PG-13 | 148 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters November 6, 2015**
Synopsis: A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.
Review: Bond films (yes Bond is an actual adjective) had a huge resurgence when Daniel Craig put on the white suite, signed his License to Kill card, and went to work thwarting maniacal syndicates. Much of what I would say about Craig and his positive addition to the role I expressed in my SKYFALL review. With SPECTRE we get more than just a good Bond we get a wonderful addition to the franchise.
The 007 program has been reeling since the events of SKYFALL and James (Daniel Craig) especially seems to be as rouge as ever. M (Ralph Fiennes) tries his best to keep him under thumb but with little success. Making things worse is C, the new "boss" (Andrew Scott), intent on dissolving the 007 program in light of a new super monitoring system that is able to keep an eye on everyone and everything. As always Bond has to fly under the radar, catch the bad guys, save the program, get the girl; all while keeping his suit wrinkle free.
Many people, film critics especially, like to hate on the Bond films. It is as if they go into them expecting something different or outside the normal 007 world. By now we know that, few exceptions aside, these films follow a very strict format and seldom stray from the template. You could take this installment and plug in characters or story arcs from the 70's or 80's and never miss a beat. But it works and in most cases better than ever. The main ingredient being the man in the suit. If he is a powerhouse then the film works. Fans have a small list of items to check off and in SPECTRE they get them and more.
If Bond is the main ingredient the spices come in three packets; the villain, the girl, and the gadgets. These are important staples and have been iconic elements in every Bond film. In Casino Royal and the Craig films that followed we didn't get a strong dose of the gadgets. Even though Q (Ben Whishaw) gets some ample screen time in this one and there are a few toys to geek out on I could have used much more. Granted Craig is the sort of Bond that isn't afraid to get his hands dirty and doesn't need all the bells and whistles that past 007's did.
The villains in this one are fantastic though. Christoph Waltz joins the cast as a creepy little nuisance hell bent on revenge. Why he has such a hatred toward James Bond unfolds throughout the story. The "whys" get a tad muddy and may have you questioning a few plot holes. Waltz is a strong enough actor though that what he does with the character elevates it out of the murky waters of bad writing. Hinx (Dave Bautista) is the henchman that makes it all worthwhile though. He is a classic throwback to the bad guys of yesteryear, think Oddjob from Goldfinger. Like a human tank with ears he grunts and smashes his way through each scene. He is a worthy foe and one that might be able to outmatch James. Hinx is fun to watch and every implausible scenario takes on a new life.
Now to the Bond girl. (See, again an adjective). Many people have been excited that this one has the older more mature Bond girl with Monica Bellucci as Lucia. That may be the case but understand that she is not in the movie enough to even be listed as a BG. With less than 5 minutes of screen time I would feel amiss to try and convince you otherwise. Madeleine Swann (LÈa Seydoux) is the girl to watch in this one and the one that James has to protect and love. Which is fine. Seydoux is great and fits the bill perfectly. Just be aware that if you thought this one was going to be a tad less misogynistic, think again.
It looks very ìBondî as well. Rome, Austria, and London are fantastic backdrops for the adventure elements. Like most Bond films the locations are another character. SPECTRE is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and language. It is action packed and full of wall to wall exhilaration. 148 minutes is a long time. This actually moves nicely and you will not feel every tick of the clock. I give it 4 out of 5 red arrows. I am a fan of Craig and he has given me reason to like the franchise again.
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