(directed by Sam Mendes, 2015)
*** (out of 5)
> The specter of previous Bond films haunts this movie, taunting it silently from beyond the screen for not being better.
. All the ingredients are here: familiar characters, the best actor ever to play Bond (Daniel Craig), a first rate director (Sam Mendes), sexy women for our hero to seduce, a nasty bad guy with a plan for world domination to defeat, a big budget for the Broccoli production machine to play with, and that familiar theme song that just resonates mystery and intrigue… Everything is there, but SPECTRE is a bit like a lopsided cake or a soufflé that fails to rise to the occasion. Not as appealing as hoped, but still tastes good though.
. The production looks kind of dirty and gritty, the colors as washed-out as Christoph Waltz’s bland, boring Blowfeld. (Give me Donald Pleasance in that role, malevolently petting that fluffy white hissing cat.) Even Telly Sevallis was better than this flat, drab performance from a very good actor. Here, the great German import Waltz just fails to deliver… anything.
. The film occasionally commits the cardinal sin of being dull. Too talky. And some of the things this James Bond said just didn’t ring true in my ears. But it was nice to see the way this and the newer Bond films have cleverly worked characters like M and Q and (in this case a beautiful new) Monneypenny into the action. No longer are they just mannequins in window dressing. Ben Wishaw, Ralph Finnes and Naomie Harris have plenty to do here, and they are good. Unfortunately the stunts are not as good or grand-scale as in some of the previous Bonds- including an explosion so large it made the Guinness Book of Records. What a waste of money! They might just as well have built and exploded a small model and digitally integrated it. It was such a throwaway moment, we would never have noticed.
. Daniel Craig is widely quoted as saying he is not inclined to put himself through another Bond film, but he was an executive producer on this puppy, so it made him millions. I suspect if asked back, he’ll return. I hope so. The same way the Beatles reunited temporarily to produce Abbey Road, a more fitting swan song than Let It Be, I’d hate to see the best Bond yet go out on a flat note.
UPDATE: Just announced yesterday: Daniel Craig WILL indeed return one final time as James Bond 007!
A chance to redeem himself!
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