Daniel Craig is back for the fourth time as James Bond, in the 24th iteration of the character originally created by author Ian Fleming. For Spectre, director Sam Mendes, who helmed the critically acclaimed 23rd Bond film Skyfall, also returns, bringing along with him a talented supporting cast led by Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz.
The film starts off in Mexico, during Day of the Dead celebrations. James Bond is on an undercover mission, but has somehow found the time to impress himself upon an attractive young woman. The scene seems very familiar, especially to avid Bond fans: Our favorite superspy has gone undercover to track down some violent criminal. A chase ensues, and in the end Bond gets his man, but receives a cryptic clue at the same time.
As the film rolls on, we follow Bond as this cryptic clue leads him farther and farther down the rabbit hole. With the help of his friends at MI6’s London office, 007 discovers a terrorist organization by the name of Spectre. Bond travels the globe trying to unravel the truth behind this mysterious organization and expose its mysterious leader, who may know more about Bond than he thinks.
One of the bright spots about Spectre is its seamless transitions between the two main storylines that make up its plot. The first takes place with Bond on his mission to protect the innocent and destroy the Spectre organization. The second takes place back in London, with Bond’s supporting cast: M (Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) do some digging of their own to help Bond out of trouble and uncover information key to his mission’s success. Naturally, the focus of the storyline is on Bond, but the lovable London-based characters certainly steal a few scenes.
Spectre is estimated to have cost around $300 million, making it one of the most expensive films ever made. This paid for explosions, destroyed cars and some absolutely breathtaking set locations (Italy and Austria stand out the most). However, even with all this cash, the filmmakers could not fix the two major flaws in this film’s production. The first has to do with predictability and the second, with emotion.
While watching Spectre, one cannot shake the feeling of “been there, done that.” The film lacks the sense of originality usually associated with Sam Mendes’s films, the originality for which Skyfall was hailed. Many scenes are just trivial depictions of good-guy-bad-guy interaction that anyone with a television has seen before.
As far as lack of emotion, the characters in many scenes seem to have no motivation for their actions. It is hard for an actor to elicit an emotional response from his or her audience with such seemingly low stakes, and this was the problem that many of the characters ran into. The actions of the villains seemed forced in a way that was almost awkward.
What Spectre loses in substance, Daniel Craig makes up for with his portrayal of Bond. With his first three iterations of the character, Craig cemented his status as one of the greatest actors to ever take on the role. In the fourth, Craig adds to his legacy. Also, although he has a minor roll, Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx makes a solid argument for being the second-most intriguing character in the film.
Spectre will find success at the box office because the character James Bond is inherently exciting and fun. But it certainly won’t go down as one of the classic Bond films, nor will it have the associated pop culture impact of its more substantive predecessors.