Movie Review: “Spectre”

Movie Review: “Spectre”

Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

“Spectre” is not the best James Bond movie in the Daniel Craig era. The film is, however, another sexy, fast-paced edition of an iconic movie series.

As with every James Bond movie, the clothing, cars, locations, music and product placements in this installment all carry a certain weight, and this film takes those features to a new level. “Spectre” also showcases Bond in classic sunglasses that carry on his legacy as the epitome of suave. In addition to the glasses, “Spectre” includes superior costume designs that explicitly match the personality and role of each of the characters, particularly “Bond-girl,” Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux, “Blue is the Warmest Color”). The music, however, lacks the punch of the “Skyfall” soundtrack— Adele trumps Sam Smith when it comes to 007 theme songs.

While 007 always stars as the hero in the Bond series, the true success of a Bond film is typically reliant on its villain. The antagonist in “Spectre,” as played by Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”), fails to live up to the success of his predecessors. At times he pulls off the modern evil genius vibe, pushing the boundaries of technological ethics and abusing terrorism hysteria for his own gain. Yet the bulk of his role portrays him like a spiteful little brother who has been consumed by jealousy. Waltz puts in a typical convincing performance, yet the writing falls short in making him stand out.

Throughout “Spectre,” Bond’s past keeps coming back to him, and the film as a whole feels like a culmination of Craig’s previous three projects. Director Sam Mendes brings old faces back into Bond’s life as an effective way of carrying the main theme of the film: past meets present. The repeated references to the past will make the viewer want to go back and watch the preceding films, not to relive them but to clear up confusions that will likely arise in “Spectre”.

The action sequences contain, for the most part, gritty and realistic scenes, utilizing camera tricks and stunt doubles more than special effects. Nonetheless, some theatrical improbabilities will likely evoke a chuckle and shake of the head.

In the course of four movies, Daniel Craig’s Bond has made a complete turnaround. When he first became Bond, Craig established the character as a younger, tougher and more brash 007 who ignores MI6’s (the British Secret Service) traditional methods of operating. In “Spectre,” Bond assumes the role of an equally tough agent found isolated by technology who must preserve the classic intelligence protocol of his predecessors.

Bond has always been a rebel; that is what has made him such an enduring and iconic character. In “Spectre,” a new rebellious side emerges. More than ever, Bond is forced to operate on his own, outside the control of the British government.

Despite Bond’s personality changes and developing identity, Craig has established this latest character as the Bond of an entire generation. Just as Christian Bale has become the Millennial's Batman, Craig is the millennial Bond. With “Spectre,” he has convincingly joined the likes of Brosnan and Connery as symbols of an era in both cinema and western culture.

Grade: B

jstringer@theeagleonline.com

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