The much anticipated new James Bond movie, Spectre, had a hard act to follow after Skyfall, which set the bar so high the next in the franchise would almost inevitably fall short. Spectre is good, and compared with some of the later Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan outings it’s a masterpiece. But Director Sam Mendes went for a less oppressive tone this time, and the films ends up missing the brooding menace of Skyfall but doesn’t make up for it with sufficient dynamism or spectacle.
I think part of the problem is Christoph Waltz as the chief villain. I liked Christoph Waltz and his sardonic delivery in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, and he’s back doing that here, but he doesn’t have the weight to feel like a genuine threat. It’s just difficult to see him as a worldwide criminal mastermind.
Daniel Craig is as good as ever as Bond – he’s the Bond for our times and, if this really is his last outing in the role, whoever replaces him has got a job on his hands. And if this is also Sam Mendes’ last Bond movie, the next director had better be planning already a shot of the next actor as impressive as that first sight of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.
The opening sequence is a stunning continuous tracking shot through a teeming Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, one of those “how does he do that?” moments by the director (actually, here’s how, but don’t read before seeing the film). But the subsequent punch-up in a helicopter went on too long, and had some dodgy green-screen work (maybe it was the IMAX presentation that showed it up).
There are great action moments throughout, Lêa Seydoux is a Bond Girl” of the modern style – clever, intriguing, complex – so unlike the ones from the Connery or Moore eras, and there’s a lot of fun to be had throughout the film.
All in all, it was good but not great. We’ll miss Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig if this is their final Bond movie – Skyfall was one of the greats. But it may be time for another reboot.