Director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig had a huge challenge in filming “Spectre” because it had to follow up their own previous work on the fantastic “Skyfall.”
“Spectre” starts with an amazing long tracking shot that follows Bond from the crowded streets of Mexico City during a celebration of the Day of the Dead, to a hotel room and then to a rooftop, where he’s keeping an eye on an enemy. After watching that sequence, I felt immediately reassured that Mendes would not be complacent.
But then the film turns into “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and a lesser version of it at that. The MI6 program has been deemed obsolete by a British security team that wants to control all the digital intelligence of nine countries, including jolly old England. Meanwhile, Bond must go rogue in order to bring down a mysterious terrorist group called Spectre, who may have more connections to his past than he thought.
While Craig is excellent as always as 007, he cannot make up for the meandering, sloppy plot of “Spectre.” The film tries too hard to tie together not only all of Craig’s films as Bond (“Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Skyfall”), but also Bond films of the past in a way that I will not spoil. But the turns in the story feel forced and nothing is really made of them once they’re revealed, resulting in the audience questioning, “so what?”
Having two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as the new Bond villain should have been casting gold, but it’s a tragedy that he’s given so little to do. He’s basically in the film for just three scenes, and while the first scene where he reveals himself to Bond at a secret Spectre meeting is effectively menacing, the follow ups fall flat. He supposedly has a long running grudge against Bond, but it’s never flushed out and his motives are never made clear. Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) is also wasted as a silent but violent henchman along the lines of Oddjob.
The action scenes are executed very well and while there are no OMG moments, they are technically sound and shot in a gorgeous fashion. There’s just too much exposition in between them and that’s where the film really loses momentum.
If there’s one thing I did really enjoy about “Spectre,” it was the growth of the character Q. Played to perfection in so many past Bond films by Desmond Llewelyn, he was reintroduced to the franchise in “Skyfall,” played by Ben Whishaw. Whishaw brings Q into the 21st century with his computer wizardry, yet also has some of the best lines in the film. I hope the Bond franchise keeps Whishaw, even with Craig reportedly not returning to the role of Bond.
“Spectre” is a decent entry into the Bond series but probably not one I’d be in a hurry to watch again.