It’s hard to follow up a classic. The Dark Knight Rises was never going to be as good as The Dark Knight, and if you didn’t accept that going in, then you were probably setting yourself up for disappointment. The James Bond franchise spans over 50 years and 24 films. 2012’s Skyfall might’ve been one of the best entries of them all. With a stellar cast, solid story, exhilarating action, and memorable villain, it cemented itself as one of the best Bond films in recent memory and set the bar high for any film to follow.
Spectre brings back most of the people that made Skyfall a classic. Director Sam Mendes returns along with Daniel Craig who stars as James Bond for the fourth, and perhaps final, time. Also returning are Ralph Feinnes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Ben Winshaw as Q. Clearly, the pieces are all here to make Spectre another phenomenal film, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.
The film’s plot revolves around an undercover mission given to Bond by the now deceased former M (Judi Dench) that leads him up against the evil organization SPECTRE and its mysterious leader (Christolph Waltz). With the help of the daughter of one of the organization’s ex-members (Lea Seydoux), Bond must bring down the organization before they manage to infiltrate major government agencies around the globe.
Any Bond enthusiast, like myself, will recognize the name of the organization as the classic overarching nemesis of the 60’s and 70’s James Bond films. And there are loads of moments in the film that pay direct homage to those films. The problem is, too much of the film plays out like this. Daniel Criag’s Bond films (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall) all have made their mark in the franchise by managing to sway from Bond film clichés while still keeping the character true to form. And yet, Spectre feels like one of the most predictable spy films in years from the plot to the villain.
That is not to say that Spectre isn’t an enjoyable movie. The action sequences, many featuring Guardians of the Galaxy’s David Bautista as an assassin, are all beautifully shot and executed. There is also undeniable chemistry between all of the members of the lead cast and it’s hard not to love Daniel Craig as James Bond. But, from the opening chase sequence and Sam Smith lead theme song to the climactic showdown between Bond and Christoph Waltz’s formulaic villain, everything just seems like a step down from Skyfall. If you go in expecting an upgrade or even a film better than Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, you might feel slighted. If you’re going in just to be entertained by James Bond doing James Bond things… well then… enjoy!
FINAL GRADE: B