“Spectre” marks the 24th film in the James Bond franchise, and the fourth in the reboot series, as a noble attempt to keep alive a franchise that is quickly growing stale and repetitive.
The film has been widely critiqued for having something beyond action and soft porn scenes: Plot.
That’s because it’s not necessarily a good plot. “Spectre” does what many sequels do when they run out of gas and takes its cues from the series’ previous successes and those of Hollywood’s clichéd past.
As MI5 and MI6 are merged into the Joint Intelligence Service, its head C (played by Irish actor Andrew Scott, known for his portrayal of Jim Moriarty in the BBC series “Sherlock”) works to create Nine Eyes, an international intelligence agency. With its creation means the end of the 00 program, so Bond (Daniel Craig) must go rogue as he seeks to carry out M’s last wish to destroy the criminal organization Spectre.
Director Sam Mendes and his team of writers not so subtly piece together the last three films with a literal octopus placing the antagonists of each on the tentacles and the most recent reincarnation of supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) on the head.
“Spectre” tries its best to create an action-packed spy thriller, but comes up short of the Bond legacy. While the film is commendable for its serious, real-world approach, its attempt to create character depth is made shallow by cheap romance and a serious lack of continuity.
Though Bond films have never been strong on their feminism, past Bond girls have had an intelligent yet edgy side. However, lead Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) comes across as pouty and flat, going from defensive to suddenly in love with assigned protector Bond to damsel in distress, all with little character motivation.
What “Spectre” lacks is clarity and direction. Rather than feeling like a cohesive revitalization of the characters and mechanisms from the “Thunderball” universe, it feels like a messy and incomplete project that even Sony expressed frustration with.
This is not to say it isn’t a good way to blow $20 and a night at the movie theatre.
The film is visually stunning, and touts an itinerary of Mexico City, the Australian Alps and Rome along with a multi-million dollar set of Aston Martin DB10s designed specifically for the film. Craig and Waltz carry the film with strong performances despite the mediocre screenplay, and the viewer is constantly engaged by chase scene after fight scene after torture scene after aerial scene.
“Spectre” is a great example of Hollywood’s success formula: Create a strong franchise that rakes in money at the box office and milk it for all it’s worth long after it’s past its prime. So for the James Bond series it may be time for Eon Productions to revoke the impeccably dressed protagonist’s license to kill.