Film Review: ‘Spectre’

After the events of Skyfall, James Bond is back and looking to find answers to the questions of his past. The real question is, will it be enough to hold over audiences?

Whenever a new James Bond film is being released, it’s not just a regular generic movie being released; It’s an event. There’s no denying that regardless of the actual quality of the film, any movie labeled 007 will bring in all audiences. Now, to calm you all, this isn’t some sort of prologue that’ll go on and say, “Spectre is a bad movie but at least it’ll make money!” Spectre is an okay movie. It’s enjoyable and full of action, suspense, drama…all the things you could want from a Bond movie. And yet…something was missing. Maybe missing is the wrong word, but it felt like for the first time in the Daniel Craig era, Bond was predictable and cliche. Sam Mendes may have been the director for the hugely successful Skyfall, but it seems like he missed the mark a bit for Spectre.

Starting off in Mexico, Bond (Daniel Craig) is on an unofficial mission to kill a man, Marco Sciarra, who plans on blowing up a stadium full of people. Bond is able to kill two of Sciarra’s men when he accidentally shoots an explosive in the building, but Sciarra is able to avoid the blast. Sciarra leads Bond on a chase through the streets of Mexico, celebrating the Day of the Dead. After creating destruction and mayhem in Mexico and killing Sciarra, Bond returns to London only to be grounded by M (Ralph Fiennes), whose job is difficult enough as it is without Bond mucking things up. Max Denbigh, or codename C (Andrew Scott), is looking to shut down the ‘00’ section while trying to create the largest intelligence system in the world called “Nine Eyes.” To put it simply, C wants to combine the intelligence forces of nine countries into a joint system.

Of course, Bond doesn’t listen to M’s orders and goes on to Rome to attend the funeral of Sciarra. While in Rome, he visits the home of Sciarra and prevents his widow, Lucia (Monica Belluci), from being assassinated. Lucia tells Bond that her husband was part of an organization and that they were meeting during the night. Bond gets into the meeting using the ring he had stolen previously from Sciarra and stands in, listening to the group talk about some of the acts of terrorism they’ve committed. Just then, the head of the organization walks in and talks about the events that took place in Mexico. At that moment, the head goes on to acknowledge Bond’s presence in the room which forces Bond to flee from the group’s assassin, Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista). Taking him on a car chase through the streets of Rome, Bond eventually escapes with the goal of finding the man that the organization wants killed: The Pale King. From here, Bond’s journey is just getting started.

I can’t really put my finger on what exactly felt off in Spectre. The performances were exceptional and in a year where women are dominating on the big screen, Lea Seydoux continues this trend. At least temporarily. She shows she can handle herself when the moment calls for it…and then ends up in bed with Bond right away.Then there’s Christoph Waltz as the villain. He’s probably the best actor to go to when you want a villain who is toned down and subtle in his actions and mannerisms. And he plays the part perfectly. It seems like it stems down to the screenplay. It felt like things were hurried and certain story elements just felt incomplete. That, or it was a conscious decision on the writer’s part to make Spectre feel different than any previous Bond film. That’s the most I can get into without outright spoiling the movie. The first scene of the movie in Mexico is truly extraordinary and shows what Spectre could be, but it’s just not able follow suit and the rest of the movie stumbles.

When it comes down to it, Spectre is somehow the third best Bond film of the Daniel Craig era. And while it is still a lot better than Quantum of Solace, it just doesn’t compare all that well to Casino Royale and Skyfall. Skyfall was the perfect blend of action and storytelling and Casino Royale did an incredible job of reviving the character and creating the most tense and suspenseful Bond film yet. Fans of the franchise will end up enjoying the film to some degree, but it became a bit too reliant on the 007 formula and just doesn’t bring in anything new or fresh. I guess it’s basically the Star Trek Into Darkness of the 007 franchise…while both are good movies in their own right with enough for audiences to enjoy them, it just feels like those involved with the movies couldn’t come up with something new. To put it simply: if Spectre wasn’t a franchise film and just an original spy/action film, I don’t think it would do nearly as well with audiences as it’s going to.

Spectre is directed by Sam Mendes, written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth, and stars Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Belluci, and Ralph Fiennes. Spectre will be in theaters November 6, 2015.

Belvedere Vodka celebrated its partnership with SPECTRE with an exclusive pre-release screening at LA’s ArcLight Hollywood Theatre followed by an after party at The Warwick. Bond girl and campaign ambassador Stephanie Sigman was in attendance.

How to make the SPECTRE martini
 
BELVEDERE SPECTRE 007 MARTINI
60ml (2oz) Belvedere Vodka
10ml (1/3oz) Dry vermouth
1 Sicilian green olive
5ml (1/6oz) Sicilian green olive brine
 
Directions: Gently muddle olives in base of mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients and shake hard with ice. Double strain into a chilled martini glass

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