By Murphy Kenefick
Back with more explosions and less substance, “Spectre” is the twenty-fourth film in the James Bond franchise, following the critically acclaimed and Academy Award winning “Skyfall.” “Spectre” follows 007’s recuperation after the explosive finale and fallout of the previous installment. It comes with plot-holes, inconsistencies and lapses in pace, but overall I had a good time with this film. “Spectre” definitely feels long, but not necessarily in a bad way, rather like a big sprawling epic, which it pretends to be more than it actually is.
Visually, the film is impressive (especially the opening tracking shot), though not to the level of “Skyfall.” “Spectre” definitely feels like old school Bond, which is something that most viewers have complained about, saying that it doesn’t work with the rest of the franchise or tone, but I would say that it functions quite well in the context.
The story is convoluted and overdrawn at times, adding extra weaves and steps that may not be necessary for Bond and gang, but Sam Mendes makes it fun to watch anyway, usually catering to the audience, nudging them just to make sure they are still interested and having a good time.
The reason for the perpetual entertainment is the great action set pieces of Austria, Mexico City, London, North Africa, Rome and so on, moving all over the place. This can be a tactic to distract the audience from a lack of story while the director shows you new, pretty things. I am sure this is occasionally the case, but for the most part, there is a lot going on, and while it is not bulletproof (unlike his car), it still puts on a great story.
The film is full of Bond-isms with watches, cars and various costumes that would only belong in this genre of film, along with an exceptionally cliché villain, which works as a throwback to the much earlier films (which I’m guilty of not seeing). Christoph Waltz plays the antagonist role very well when he is given screen time, but the part is ultimately wasted as he never really appears until about an hour and a half into the film.
I am glad I watched the other three Daniel Craig films before this, because somehow this film unexpectedly ties up a lot of loose threads from the other films, bringing references and resolution to the older films. So if this ends up being his last time in the role, due to the apparent excruciating physical rigor, this was a good send-off for him.
Overall, the film works as a well-crafted blockbuster, but maybe not as expertly as “Skyfall” or even “Casino Royale.” If you are a big James Bond fan and are looking for a globe-trotting, spying good time, “Spectre” will gratify.