Sunday, November 8, 2015

Review: Spectre

Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
With "Spectre," the James Bond franchise has taken one step closer to making 007 into a comic book character and this film's villain feels more like someone who should be facing off against Batman than a British spy. The picture has been directed by Sam Mendes, who was responsible for the last entry in the series - "Skyfall" - which was one of the better Bond films, especially in recent years.

So, while this latest installment is a pretty decent action movie and mostly fun, it falls short of Mendes' previous foray into the franchise and while it's often thrilling, it's often a little silly as well.

In the film, Bond (Daniel Craig) is given the news that his government's 00 program will be shutting down with a seemingly sinister surveillance program that Bond's boss, M (Ralph Fiennes), opposes replacing agents in the field. If this sounds similar, it's likely because you watched the recent "Mission Impossible" film, in which there was an operation to take Ethan Hunt's team out of commission.

Anyway, Bond stumbles upon a secret organization headed by a man named Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz, the go-to villain these days), with whom our hero shares a past, of sorts, albeit a slightly far fetched one. And, since this is a Bond film, there's a young woman (Lea Seydoux) to protect whose father was a former ally of Oberhauser, but has since turned against his boss.

As I'd mentioned before, the film gives off the vibe of a comic book movie, from the overuse of Bond cliches past ("Bond. James Bond" is uttered, a signature drink ordered, at least two women bedded) to a villain that - during the course of the film - has not one, but two secret lairs and a scarred face to boot. And Oberhauser's connection to previous Bond installments is also a little, well, overwrought.

All these quibbles aside, "Spectre" is an amusing enough - if occasionally slight - entry into the Bond franchise. There's a fun opening sequence during which 007 chases villains through a "Day of the Dead" celebration in Mexico and another well-choreographed chase through the snow involving an airplane with no wings.

But, ultimately, this is more of a middle tier James Bond movie. It's certainly better than the likes of "License to Kill," "Quantum of Solace" and "Tomorrow Never Dies," but it's no "Skyfall" or "From Russia with Love." However, it'll do.

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