Spectre (2015)

I don't think I've made it a secret - I have very much enjoyed the recent Bond films. From Daniel Craig's introduction in Casino Royale to the not-quite-as-good (but still very good) Quantum of Solace to the overly complicated thrill ride of Skyfall, Bond maintains his signature caricatured villains with the Craig-era gritty action.

This is likely the last of the Daniel Craig Bond movies. I admit to having not looked forward to Daniel Craig when he was taking over. While the Brosnan movies had wandered off into complete lunacy, he (Brosnan) really struck me as the right style, look, and attitude for Bond. My experience with Craig was pretty limited, and I just didn't think he could carry it. I was flat-out wrong.

In this movie, we pick up where the last movie left off. Judi Dench is dead. But her legacy of the "00" section lives on for now. As with the previous movies, a lot of the intrigue of the movie is generated by internal UK intelligence structure changes and the power struggles within them. I can't say it's the most riveting way to generate intrigue in a Bond film, but they have had these in the past few films, and they manage to intersperse action and acting to keep it interesting.

Christoph Waltz plays our new bad guy. He is as close to the archetypal Bond villain as you can get. He's condescending, dismissive of Bond and the advice of his own people, has meetings in giant rooms with his multinational cohorts, draws out the killing of his enemies, and he even has a big, fluffy white cat to stroke. I have seen Christoph in a few other movies - most notably the fantastic job he did in both Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. In this movie, his part may actually be smaller overall, but he performs just as well.

If it was just a question of Daniel fighting Christoph, the movie would be pretty quick. So, they bring the large and generally silent Dave Bautista for some fisticuffs. Dave is probably best known for his performance as Drax in the wonderful Guardians of the Galaxy. Dave doesn't have to do much other than wear a finely tailored suit and hit people, so he fits the role well.

With all the goings on at headquarters, Bond needs to get clandestine support from Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw as the technical wizard, Q. Bond also gets grudging support from Ralph Fiennes as the replacement M. Working against him and seemingly dripping with evil is Andrew Scott as a new character "C." Andrew is not new to me, either; Andrew was (and might still be) Moriarty in the excellent British TV show Sherlock.

Don't you hate it when you accidentally drop a building on yourself?
No Bond film would be complete without a Bond Girl. I understand that there can actually be more than one Bond Girl in a movie, and the leading Bond Girl here is Léa Seydoux as a psychologist. I can totally buy her as a psychologist, unlike when Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough. Kind of tossed in there is the actress that was clearly employed simply to be a pair of breasts in the movie, Monica Bellucci.

Ultimately, this movie comes down the the action, the pacing, the story, the acting, and I guess all the things that a movie normally comes down to. I could have done with fewer gadgets, but that's Bond's hook, and I can't fall into the mistake of trying to compare this to things like the Bourne series that have certainly borrowed quite a bit from the Bond films, but the Bond films now take the best of Bourne and add to them.

Acting was very good
Action was spectacular
Story was interesting
Dialogue was good (although campy at times)
Pacing was very good

Bottom Line: If this is his last, Daniel Craig can be proud of it.



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