“Spectre” has all the essentials of a James Bond movie: explosive action, hidden gadgets, Aston Martins and beautiful women. In fact, the movie seems to have the Bond formula down to a science. Yet, for all the iconic moments, the 24th film in the Bond franchise feels like just that: another addition to a long line of movies with little to separate it from the rest of the pack. All the while, it feels like something is missing from the experience. Or maybe I just had one too many martinis: shaken, not stirred.
The film follows Agent oo7, the British spy with a license to kill, as he travels the world in search of a criminal organization threatening the existence of the British Secret Service. Along the way, he gets in a couple of high-speed chases, fights a massive henchman and stops to engage in one or two romantic relationships before continuing on to the next exotic location.
“Spectre” promises to revive Bond’s nemesis from the classic novels for an epic rivalry surpassing the scope of the previous films. However, what results is a rather underwhelming battle with a smiley villain whose biggest crime is the political debate he tries to spark on privacy rights and surveillance.
All this aside, “Spectre” is massively entertaining when separated from the inherent Bond film clichés. From an intense car chase through the streets of Rome to an edge-of-your-seat fistfight within a spinning helicopter, the film never fails to satisfy one’s craving for action.
But when compared to previous Bond films, particularly critically-acclaimed “Skyfall,” “Spectre” fails to stand out. Of course, making an original and plausible film that lives up to 23 previous films in the same series is not exactly a walk in the park.
Every film in the Bond series is governed by a necessary sense of nostalgia for the classic stories of Britain’s most famous secret agent. Yet to achieve that nostalgia while creating a fresh story that avoids cliché and is unique in its own right is a feat of filmmaking that few Bond films have been able to achieve.
Unfortunately, this is exactly where “Spectre” falls short. It seems that James Bond has lost a bit of the element of surprise. The most unpredictable moment in the film was his choice of a dirty martini over the famous “shaken, not stirred.”
A swarm of rumors surround a recasting of the iconic character, speculating that perhaps a new face and a more unified film universe with an overarching storyline would reinvigorate the series.
Although I am not convinced that so drastic a change is necessary, questions remain as to whether “Spectre” has sown the seeds for this kind of change. If so, the result was less than impressive. At any rate, a somewhat lackluster excursion notwithstanding, James Bond never loses his ability to entertain.
“Spectre” is directed by Sam Mendes and stars Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux and Ralph Fiennes.