Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Movie Review: Spectre (2015)

Spectre (2015) directed by Sam Mendes

The latest Bond flick starts with a classic over the top action sequence that doesn't seem connected to the main plot; it's like those cartoon shorts they show in front of Pixar films. Or the opening sequences of the old Bond films. Pretty soon after the credits, the opening sequence turns out to follow directly from the last film. Judy Dench's M left a video message for Bond to kill someone and go to their funeral. Bond is dutifully doing what he does best...without telling the new M (Ralph Fiennes). So Bond is on the outs with his superiors. Interestingly enough, the whole Double-O initiative is on the outs with MI-5, whose head, C (Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty on Sherlock) is ready to junk M's division. C is working on approval for a monitoring system that will invade everyone's privacy, including Double-O and MI-5 agents. So while James is tracking down a shadowy agency lead by a guy who first appears literally in a shadow (Christoph Waltz), M is fighting the good fight to keep the Double-Os online and tanking C's plans.

The two slightly convoluted plots do converge by the end of the film, which may be the main problem of the film. The story bends over backwards to fit together not only the two separate plot threads (which isn't so unbelievable) but all the other Daniel Craig movies as well (unbelievable even by Bond standards). The revelation is unconvincing and disappointing. The bad guys have plenty to do without trying to take credit from previous films.

The other problem is the villains. C is a good villain but his plan seems like a re-run of a dozen other films. Christoph Waltz's villain is surprisingly bland. Waltz tries to give him some character but the performance just doesn't work. He's not particularly menacing or campy. Without a good villain the movie is less satisfying.

On the other hand, the action sequences are amazing and the location spectacular (as you'd expect in a Bond film). Craig is great as Bond. Fiennes makes a good, hands-on M and the other regulars (Q and Moneypenny) work well with Craig's Bond.

I can't really recommend this film except for Bond completists. And if you haven't seen the film by now, you probably aren't a Bond completist.

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