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article imageReview: ‘Spectre’ isn’t the retirement party this Bond deserved Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 6, 2015 in Entertainment
‘Spectre’ is the weakest of the Daniel Craig-era Bond movies, but when its predecessors have been so impressive that just means it’s good instead of great.
One of the things many people liked about Daniel Craig was that he was ushering the classic spy into a modern day world. While James Bond was always ahead of the game in terms of technology, he’d been peddling the same archaic form of masculinity for decades. The era of Craig was meant to prove that 007 is actually just a man who’s exceptionally skilled at killing people. His first three films worked towards this goal and Spectre would be the last featuring the actor; unfortunately the new age of Bond ended with Skyfall.
After blowing up his childhood home and losing M (Judi Dench), Bond (Craig) finds himself on a new, unsanctioned mission to unearth a secret crime syndicate that has been pulling the strings on most of the world’s more devastating catastrophes. In the meantime, the government is pushing forward with its investigation of MI6 and the necessity of the double-0 program. In this uncertain climate Bond’s personal quest is putting his colleague’s careers in jeopardy, but that’s never slowed him down before. Travelling the world, he encounters many faces from his past before finally partnering with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of a criminal and the only one able to help Bond put together the pieces of the puzzle.
The goal of this picture is very obviously to wrap up Craig’s odyssey. It reaches back to Casino Royale and constantly reminds him of everything that has come before this moment, from his relationship with Vesper to villains he’s formerly faced. The narrative keeps taking him further back through his history until he uncovers the identity of the man and organization that have orchestrated most of the major upsets in Bond’s life. Walking down memory lane is a little tedious, especially since this concept of an ultimate puppet master has been seen before in the franchise; but it’s also somewhat satisfying to revisit some of the more captivating storylines.
More disappointing is the one-step-forward-two-steps-back approach that seems to plague this script. After making remarkable strides in establishing Bond as a multifaceted character with emotions and a heart, this movie virtually erases all that progress by reverting his personality to a version with cheesy dialogue and illogical sexual encounters. Moreover, that entrancing gleam in Craig’s eye is gone. Whether it stems from the comments he made before the film’s release or is meant to suggest a Bond exhausted by the high stakes drama, the actor just doesn’t radiate the allure that gripped audiences in the previous pictures.
Monica Bellucci and Daniel Craig star in  Spectre
Monica Bellucci and Daniel Craig star in 'Spectre'
Sony Pictures
Conversely, the scenes with M 2.0 (Ralph Fiennes) and Q (Ben Whishaw) are quite interesting. Both characters are exploring newer territory compared to the protagonist and encountering interesting obstacles along the way. M is forced to sit in wait as C (Andrew Scott), the new head of joint security, attempts to convince the world’s leaders that sharing all of their intelligence is the best defense against terrorism and thus eliminates the need for covert operatives such as 007. As a result, M and C are engaged in a civil and concealed battle for supremacy. Meanwhile Q is given more screen time in this picture, allowing his quirky yet charming personality to flourish. He finds himself in several high-pressure situations and appears to excel in each.
The opening Day of the Dead segment in Mexico City is striking. Bond’s costume is exquisite and it’s the most exciting (and ridiculous) action sequence in the entire film… unless you’re partial to watching two gorgeous, luxury vehicles race through similar streets in Italy before finally, predictably and heartbreakingly destroying the expensive piece of machinery. There’s also a confrontation between a plane and car; a few building-leveling explosions; high-speed boat manoeuvres; seemingly sexy train commotion; and the old strap-you-to-a-chair-and-tell-you-all-my-secrets routine. That’s right, this film actually uses its 148 minutes to go everywhere and do it all before retiring its hero’s suit.
The cast was expanded to include those listed as well as new villains played by Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista. Both actors were selected to portray characters that capitalize on their proven strong suits. Waltz is a confident, clever criminal with big ambitions, while Bautista is a heavy appointed to provide a physical presence versus Bond. Recurring “Bond woman” Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) is once again dangled as a prominent character before being relegated to the sidelines. Seydoux is positioned as the female lead, but in spite of all the hoopla around Monica Bellucci’s casting as the oldest Bond woman her appearance is basically a cameo.
This movie is definitely the weakest of the Craig era, suffering in comparison to its very strong predecessors. This also applies to the opening credits set to Sam Smith’s gloomy “Writing’s on the Wall,” which is interesting but not appealing. However the film is by no means unwatchable in spite of its flaws and will still satisfy most fans’ desire for closure.
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz and Léa Seydoux
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