Spectre: Messy, Long and Boring Cover Up the Fun.

Spectre - IMDBCinematic Law: long and anxiously awaited sequels typically disappoint. Often catastrophically. While not every sequel is a plunge into the abyss (T2, Aliens are just two superiors films), these are often exceptions that prove the rule.

Spectre, while technically the fourth installment of the Daniel Craig Bond franchise, is often considered as the sequel to the mega-hit Skyfall, the final act to director Sam Mendes’ Bond Oeuvre. Viewed in this light, our mentioned cinematic law remains firmly intact.

Premise: Bond is on a trail to uncover a sinister organization at the heart of all his woes. Result: Disappointing.

Spectre finds Bond (Daniel Craig) -some time after M’s (Judi Dench) death- in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, stalking a villain of some sort. A minor chase then ends with a thrilling helicopter battle above the crowded Zocalo resulting in the death of said villain.

M, from the grave, had sent Bond a message, to take mystery villain out and watch at his funeral. New M aka Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) is furious because of a predictable side plot where C aka Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of a merged British Intelligence, is just looking for a reason to shut down the 00 program (something that appears to be happening always in this new Craig-Bond era). Bond cares little for this side show and does what he wishes anyway, stalking his way through Europe and North Africa to uncover a secret that will destabilize him.

His efforts uncover a panoply of villains and former villains and villain-adjacents:  first, there is Franz Uberhauser aka Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) who is the ring leader of all evil in the world; there is a Jaws-like villain in Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) with whom there is a wonderfully crafted train-battle; then there is a revisit to Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) for no real reason other than to introduce the equally dull Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), a name chosen by someone running from something but who clearly wants everyone to still pay close attention.

How much of the film felt.

How much of the film felt.

Ultimately, Spectre is disappointing, slow and much too long. For the most part it is not a bad film certainly, with some good fight sequences, some thrills and strong actors; but it doesn’t approximate Skyfall or Casino Royale by any means. Instead, audiences will sit and watch a messy, dull attempt to explain the full Bond story and in so doing destroy anything that made it interesting.

And this is, in short, its greatest issue: the film attempts to bring an arc to closure but entirely in hindsight, drawing connections that were never there, fumbling in the cinematic dark for depth and purpose. The result is unsatisfying for the most part, with a final act that has Bond reach unacceptably super-human levels in such a muddled set of sequences that they could hardly have been any more than a first draft written by grade-schoolers.

The performances were understated and underwhelming. By the end, even Craig seems exhausted by the whole thing and Seydoux fares little better. Waltz appears restrained by the film, somehow not at all delivering on perfect casting; like Spacey’s soporific performance of Lex Luther in Superman Returns, Waltz, virtually perfect in everything else, appears more interested in a nap than in his character.

And that was the main plot – the rest of the film has Fiennes, Naomie Harris (Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q), and Rory Kinnear (Tanner) fumbling through a sub-plot that makes them all look like wayward sidekicks coming late to the film. No thanks.

In the end, Spectre needed way more revision and review. Mendes’ anxiety in making this second Bond film was apparently spot on. While there are certainly some good points to this film and it is after all, still a Bond film of high caliber, it is largely miss-able and better a dream than a reality.

Rating: 6 – A mediocre Prosecco that a cute bartender served you

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