RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015 (2D theaters and IMAX)
STUDIO: Columbia Pictures (Sony), MGM
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
MPAA RATING: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and language)
SCREENWRITERS: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, Stephanie Sigman, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris
GENRE: Drama, Action, Adventure

Reviewed by David Dawson

SPECTRE… long-time fans of the Bond franchise have been awaiting the return of the shadowy organization for years. In Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 he comes face to face with the evil organization headed up by one of Bond’s most iconic villains, Blofeld (Cristoph Waltz).

Fans of SKYFALL will most likely enjoy this second Sam Mendes helmed Bond. His penchant for beautiful visuals and drama are on full display in SPECTRE. His command of directing action has matured as well. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Mexico City during Dia De Los Muertos, the opening action set piece is one of the franchise’s most exhilarating and could be the best opening of any Bond film. There is also a fantastic car chase in the middle of the film that is framed by a very calm Bond carrying a phone conversation while careening through the streets of Rome.

The true shortcoming of this film lies with the script. At times blistering with pace and at others woefully dull the story suffers from several things. The first is the ghost of Jason Bourne. Since the ‘reboot’ of Bond with Casino Royale the gritty realism of the Bourne franchise’s success has left its mark on the new Bond. This has worked reasonably well, overall, but with each successive outing the films have began to suffer because of the second problem. The ghosts of previous Bonds. By rooting Bond in the ‘real world’ it has become increasingly difficult to create the larger than life Bond villains of old in a credible way. By telling the viewer that they should not have to suspend disbelief because Bond is a ‘real guy’ it makes believing in a supervillain like Blofeld, with his intricate network of worldwide bad guys, his evil hidden lair in a desert crater and his penchant for far too elaborate forms of torture, much harder to swallow. And the final problem… giving Bond an elaborate backstory. Bond doesn’t need one, but we are force fed a tearful story of Bond’s orphaned childhood, which began in SKYFALL, and now there is an added tragedy of losing his adopted family as well. Gone is the mystery of who Bond is. He is now just another man with problems. A man who is like you and me, grappling with the demons of his past. This works with Jason Bourne whose entire story is built around the character searching out the truth about his past, but it doesn’t work for Bond. Bond’s charm, his swagger, his very appeal comes from the mystery of the spy. He’s a blank slate. He is a man who can walk into any situation, infiltrate any organization, and do it all while telling everyone his actual name. He is a myth. SPECTRE, while a reasonably enjoyable spy film, fails to deliver as a solid Bond film by trying to serve too many masters.