By: Grant Vance ~Staff Writer~
Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” series had a large cinematic presence since its first film adaptation, “Dr. No,” in 1962 starring Sean Connery. Now 53 years, 24 films and six actors later, James Bond is one of the most iconic characters of all time. Last Friday marked the release of Bond’s 24th cinematic entry, “Spectre,” with the returning “Skyfall” powerhouse duo of director Sam Mendes and four-time Bond actor Daniel Craig. Though “Spectre” faces the challenge of following the financial and critical success of “Skyfall,” it still provides a fun, nostalgic entry into the long-running escapades of Britain’s very own 007.
“Spectre” opens in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead festival, following Bond in action, paced brilliantly by a stylish tracking shot. This opening sequence, familiar to the Bond formula of opening with an action set-piece used to establish the plot of the film, fulfills its purpose almost too well. Though advertising has essentially done this job already, this sequence establishes the success aspect of “Spectre” quite well. It is a stylish, entertaining action film with homage to nostalgic Bond villains and expansion of existing plotlines. Unfortunately, other themes of the film lack polish compared to these established standards.
Though there is a lot to love about “Spectre,” it is far from the follow-up to “Skyfall” for which audiences had been hoping. Very awkward and disjointed, “Spectre” feels more like a modern highlight reel than a true standalone film. From Bond’s two most iconic lines to countless other examples of homage, “Spectre” occasionally spends more time referencing itself as a Bond film than standing out as an individual.
Though one of the best ideas of the plot is its attempt to tie all of Craig’s films together in one cohesive story, by doing so, the exposition is shallow and without much background. If “Casino Royale” and other films better foreshadowed this connection this would have been a dynamic twist with several years of set up. Unfortunately, this connection feels forced, doing little more for the series than serving as a reminder of what made “Spectre’s” preceeding films so great.
Though it is far from perfect, “Spectre” is still an entertaining film, full of great action sequences and multiple nostalgic references. Although these aspects also hold it back by making it a somewhat contrived, episodic entry into the Bond anthology, “Spectre” provides enough to leave audiences wanting more Bond.