review//SPECTRE

Grade: B-

SPECTRE
Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux

As the newest endeavor in the long legacy that is the James Bond franchise, Spectre aligns itself as an exciting summer-like blockbuster with a tendency towards smart dialogue without ever reaching the some of the heights of its predecessors, particularly that of 2012's Skyfall. Directed by the acclaimed Sam Mendes, Spectre isn't Bond's worst outing, but too many outlandish plot devices keeps it from being its best.

MI6 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) receives a cryptic message that leads him on a wild goose chase around the world. Sound familiar? Starting out in Mexico City, Bond runs, jumps, shoots, and flies out of harms way, while killing and/or capturing a few baddies along the way. The British secret service isn't crazy about his wild antics, be they good or not. Suffering with an image problem, and fighting to stay relevant amidst the onset of SPECTRE, a new intelligence security firm, MI6 asks Bond to take a stay of absence, rather than get things heating up. Of course, though, once Bond has a hunch, he must act. Before long, Bond and his newest femme, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), begin their own wild goose chase, running into a deliciously evil bad guy, with a surprisingly related past.

The action is supreme, with the opening tracking shot of Bond traipsing through a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City being the major highlight. Ever debonair, one of the classic elements of a James Bond film must be the character's ability to fight evil while still looking good.

Craig, doing many of his own stunts, makes for a great Bond. He carries himself in a way that eludes class and badass. A flicker of grandiose in his eyes makes every lady fall for him and every gentleman want to leave the theater as him.

The pieces that make up Spectre are hints of perfection in many regards. It's how they're pieced together that leaves it feeling overlong and somewhat flat. As the evil genius, Christoph Waltz plays his bad guy just the way we like it. And, while that makes for great entertainment, it's nothing fresh or new. As the Bond girls, Seydoux is young and cleverly talented, and Monica Bellucci is brilliant, but doesn't get enough screen time. As the cinematographer, Hoyte van Hoytema gives Spectre a certain panache, but lacks the visual expertise of the great Roger Deakins before him.

Where Skyfall soared, Spectre can't seem to completely get off the ground. It's a fun ride, but you'll start looking at your watch way before you get to the end credits. Hopefully, for the next outing, instead of taking all of the good parts of Bond films and splicing them together, Mendes, or the future director, decides to build something more original...or as original as you can be with a character that's been living this long.

Also, how does he keep his suits looking so great and his hair in perfect place?

Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 148 minutes

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