‘Spectre’ Can’t Make It To ‘Skyfall’ Heights

3.5 stars

Filled with beautiful women, fast cars, and undeniably cool action sequences, Spectre has all the necessary ingredients to make a great Bond film. Compared to its predecessors, however, the new James Bond film is, simply put, underwhelming. The movie’s release comes at a time when the Bond franchise is more successful than it has ever been before, with Skyfall raking in at over $1.1 billion. While it makes a clear attempt to be the biggest and boldest Bond film yet, it leaves the viewer thinking, “It’s good, but definitely not as good as Skyfall.”

The film focuses on the past as much as it does the present. It follows Bond along a trail to uncover an evil rogue organization known as Spectre, which leads him to dig deep into his mysterious past. The MI6 agent must also face the risk of a new intelligence agency that threatens to eliminate the 00 program.

With a few exceptions, Spectre’s supporting cast does a great job at keeping the movie interesting. Bond’s female counterpart, played by French model and actress Lea Seydoux, has a much larger role than the typical “lover for a night” seen in past films. Actor Christoph Waltz masters the portrayal of the maniacal super villain, leading Bond through a psychological maze of twists and turns as he tries to complete his mission. Building off his equally crazy roles in Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds, Waltz’s somewhat insane character adds an extra bit of witty fun to the film.

 

The film is undoubtedly the most emotional of the Daniel Craig era. (This is obvious from the opening credits with Sam Smith’s shrill and over the top vocal performance.) It focuses more on Bond’s personal life than any other previous Bond film, delving deeper into his love life than any of its predecessors. The plot also raises questions about Bond’s past, his ideals, and his future as a spy. In fact, Spectre has unprecedented character development. This is definitely interesting to see in a franchise where the protagonist is usually too cool for any form of emotional change. Any progress it makes, however, is squandered when director Sam Mendes abandons earlier developments to get that necessarily slick Bond finale.

A couple other irritating plot holes leave the viewer wondering if this James Bond is the same as the one seen in the last movie. Factors that played a large role in the previous film seem to be nonexistent. Problems like Bond’s aging and poor health that dominated the last movie have disappeared, as he’s transformed into an almost younger-looking, fitter version of himself.

In terms of overall themes, the entire movie plays on the “this is bigger than all of us” idea without really coming to any equally grave conclusion. It’s something of a reflection on all of the past Daniel Craig Bond films, stitching together plot points from previous movies to form a web of connectedness.

The viewer is left waiting for an “aha” moment that never fully occurs. During its lengthy periods of introspective soul-searching the film even gets somewhat boring. Admittedly, this new reflective angle does allow the film to play off the usual bond cliches, making for some good dry humor and clever plot twists.

At its core, Spectre is overall still a Bond film: smooth, fun, and action-packed. It’s not Skyfall, but it’s definitely a film worth seeing.

Featured Image By Columbia Pictures