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Ian Flemming’s novels about British Secret Service agent James Bond have been the gift that has kept on giving for over 60 years. What started in 1953 as simple words on paper, Casino Royale was the first step in capturing imaginations all around the world. That fascination turned his novels into television shows, radio broadcasts, comics, movies and eventually video games. James Bond has been featured in practically every platform possible. The first movie adaptation was Dr. No in 1962 starring Sean Connery as the dashing agent, 007. Daniel Craig is the sixth actor to take on the persona of Bond. Spectre makes the fourth time that Craig has donned the signature black tux which is, by the way, the average role expectancy for actors portraying brilliant British agent. No one is implying that this is his last time in the suave secret service saddle, but if it is, Daniel Craig surely wants to go out with a memorable bang.
Fallout from Skyfall is still glaringly present in Spectre. After all, with everything that went down how could it not be? James Bond (Daniel Craig) is off and running right at the start in an attempt to take down a group of men planning a terrorist attack. In the process Bond comes in possession of a ring with an octopus symbol on it. Since his mission ends in a dramatic (and expensive) fashion, the “new” M (Ralph Fiennes) benches bond as there is increasing pressure to end the “00” section of British Secret Service for good. Of course Bond continues his personal vendetta against evil, which this time around comes in the form of the Spectre organization. The leader of this shadowy legion is Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) who has several secrets of his own. Bond is in a race against time as he tries to uncover the truth while the organization he works for is in the process of being rendered useless by his own government.
In addition to M, Bond also has the help of a couple of familiar faces in Spectre. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) are also onboard once again to assist in whatever way is needed, albeit reluctantly at times. The new player heading up the Joint Intelligence Service, whose aim is to merge both MI5 and MI6, is C (Andrew Scott). On the beautiful love interest side, because that’s a staple of Bond movies, Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) is the daughter of Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who is now in his third Bond movie. Featured as the bad guy muscle is Hinx (Dave Bautista) who loves to get physical with James Bond any chance he gets. The character template is complete and is just like every other movie before it…unfortunately. Even as the bad guy, Christoph Waltz’s talents were very underutilized. His character is closer to that of his The Green Hornet counterpart rather than his intoxicating Inglourious Basterds one. That right there is grounds for major disappointment.
There are some breathtaking, white-knuckled action sequences featured in Spectre. Having said that, at times, it looks a little too cartoonish. The CGI and stunt doubles were not concealed as effectively as one might hope. As audiences become more astute in the tricks of the trade, these studios will need to start upping their game in some way or risk action scenes appearing as more of a punchline than a realistic punch. The gadgetry also seems to be lacking in this latest story. You’d think with real life technology advancements the imagination of men and women in this fictitious world of spies would leave us speechless. Well it’s more like the script writers grabbed a Sharper Image catalog from 2012 and said “yeah this will do.”
Giving Spectre a “007 out of 10” would be very apropos in this case, but unfortunately, it’s more of a standard issue movie rather than a cool trend setting spy flick that fans have come to know and love. Sadly this Bond is broken and a new direction is sorely needed. Spectre goes through the motions, checking off required Bond content boxes all the way to its anticlimactic end. The 148 minute runtime is not time well spent and, at times, it is just a downright boring narrative. Being the weakest of the four Daniel Craig led James Bond movies, Spectre may be a casualty of its own franchise’s success with the bar always being high. Expect to be entertained but not in a lasting way that’ll have you urging all of your friends head to the theater straight away.

Spectre is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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