by Steven Young
Bond is back in the newest installment — “Spectre.” Much hype has surrounded this movie, because for the first time in over 40 years the villainous organization known as Spectre has returned to take on James Bond and the world. So, did the movie live up to the hype or was it another misstep like “Quantum of Solace”? In all honesty, it is an improved version of “Quantum.” (Quick note: If you have not seen the other Bond movies with Daniel Craig, make sure you watch those before watching this movie as “Spectre” contains several spoilers to those movies and is largely tied together with those installments.)
In “Spectre,” after being suspended following a disastrous mission in Mexico City, James Bond is confronted by his past, as he uncovers some behind-the-scenes secrets. As he goes on a journey to reveal these secrets, M has to deal with the rise of a surveillance system that may prove to be tied with a sinister plan to monitor everyone. This plot is not the strongest the series has seen, but it’s not weak enough to be a problem. This kind of story harkens back to the conspiracy-driven “Quantum of Solace,” but is executed better here. The details are far more effective and purposeful than in “Quantum” — which just fell short on execution. The biggest gripe a Bond fan may have with this movie is that it too heavily references past Bond films. At times, it almost seems like a “greatest hits” Bond movie where it makes constant references to other action moments in the series. For example, at one point Bond is fighting a henchman on a train (“From Russia with Love”), Bond pursues one of the bad guys in an extended foot chase (“Casino Royale”) and Bond is suspended from his job and goes on a mission of revenge (“Licence to Kill”). Admittedly, this may be irritating for longtime fans (including myself), but newcomers probably won’t mind as these throwbacks are handled well enough that they may end up enjoying it more than when utilized in past films.
Acting is one of the film’s biggest strengths. Daniel Craig has perfected his performance as Bond, and seems to deliver his own unique take on Bond rather than drawing influence from Dalton or Connery. Special mention has to go to Christoph Waltz as the villain. He is both charming and downright terrifying in this movie, leaving audiences feeling about him how they felt after seeing “Inglorious Basterds.” On the other hand, some of the characters, though portrayed well, lacked much depth or purpose — such as Monica Bellucci who is only in the movie for five minutes after her character was hyped by the media as an older Bond girl.
Direction-wise, Sam Mendas seems to be going for more of a classic Bond vibe rather than the contemporary European take he went for with “Skyfall.” Execution-wise, it does the job well, but hits a little too much on the nostalgia factor.
While “Spectre” has its faults, it is still an enjoyable experience and I was able to walk away with overall positive feelings. It may not be as polished as “Skyfall” or “Casino Royale,” but it still delivers on the classic Bond goods.