A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.
Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond's actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot.
As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.
After nine years of seemingly trying to shed its well-worn formula, the 007 series has (for better or worse) returned to what made it a cultural benchmark in the first place. It seems to be a return to its roots on many levels, here. Yes, this is the latest Bond flick, that is a sequel to the series of Daniel Craig-led action that reinvented (and sometimes reinvigorated) the Brit's best-known spy. It seems to try mixing a gritty reboot of the Bond series, with what could be considered, your father's Bond. So, be prepared for a lot of throwbacks and “retro-Bond” references.
As with the other recent entries starring Daniel Craig, "Spectre" doesn't start from scratch. It begins where "Skyfall" left off. To fight through the death of his beloved M (Judi Dench), Bond (Craig) does what Bond does best: He goes on a mission in a foreign land. In this iteration’s thrilling opening minutes, he goes on a chase through a “Dia de los Muertos” [Day of the Dead] parade in Mexico City. The sequence is a visually stunning continuous take that is theming with eye-popping energy and color. It is definitely a Bond scene intro to remember.
Storywise, "Spectre" a little more streamlined than the past two iterations. Though it feels as if Craig and director Sam Mendes made exactly the Bond film they wanted to follow up to 2012’s "Skyfall." Meanwhile, it’s nice to see that Hollywood is realizing that not every franchise has to try to become a darker version of itself to survive. This was certainly highlighted with what seems a little odd where this latest release allows Bond to end on such a light note (no spoiler here). Its 150-minute run time surprisingly rarely drags or slows, but the story still could have been focused and tightened in the area of the villain(s) and climax. I certainly was very much unimpressed with the Sam Smith cover song which was like listening to someone scratching their fingernails on a chalk board for about 5 minutes. I would possible rate this as the most awful Bond song to date. Thankfully it only played in the intro.
In any event, I screened this latest Sam Mendez effort with a tab bit of skepticism whilst hoping for something more surprising than its predecessor. What I walked out with is an extremely entertaining entry of the 007 franchise series. Certainly "Spectre" satisfies the die-hard Bond-heads, but I do hope (with the rumors of Craig possibly not returning) that whomever takes the reins of the next Bond movie finds yet another way to reinvent the spy we have been reintroduced to so many times over the past several decades. With that, I would say this latest Bond deserves four out of five stars for meeting the series’ expectations and is well worth the theater visit with popcorn in tow.
By Movi-Man Stan
MOVIE REVIEWS >>>
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis
Genre: Action Adventure
Duration: 2hr 28mins
Starring: Daniel Craig
Producer: Barbara Broccoli
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of
action and violence, some disturbing
images, sensuality and language
Release Date: November 6, 2015