usual. Sometimes going back to the basics is beneficial when a series has lost its way. In this case the series was growing for the first time in its history, so going back to what worked before is a little disappointing, no matter how fun the results are.