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SPECTRE - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
SPECTRE
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Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B
Special Effects: B+



It isn't long into the opening sequence of SPECTRE before you get a little distracted by the ridiculousness and find yourself thinking, You've got to be fucking kidding me. Bond falls several stories and is saved by a couch?

But that's both the blessing and the curse of SPECTRE, which has the misfortune of being the follow-up to Skyfall (2012), arguably the best James Bond film in franchise history. That movie had surprising depth to it, with real dimension to the characters.

When we first met Daniel Craig as Bond in 2006, it was more like a reboot, showing how Bond became bond to begin with. It was a breath of fresh air in a franchise turning stale for decades. Craig's second outing didn't quite live up to that film, but Skyfall was great enough to become the franchise's biggest box office hit. (Well, in unadjusted dollars, anyway; adjusted for inflation, Skyfall is #3, after Thunderball and Goldfinger. Still impressive.) This time, we go full circle in more ways than one, including a villain -- played with glee but without passion by Christoph Waltz -- who harkens back to the earliest Sean Connery days.

Thematically speaking, though, SPECTRE is a fairly simple return to the over-the-top nature of the average James Bond movie. Certainly there are countless Bond movies that are far worse (because there were a lot of bad ones), but neither is this one exceptional. It's still loads of fun to watch for any longtime fan of the franchise. Anyone impressed by Skyfall but otherwise not a huge Bond fan needn't bother.

That said, in spite of running a minimum of half an hour too long (clocking in at two hours and 28 minutes), several of the set pieces are spectacular, particularly the opening sequence. Sure, that couch thing is dumb, as is his barely escaping a collapsing building while still on the roof -- some of this stuff veers dangerously close the idiocy of the later Pierce Brosnan Bond films. But then, Bond chases a bad guy into a helicopter in which their fighting causes barrel rolls over a huge crowd of Day of the Dead revelers in Mexico City -- involving hundreds of extras. Once the helicopter gets in the mix, the sequence is a thrill and a half.

Much of this, of course, is just director Sam Mendes deliberately upping the ante after Skyfall, which he also directed. He reportedly waited only for the right script to come along before agreeing to sign on for another Bond film, which makes one wonder what perhaps got lost on the cutting room floor. SPECTRE has about two tons of unrealized potential, what with its tying together of all the blond-Bond villains in a relatively clever way. But this fourth outing with Craig, and a narrative going in this direction, the plot should have had more import. A whole lot of it kind of goes nowhere, merely in the serves of all these great action sequences. And by the way, Bond sure looks good for having the shit kicked out of him so often for a whole decade. (Daniel Craig was 38 when he started these; now he's 47.)

Some of this movie is refreshing within the Bond tradition; many have noted that one of the women he beds in the film -- played by 50-year-old Monica Bellucci -- is actually age-appropriate for once. But, again, unrealized potential: she disappears from the film early on, apparently to make way for the actual "Bond girl" of SPECTRE, 30-year-old Léa Seydoux. At least she's not 20, I guess.

And Seydoux has good chemistry with Craig, admittedly. The two of them are fun to watch together. She plays Madeleine Swann, daughter of a defected SPECTRE organization member to whom Bond has sworn to protect her. She factors into many of the subsequent action sequences and she holds her own, including a scene in which she helps dispatch an otherwise resilient henchman.

The bottom line is, SPECTRE as a film is a comparative mess, lacking the focus of its immediate predecessors, and yet it's in keeping with the traditions that have keep the Bond franchise running all these years. It's got all the beats that Bond fans come to expect, and although no one's going to cite this one as their favorite, they'll still have fun watching it and happily look forward to the next one in line.

SPECTRE

Daniel Craig and Léa Seydoux model for the debut of a new clothing line in SPECTRE.


Overall: B
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