Sunday, November 15, 2015

New Release! Spectre (2015)

Director: Sam Mendes

A barely-adequate modern Bond movie, which falls victim to the preceding film's shadow.

I suppose I've never been a massive James Bond fan. Sure, I thought the character was cool enough when I was a kid in the latter portion of the Roger Moore era. He had a slick accent, nice suits, cool gadgets, and the ladies seemed to love him. I got it, on some basic level. Still, even after going back to watch all earlier Bond films, and all through the Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnon eras, I never became obsessed with the franchise as many have.

That said, I've enjoyed Daniel Craig's run, and my hopes for Spectre were quite high. Casino Royale  was a really strong retelling of Bond's origin story. Quantum of Solace wasn't nearly as good, but it was decent enough. And then, Sam Mendes came along and gave us Skyfall, arguably the best-executed Bond movie of all time, bringing together so many great elements of modern action movies and the elements that have made Bond an indelible film franchise. So when I saw that not only was Mendes teaming up with Daniel Craig for the follow-up, but that the brilliant Christoph Waltz was going to be the villain, I figured that there was no way that Spectre could be anything less than brilliant.

The tank-like henchman, Mr. Hinx. Hinx was one of several
new characters with plenty of potential, nearly all of which
went untapped.
I figured a bit wrong. Spectre isn't necessarily a bad movie; it's just very thin. All of the things that you want to see are in it: the sinister, megalomaniacal villain, the terrifyingly massive and nigh-unstoppable henchman, the sleek cars, a few gadgets, the globe-trotting adventure. Yet, it is all held together with some very flimsy adhesive. The few new characters are only moderately engaging; the plot cobbles together ideas from other, similar films, including many from earlier Bond entries; and the dialogue showed very little imagination or creativity.

I will say that the movie does offer a decent sense of closure, not only for its own story but also for the Daniel Craig Bond era. It will likely please fans of Bond well enough. It will never become the joke that some past Bond films have become over the years. All the same, I would recommend against setting one's hopes too high.