Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: After a year, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is still reeling from the death of his former boss M at Skyfall, and is carrying out an unsanctioned investigation of those events to determine who was responsible. He has received information from M, reaching out from the grave, to provide a thread to follow to find out who was behind the bombing of MI6 headquarters in London.
The trail starts out in Mexico City, where Bond picks up a clue from some bad men regarding “The Pale King”, as well as an important artifact. Alas, any hope of keeping his activities below the radar literally goes up in smoke as mayhem ensues as well as international news headlines. Naturally, Bond is summoned to MI6 HQ and called on the carpet by the new M (Ralph Finnes), and ordered to stay inactive in London. But, as they say in England, not bloody likely. With a little inside help from Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and Q (Ben Whisaw), Bond is quickly on the move to Europe to follow leads that he hopes will finally bring him to grips with the shadowy criminal organization Spectre, and whoever is in command pulling the strings. Along the way he makes the acquaintance of the beautiful Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), who is highly intelligent and highly uncooperative when it comes to helping Bond.
This is the fourth Bond outing for Daniel Craig as James Bond. It has a number of the trademark action sequences that are highly suspenseful. There is a fight scene for Bond on a train that is just brutal. In fact, Craig was injured doing that scene, and production had to be stopped for two weeks. While there aren’t as many gadgets as used in some Bond movies previous to the Daniel Craig era, there is a great chase scene using the new Aston Martin DB10 automobile, created specifically by Aston Martin for this film. Bond films are basically stand alone storylines, but Spectre in some ways is a sequel to Skyfall. While this film is a thoroughly enjoyable yarn, it may suffer in the minds of viewers and critics as lacking enough of a satisfying climatic ending that is expected in the Bond genre. Also, while Daniel Craig is ruthless and relentless in the Bond role which is true to the character from the Ian Fleming novels, his Bond character lacks the occasional clever quip and double entendre that made us love Sean Connery’s portrayals, and to some extent Pierce Brosnan as well. Craig’s Bond uses his 00 license to kill, and his cold demeanor makes it hard for some viewers to like him.
Spectre: The film never gets around to explaining just what Spectre is. In the Fleming novel Thunderball, SPECTRE is an acronym standing for SPecial Executive for Counter intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. It is a worldwide criminal syndicate that is politically neutral; their only goal is accumulating wealth by any means.
New Bond Movie Trend: In the old days, Moneypenny was stuck behind a desk in M’s outer office. Thank goodness she is getting out in the field. The more Naomi Harris the better! Even more unusual is Q is out and about in some danger, and even M is out of the office and kicking some ass. A new age for Bond movies!
Bond Girl: Having a beautiful female lead is critical in Bond movies, and French actress Lea Seydoux is terrific in her role. She may be the hottest female lead since Daniela Bianchi way back in From Russia With Love.
Huh, What The ….: I can’t help but wonder as Bond and Ms Swann careen around the world non-stop how they always have changes of beautiful clothing everywhere they go. It’s uncanny.
See the eight car train rolling along with Bond and Ms Swann in it. Where are the other passengers?
Dialogue Nuggets: M – “007, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but it’s got to stop!”
Bond – “With all due respect, sir, it could have been worse.” M – “Worse! You blew up a bloody block!”
Q to Bond – “I believe I said to bring it back in one piece, not bring back one piece.”
Widow to Bond – “You killed my husband, didn’t you?” Bond – “He was an assassin. He didn’t take it personally.”
Moneypenny to Bond – “I think you’ve got a secret and you don’t tell anyone. Because you don’t trust anyone.”
“It was always me, James. The author of all your pain.”