DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SPECTRE (director: Sam Mendes; screenwriters: Ian Fleming/John Logan/Neal Purvis/Robert Wade; cinematographer: Hoyte Van Hoytema; editor: Lee Smith; music:  Thomas Newman; cast: Daniel Craig (James Bond), Christoph Waltz (Oberhauser), Lea Seydoux (Madeleine Swann), Ralph Fiennes (M), Monica Bellucci (Lucia), Ben Whishaw (Q), Naomie Harris (Moneypenny), Dave Bautista (Hinx), Andrew Scott (C), Rory Kinnear (Tanner), Jesper Christensen (Mr. White), Alessandro Cremona (Marco Sciarra), Stephanie Sigman (Estrella); Runtime: 148; MPAA Rating: PG_13; producers: Michael G. Wilson/Barbara Broccoli; Sony; 2015-UK/USA)

"The franchise is still doing well after 53 years of following the same formula."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The 24th or so Bond makes for passable entertainment. Director Sam Mendes ("Netherland"/"Road to Perdition"/"American Beauty") and writers John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade take us on a wild escapist globe-trotting joyride through places like Mexico City, London, Rome, Austria and Tangiers. Spectre is the less than gold-standard sequel to the ultra-smart "Skyfall," also directed by Mendes. The mega-budgeted action pic has the usual Bond signature moves of adventure, quips, great location shots, beautiful women, powerful combative sinister secret organizations, daring car chases, death-like fights, assassinations, high-tech gadgetry and an urgency for our superhero to save the world. The franchise is still doing well after 53 years of following the same formula.

It opens with a stunning action-packed set piece of Bond (Daniel Craig), in a long tracking shot, taking down with explosives a terrorist group in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead festivities. Back in London, 007 's  grounded by the new M (Ralph Fiennes) for going solo without the agency's consent. There's also an unpopular merger arranged by Brit Intelligence that has the double-o program about to be eliminated by the agency's new arrogant boss, C (Andrew Scott). He favors a more updated worldwide surveillance system that collects data on everyone in the world--including its own operatives (think Orwell's 1984). Though grounded Bond connives with Q (Ben Whisaw), his agency's resource techie man, to get some handy gadgets, as he goes to Rome to track a shadowy terrorist group connected with the Mexico City shoot-out. After an uninspired romance with the wife (Monica Bellucci) of the assassin he just killed and an outrageously unbelievable shoot-out in Rome, Bond pursues in Austria's Alps a shadowy operator, known as the Pale King (Jesper Christensen). The one-time assassin for SPECTRE disobeyed them and is in hiding.

The mid-section becomes overlong and largely a bore, as Bond goes through a number of procedural tracking efforts and locates in an ultra-modern clinic for help Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), a psychologist and the Pale King's daughter. The smart beauty becomes his love interest and reluctant helper. Bond goes with her on a train in Morocco to find the secret place SPECTRE operates from, but must fight for his life with the hulking assassin (Dave Bautista) before reaching SPECTRE's headquarters. Bond now learns that the head of the shadowy terrorist organization is Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). He's a sinister figure from Bond's childhood. Bond also learns by the final act that the unlikable C is a dangerous psychopath, who is trying to dismantle his democratic country's freedoms in the guise of fighting terrorism.

Craig, who played Bond in Casino Royale,”  “Quantum of Solace” and “Skyfall,” wants this to be his last Bond film.

This Bond venture fails to sparkle. It was too dour and even for a Bond film, its blend of playfulness and action, lacked enough realism to make it credible and also lacked the necessary magic to make it something special in the Bond opus.

REVIEWED ON 11/7/2015       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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