Movie Review with Jeff McCullough: Spectre

By Jeff McCullough on November 23, 2015 from Movie Review via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Can we all just pause for a moment and realize how nuts is that Spectre is the 24th film in the James Bond franchise?  Six actors, over a dozen directors, and countless martinis (shaken, not stirred) have redefined the spy film over the past 50 years, turning Bond into one of pop culture’s longest reigning icons.
               
As much success as the Bond franchise has had over the decades, the last couple of years has seen the series reach even loftier heights. In particular 2006’s Casino Royale  and 2012’s Skyfall , both starring Daniel Craig as Bond, have stood out as not just some of the best films in the Bond series, but some of the best spy films ever made.
               
Needless to say, the hype game for Spectre was enormous.  For those not in the no,Spectre is the most famous evil organization in Bond lore, the “big bads” whose acts of terrorism and villainy influenced nearly all of the franchise’s early films. Seeing how we haven’t seen Spectre in a film since the early 70s, longtime fans were understandably pumped up.
 
Unfortunately, while I was beyond excited to see the famous organization return, Spectre just feels a bit too derivative of the classic films it’s based on. It has the cat stroking super villain Ernest Blofeld from several films, the car chase from Goldfinger (complete with projector seat), the train fight out of From Russia with Love, the chase in the snow from Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the helicopter fight from You Only Live Twice--the list goes on.  To fans who haven’t seen all of the early films, none of this might be an issue, but I’ve never known it to be a good thing when a franchise starts look backwards.
 
That being said, holy heck is the action in this film fantastic. In particular, the opening section that follows Bond as he tracks down an assassin during Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration is adrenaline pumping chaos at its very best. A number of fist fights Bond partakes in with a humongous henchman played by professional wrestler Dave Bautista are some of the series’ most brutal, every punch landing with bone crushing intensity.
 
For the most part all is well on Spectre’s acting front. Daniel Craig is as excellent as ever, and the various ladies in his life are serviceable, if unmemorable.  Sadly though, the performance I was most looking forward to is the one that falls flat-- Christopher Waltz as the criminal mastermind Ernest Blofeld. The two-time Oscar winning actor should have made the perfect Bond villain, but a lack of buildup combined with limited screen time end up being a big disappointment.
 
There is a lot of fun to be had with Spectre, but the mish-mashed story and mediocre antagonists stop it from being a true classic. If this truly ends up being Daniel Craig’s last time as Bond, it’s a satisfying enough end, but perhaps not a strong a conclusion as hoped for.
 
3 and a half stars out of 5



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