Let’s be honest: Spectre was never going to top Skyfall. Bond’s last entry (also directed by Sam Mendes) was a rare gem – the kind of film that received universal acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Nevertheless, Spectre is an admirable achievement and a worthy entry into the legendary series.
I do hope this is not Daniel Craig’s final turn as Bod (he’s been hinting recently that he wants to leave the series), because he still kicks ass as 007. Unlike a lot of movie stars today, you buy him in the role of a ruthless super-spy, and you believe it when he jumps across rooftops and obliterates everyone in sight. In fact, the film’s action is predictably outstanding – the opener in Mexico is gorgeously framed, the train fight is brutal in every way, and a car-chase throughout the streets of Rome is one of the most blood-pumping things ever caught on film.
Funnily enough, Monica Bellucci’s much-hyped appearance amounts to five minutes of screen time. I thought they had cast the stunning actress for a compelling role; after all, how often does Bond face off with a Bond Girl that’s actually his own age? Sadly, Bellucci is underused and her potential is completely wasted. Spectre’s official Bond girl is Lea Seyodux, and she’s definitely a potent force with a solid mix of vulnerability and fortitude. Her role fizzles out in the end, but at least the script doesn’t make her too much of a damsel in distress (although she still has to be saved countless times).
As entertaining as it is, Spectre is not perfect; Christoph Waltz tries his best, but I didn’t find his Big Bad role to be nearly as frightening as Javier Bardem’s in Skyfall. You never feel that he poses an actual physical threat to Bond (that honor belongs to WWE Wrestler Dave Bautista) and that robs the film of some urgency. In addition, while the film’s script ties the previous Craig adventures together with some clever continuity, the final 30 minutes come off as somewhat rushed and messy. Still, it’s not enough to take away from a tremendously thrilling ride.
While it might not reach the heights of Skyfall, Bond’s latest entry is still an exhilarating adventure that’s gripping from start to finish.