2012’s “Skyfall” marked a box office high and critical resurgence for James Bond. However, the 53-year-old franchise has, sadly and surprisingly, taken a downfall with the newest installment – “Spectre”: that’s Bland, James Bland.
Returning director Sam Mendes does deserve credit for getting things off to a rousing start, with Daniel Craig’s 007 in Mexico City amid a Day of the Dead celebration that features a sloppy assassination attempt and a wild helicopter extravaganza. The rest of “Spectre” is hit and miss.
Ralph Fiennes takes-over the position of “M”, following the death of Judi Dench’s character at the end of “Skyfall”. (If you didn’t know that fact by now you have no reason to go to “Spectre”.) And boy, do both Bond and this film miss Dench’s presence. Following the Mexico fiasco, M grounds Bond, but that doesn’t stop the agent from going “rogue” and finding his own way of getting in and out of sticky situations.
“Spectre” has all the gadgets associated with a great James Bond movie: cool weapons, fast autos, exotic locations, beautiful women and a devious villain. Oberhauser, head of the evil Spectre organization, is played by the new king of the modern movie villain: Christoph Waltz. But this time, much like the car that Bond uses during one of the many chase scenes, this script has no fire-power.
Three years ago, singer Adele belted-out the title track “Skyfall” all the way to an Oscar. Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On the Wall” accompanies “Spectre’s” opening credits montage, which is rather bizarre, even for Bond standards. The song, like the entire film, is generic and uninspiring.
“Spectre” runs 2 hours and 28 minutes, and it moves along at a snail’s pace, only accelerating during a few solid splashes of action. Waltz doesn’t get much to do, and Lea Seydoux (who plays Bond girl, Madeline Swann), is a full 17 years younger than Craig in real-life. It would’ve made more sense if Bond was a new father figure in her life than love interest, especially considering the elements of his past that are revealed.
“Spectre” has none of the intrigue, excitement, emotion, humor and charm we’ve come to expect from this franchise, not to mention a story with legitimate purpose. It’s downgraded James Bond to being just another cinematic agent, along with Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt and all the rest. And that’s a REAL crime.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “ Spectre ” gets a C.
Running Time: 148 min.