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    Spectre (2015): Movie Review

    "A disappointing follow-up to smash hit Skyfall.” 

    Daniel Craig returns for his fourth James Bond outing in Spectre, the 24th instalment in the official 007 canon. Sam Mendes also returns to direct the film which is rumoured to be worth $250 million. Spectre picks up the story right after the events of 2012’s blockbuster Skyfall. 

    Pre-credits sequence shows Bond combing through downtown Mexico City during the festivity of the Day of the Dead. Bond’s chase after Italian mafioso Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) involves massive explosions, architectural carnage and an adrenaline-rush physical combat inside a helicopter. Sciarra ends up dead but the agent manages to secure his opponent’s ring, engraved with an important emblem.

    Consequently, Bond is grounded by his bosses for the unauthorized operation. Because of a video-recorded warning by his old boss M (Judi Dench) right before her death, he defies their orders and races to Rome where he makes contact with Sciarra’s widow Lucia (Monica Bellucci) and to the Austrian Alps to team up with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), a young doctor who knows something about Spectre, an omnipotent criminal cartel masterminded by Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), a shadowy character from Bond’s past. Back in London, new M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) are also playing a deadly game against a ruthless government official named C (Andrew Scott) who plans to shut down the 00 agent program and replace it with his own nefarious high-tech surveillance system. 

    Skyfall is a game-changer in the Bond franchise. Instead of relying solely on ever-escalating action sequences, it was deliberately contemplative, adding psychological depths to the assassin’s character and offering solid back story about him. It was effective and continuing the story would be a tough call. Spectre seems to have struggled achieving expectations after Skyfall. Yes, it delves deeper into Bond’s back story, opening up old wounds and family grudges. It also clearly references events and characters from all three Craig’s Bond movies. However, the film in general seems too tired and uninspired that it falls back on clich├ęs and standards.

    At 148 minutes, the movie is one of the longest 007 features. The first act is dark and promising as Bond cautiously explores the menacing criminal organization. As it slowly progresses into the second half, the film becomes bloated and cluttered with its abundance of plot twists and archetypal characters. Motivations never manage to be concrete or convincing enough to make subsequent acts plausible.

    Craig’s 007 film are always grand and impressive. Spectre is not an exception. Sets and designs are tasteful, springing Rome, the Austrian Alps and the Moroccan dessert with so much life and vibrancy. Action sequences involving high-speed chase on the roads, rivers and snowy slopes always deliver the goods. The Mexico scene is perhaps the best with its memorable crumbling building and fisticuffs inside a spinning helicopter.

    Craig, with his crop hair, icy stare and chiselled physicality, is one of the most suitable embodiments of James Bond. He is a chick magnet without acting the part and a narcissistic sociopath with an eerie sense of loyalty and commitment. The problem is that he is over-serious and possesses neither humor nor warmth. Two-time winner Austrian Waltz gives Oberhauser a delightful type of evil and mischief. Yet, his character is underdeveloped that neither his enduring grudge against Bond nor his hunger for power is believable enough. 

    Spectre is a lesser film than Skyfall, slightly disappointing with its unripe characterization and exhausted screenplay. While the previous instalment ups the Bond drama, the present feature steps back for some serious rebuilding. 

    Production companies: EON Productions, B24, Danjaq, Columbia Pictures, MGM 
    Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Alessandro Cremona, Stephanie Sigman 
    Director: Sam Mendes 
    Producers: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli 
    Executive producers: Callum McDougall 
    Co-producers: Daniel Craig, Andrew Noakes, David Pope. 
    Screenwriters: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth 
    Cinematographer: Hoyte Van Hoytema 
    Editor: Lee Smith 
    Music: Thomas Newman 
    Production designer: Dennis Gassner 
    Costume designer: Jany Temime 
    Special effects supervisor: Chris Corbould


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