Spectre is the latest addition to the decade-spanning James Bond franchise. It was directed by Sam Mendes and written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade.
For the fourth time, Daniel Craig reprises his role as the globe-trotting spy (well, assassin at this point) in yet another mission where he takes on a shadowy organization tied to the last three films and picks up a loosely related Bond girl in the process.
In Skyfall, we finally watched Bond’s full transformation into the suave 007 being built up since Casino Royale (still the best James Bond movie in decades). That’s why I find it strange that Mendes was chosen to direct the followup, considering the fact that Spectre should (by its franchise’s standards) be an evolution.
But Spectre is really just a very small step sideways. Granted, it’s beautiful and well-acted thanks to Mendes’s distinct, signature vision for these “origin” movies. And to the film’s credit, it merges much of what we know and love from the Connery films with this new iteration, effectively closing the loop on Craig’s story. The only problem is that this is executed to feel more like a needless homage, instead of a revival.
Perhaps Martin Campbell should have returned to direct, but he’s probably on retainer for the next actor’s take on the franchise. Though Mendes delivers much of what we want from Skyfall, his writers give us what amounts to a boring, overwritten script that could have used another rewrite.
Still, there are memorable set pieces throughout, including a long take early in the film that deserves to be seen on the big screen. The action scenes and editing are just as good as they were in Skyfall, and we have the best Bond girl since Vesper with Madeleine (Léa Seydoux), though her character somewhat falters throughout the last act.
So elements of Spectre work well, including the quips, choice of locations, and Craig’s performance. Like Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, our side characters, including Ben Wishaw’s Q, have more to do than ever, and it helps the film tremendously.
If you’re already invested in the James Bond universe, you’ll probably have a good time with Spectre. But the film doesn’t come together as well you’d expect, especially with Christoph Waltz’s Franz Oberhauser ultimately being relegated to a minor role for most of the film (similar to how Dr. No was structured).
Overall, Spectre is a good James Bond movie (and much better than Quantum of Solace). But its script and uneven story hold it back from being a good movie on its own.
For a more in-depth look at Spectre, come back this Sunday for the Now Conspiring podcast, where we’ll discuss this and other new releases.
I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni