Being a James Bond fan is like being addicted to an adrenaline rush. You can never get enough and there’s always something to take away from every foray into 007’s world. There’s just something alluring and stylish that it just keeps calling. The 24th Bond film to have its license to kill, Spectre, has a little bit of everything for everyone, even though its call-back to the past isn’t as fulfilling as it needs to be.

James Bond (played stoically by Daniel Craig) finds himself in the middle of Mexico City’s Day of the Dead celebration. On an unofficial mission of his own, given to him by the deceased M (Judi Dench), 007 is tracking two men who plan on blowing up a stadium, leading him to the widow (Monica Belluci) of a man named Sciarra. Bond, already on very thin ice with the newly appointed M (Ralph Fiennes), quietly recruits Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) to help him track down Madeleine Swan (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of an old enemy. Bond discovers the link between enemies he’s faced in the past and also learns that the past has a way of catching up to you.

Like every Bond film, there is a mystery to be solved as well as tons of action, lust, and in the case of Daniel Craig, smoldering stares of death. Once again, the loner MI6 agent is continent-hopping in style–Mexico City, Tangier, London, Rome–and with gadgets galore. Director Sam Mendes continues where he left off with Skyfall and in tying in all of Craig’s Bond movies, manages to have the plot include a bit of a personal touch that lends itself well, but isn’t really allowed the impact of its reveal.

If this is Craig’s final film as the famous spy, then it would be a shame. Craig brings more seriousness to his role as Bond and sparks emotion with his eyes, barely managing to twitch a facial muscle most of the time. The overtly charming agent of the past is gone. Léa Seydoux, last seen in the critically-acclaimed Blue is the Warmest Color, is almost unrecognizable here, playing a character with just enough knowledge to defend herself, but not enough will to resist Bond (because he can apparently sweep a girl off her feet just by looking at her–a power every man secretly wishes he possessed).

Ben Whishaw is back as Q and thankfully has more screen time. He and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny add a bit of levity to the film and give you more upbeat moments that are very much needed throughout. Ralph Fiennes does a good job in taking over from Judi Dench, who will be missed. Fiennes is just as by-the-book, but still allows leeway for Bond’s theatrics and ability to never do as he’s told. Christoph Waltz, who always excels playing shady characters, is good but not as great as you’d expect for a role as important as his. Waltz’s character is central but the effects of his presence and the reveal are not as potent. Monica Belluci, who is wonderful in the few scenes she is in, isn’t given a large enough role and the tease of Bond finally being with a woman his own age is for naught.

The action, fight scenes, and the scenic settings are all executed without a hitch. The film will have you leaning forward at some point because it really draws you in. The cinematography is beautiful, crisp and bright, giving off the aura of class and style to the highest degree. The follow-up to the highly successful and emotionally dramatic Skyfall doesn’t slow down and returns Bond to past form. Spectre is part nostalgia, part forward movement as it pushes the Craig-era bond into its next chapter with a proper naturalness, but doesn’t reach the same height as Skyfall. Spectre can certainly be enjoyed on its own, but it does do a good job of tying together all the pieces left behind in the previous three films. An entertaining trip into the world of 007, even if it isn’t as good as its predecessor.

3.5star

 

Director: Sam Mendes | Screenwriters: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Monica Belluci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott | Genre: Action | MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and language

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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