Spectre Movie Review
Sam Mendes directed one of the very best Bond films in history with 2012’s SKYFALL. Perhaps hoping to duplicate his magic, Mendes decided to take another turn in the directing chair for the 24th Bond film, SPECTRE. Having directed some of my all time favorite films in AMERICAN BEAUTY and ROAD TO PERDITION on top of a handful of others that I think are great with REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, AWAY WE GO, and the already mentioned SKYFALL, l personally had a certain level of excitement and expectations. Disappointedly, SPECTRE takes a backwards step falling into some of the normal Bond problems. SPECTRE still has value, able to entertain as a typical Bond film, but the bar has been raised on the franchise since casting Daniel Craig and I think audiences will expect better.
After receiving a cryptic message from his past, Agent 007,James Bond (Daniel Craig) is determined to uncover a villainous organization that runs deeper than expected. At the same time, M (Ralph Feinnes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Q (Ben Whishaw) must fight to keep the secret service agency from being replaced by surveillance and drone technology. In fact, if you saw this summer’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION, you will have a pretty good idea what SPECTRE is about.
But the typical Bond story line isn’t what bothers me. In fact, I think that the appeal of the dapper 007 agent killing the bad guys while getting the girl/s is all anyone has ever expected or desired from their Bond film. However, beginning with CASINO ROYALE, Craig’s Bond has been a grittier character that gets beat up physically and emotionally. Of course, Mr. Bond is way too cool to let any of that get to him but it still humanizes the character and his story. The films have improved, deepening the story and providing real tension and excitement. SPECTRE loses a lot of energy with too squeaky clean of a getaway.
There are three great scenes of note in SPECTRE and all have to do with Bond being put in a situation where he is on the losing end. The rest of the film spends too much time pushing the drama and relationship when it still feels unbelievable. Clocking in at 148 minutes, SPECTRE is just too long and could have easily been edited down to help with those pesky pacing issues. Dave Bautista (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) as the henchman Hinx, brings some needed energy to the film and Christoph Waltz (DJANGO UNCHAINED) has one of the best introductions for a Bond film, but is ultimately underutilized as the sinister main villain Oberhauser.
The score by long time Mendes collaborator Thomas Newman is engaging and the cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema (INTERSTELLAR, HER, THE FIGHTER, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN) is exceptional. The costuming has Bond and the ladies (Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux) looking suave and sexy and the gadgets and actions are mildly enjoyable. But as a whole, everything seems to be a solid step or two behind the incredible level we know this franchise can now achieve. SPECTRE is good, it’s just underwhelming.