Caught up in the fantastical world of wonderfully coiffed suits, black-on-white and white-on-black, mysterious women in silky, floor length gowns and precariously fast sports cars, director Sam Mendes presents a reality audiences have become all too transfixed with. At the center of it all, the iconic image, James Bond, lives on in the fourth installment of the James Bond series, “Spectre,” starring Daniel Craig. His portrayal of the unbelievably coy and brooding character, at the prime of his profession, ran counter to the aging and lethargic Bond in “Skyfall,” and luckily so. As a man who likes his drinks “shaken, not stirred” and always finds himself entrenched in the most perilous of situations, “Spectre,” though not a much-needed finale, still finds a way to thrill and excite.
“Spectre,” which was released last Friday, Nov. 6, is successful in its heavy reliance on the legacy of James Bond. Considering the countless number of films that have come out over the years, with actors like Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, the finale’s interest in its predecessors adds some depth to the plot. The basic premise of the film follows that Bond, upon receiving a message in reference to his past, seeks to reveal the the ominous inner workings of the organization Spectre. Though M makes a multitude of attempts to protect the secret service, her efforts are thwarted when James Bond unveils Spectre’s secrets, in all of their horrifying veracity. Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci) first tips Bond onto Spectre after their steamy coupling, whereafter he discovers that Spectre is led by Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), a mystery man from Bond’s past. With a remarkably even tone, Oberhauser delivers the chilling words: “You came across me so many times, yet you never saw me.”
Under Sam Mendes’ artistic vision, “Spectre” is a marvelous spectacle of visionary achievement that underlines the director’s understanding that good storytelling relies heavily on aesthetically pleasing visuals. It definitely doesn’t hurt to bombard the viewer with a glamorous aesthetic; it makes it easier to buy into the romanticized, sensational world of James Bond. As is typical of most James Bond movies, the legendary spy hopped from location to location—from the Austrian mountain range to the streets of Morocco to high-end, luxurious mansions in Italy, and even Mexico City—there’s no place that is too far for James Bond to travel, no place out of reach for filmmakers to film.
Though this film is a definite improvement on the last one of the Bond series, there were some glaring problems and inconsistencies that the screenwriters should have contemplated further. An undeniably thrilling and visually captivating film, “Spectre” fails in its inability to expand beyond the bounds of its own genre. The predictability of the movie markedly marrs its attempts to interest the viewer. “Spectre” becomes horribly pinned down with the typical motions, in a sense giving into a mindlessness instead of seeking innovation and intrigue. The audience has become all too familiar with the Bond formula for blockbuster success: James Bond has sex with the outstandingly beautiful and seductive dame, a master villain looms and threatens from afar, and at the heart of it is a sinister plan that Bond will all too easily outmaneuver.
In all of its two-and-a-half hour glory, “Spectre” is a fitting end to yet another chapter in the James Bond legacy. With a solid Rotten Tomatoes score rating of 64 percent, there are far more reasons to splurge a little and view the finale than not, if not in part to say a final adieu to Daniel Craig. The actor has publicly stated that “Spectre” is his last James Bond film, and as the most memorable Bond yet, there’s more than enough reason to head to the movie theater. If his statement proves true, the next actor cast as James Bond has quite a lot to live up to, if he intends on outperforming Daniel Craig.