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‘Spectre’ Falls Short of ‘Skyfall’

Daniel Craig-Spectre-1a         Let’s face it,
Skyfall is a tough act to follow. The
most recent James Bond movie got everything right and ranks as one of the best
entries in the long history of 007. Spectre
has many enjoyable scenes and all the requisite ingredients for a Bond adventure,
but it goes on too long, drags in the middle, and offers a bizarre backstory
for our hero—and villain—at the very end.

         Things seem
off-kilter right at the outset. During a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico
City, James starts making love to a beautiful woman in a hotel room. He’s
forced to interrupt the tryst and tells the woman he’ll be right back—but never
returns. Yes, he gets involved in more crucial matters, as he’s drawn into a
major action set-piece, but still…  I
kept waiting for our hero to return to his paramour and utter a witty line.
Isn’t that what we expect from James Bond?

Christoph Waltz-Spectre-680

         The filmmakers
also keep us waiting an unconscionable amount of time to get to Bond’s showdown
with his latest adversary, played with customary panache by Christoph Waltz.
(He participates in one scene early on, then disappears.)

         Yet I don’t
think 007 fans will feel cheated, on the whole. Daniel Craig is in fine form,
and the action scenes are terrific, from a pulse-pounding car chase on the
streets of Rome to a series of brutal fights with a behemoth bad guy played by
wrestling star Dave Bautista. It’s fun to watch Bond’s interplay with Q, played
with tongue in cheek by Ben Whishaw, and Moneypenny, in the person of Naomie
Harris. The new M, Ralph Fiennes, is at loggerheads with his best-known agent
throughout this story, so that puts a damper on their scenes together.

Monica Belluci-Daniel Craig-Spectre

         As for the
latest “Bond girls,” James spends quality time with the widow of a notorious
criminal, played by the formidable Monica Bellucci, then becomes seriously
involved with the daughter of an old antagonist, played by beautiful Léa
Seydoux. She keeps up with Bond, step for step, and is the farthest thing from
a damsel in distress.

         Director Sam
Mendes maintains a light touch in the character scenes, leaving the heavy-duty
action to his second-unit director Alexander Witt and stunt coordinator Gary
Powell. But there may have been too many cooks in the kitchen for his
screenplay, even though they are all experienced hands: John Logan, Neil Purvis,
Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth. Someone should have suggested cutting at
least one sequence or tightening the finished script.

         Still, a
slick, well-produced James Bond outing is not to be dismissed. It’s certainly
better than Quantum of Solace and
wisely draws on familiar Bond mythology, just as composer Thomas Newman makes
repeated reference to John Barry’s 007 theme. Even medium-grade Bond is more
entertaining than most action fare, and that’s the case with Spectre.

7 comments

  1. MikeGarske says:

    "Specter falls short of Skyfall", well that’s too bad, because Skyfalls ridiculous meanderings sucked the big one.

  2. Lily says:

    Whoa! really. Maybe has to do with the Mexico parts of the movie.. I really did not see the connection to begin with since the movie previews… Oh well!

  3. Anthony Tollin says:

    As much as I like Daniel Craig as James Bond, I’m bothered that SPECTRE basically has the same plot as SKYFALL. I can’t understand why the same director would want to essentially retell the same story he so recently got right: villain wants to avenge his rejection by parent figure by destroying that parental unit and his favorite student. And as much as I like Christoph Waltz as an actor, his character and scenes were nowhere near as imposing and frightening as Javier Bardem’s were in SKYFALL, which was too noticeable considering the two arch villains had such similar back stories and motivations.

  4. Thomas says:

    Farthest thing from a damsel in distress? Really? It was a step up from most Bond girls, but there’s one development (you’ll know after watching) that certainly makes the word "farthest" utterly wrong.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Spectre’s lukewarm reception among critics is one of the more surprising developments of the movie season. Of course, when I found out the film’s very long running time I began to wonder myself.

  6. Albert says:

    Spectre adds nothing new compared to Skyfall but does everything better.

  7. Michael Gibson says:

    I enjoyed the movie but have come to realize that Moneypenny and Q need to be replaced. Neither are good enough actors to hold up their end of the deal in these movies. Waltz wasn’t on screen enough and his story and explanation of what he was doing and had been doing wasn’t believeable. Still, Bond is Bond. The helicopter fight scene was the first time I have ever gasped during a movie. That was impressive. Despite the weak acting by the secondary characters and the villians weird and confusing storyline, the action in the movie made up for those faults. I hope in the next bond that they have a new Q and a different Moneypenny. They also need to come up with a better overall story.

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