Spectre is the fourth James Bond film starring Daniel Craig and the second film directed by Sam Mendes who also directed Skyfall; Daniel Craig is probably my favorite actor to ever portray Bond on the big screen. Casino Royale is in my opinion the best Bond movie ever made and it was a great introduction to Daniel Craig as the new Bond. Everything about the film works because it is not formulaic and we see Bond at the start of his double O career. He is very much human in that movie and for once he doesn’t seem like a super hero. Quantum of Solace was the second Daniel Craig movie that came out and it was a disappointment in comparison to the fantastic Casino Royale; while it was still decent and had all the Bond spectacles we have come to expect from the franchise, it failed to grab my attention plot wise. Skyfall, the third Daniel Craig film, was a return to form and was a brilliant movie in a different way than Casino Royale ; it was more emotionally grounded with a great Bond villain played by Javier Bardem. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the new Bond movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not as great as Casino Royale or Skyfall, but it is definitely not as dull as Quantum of Solace.
The film opens stylishly and with promising energy; we see Bond walking around in disguise during a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City and that entire segment is made to look like one continuous tracking shot. The action sequence is unsurprisingly good and absolutely outrageous, but for the entirety of the Day of the Dead bit we don’t know Bond’s motives; it seems like he is operating on his own. We learn that M left Bond a video telling him to investigate a secret organization (Spectre) responsible for taking the lives of many agents from the previous film among other things. Monica Bellucci makes a five minute cameo as a widow for one inappropriate sex scene even by Bond’s standards and I thought she would have a bigger role in the movie having seen the trailer. The real Bond girl and the savior of the movie is Lea Seydoux who plays Madeleine Swann and she has excellent chemistry with Daniel Craig. While she does have intimate moments with James, she is not your typical gorgeous Bond girl put on screen for the sole purpose of being romanced by Bond. Dave Bautista plays the villain’s henchman and he is a classic Bond villain who is all muscles and only says one word in the entire film; there is a great fight scene with him and Bond on a train. When I learned that Christoph Waltz was going to play the main villain in the film I was excited, but the villain he portrays in this film is menacing on paper, however in the movie he just seems fabricated to connect all the villains from the other Daniel Craig movies. As great as it was seeing Christoph Waltz portraying a villain, the character was still a bit of a letdown.
Spectre works best when its operating as a fun, stylish and old school type of film, and there are a lot of surprisingly funny moments and one liners in the first half of the film. The entire movie is shot beautifully and Daniel Craig at this point embodies Bond with such ease and confidence; M’s presence is missed but Ralph Fiennes holds his own as her replacement. The only thing it lacks is the brilliance of Skyfall and the pure panache of Casino Royale, but the latest entry to the 007 franchise is cinematic escapism and entertainment at its finest. (7.5/10)