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Movie Review: Spectre
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

Spectre
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Jesper Christensen, Rory Kinnear
Columbia Pictures | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 148 Minutes
Release Date: November 6, 2015

Directed by Sam Mendes (Skyfall), Spectre is the 24th film in the James Bond franchise, and the fourth to start Daniel Craig as Agent 007.

A cryptic message sends Bond to Mexico City during Día de Muertos in pursuit of Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremon), a criminal with ties to the sinister organization known as SPECTRE. After dispatching his target, Bond heads to Rome to attend the funeral, where he meets the dead man’s widow, Lucia (Monica Bellucci). Of course, because this is a Bond film, they have sex and she gives him all the information he needs to pursue SPECTRE.

Back in London, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the newly appointed M, faces political pressures that threaten the future of MI6 and the double-O program. After Bond’s excursion in Mexico, Head of the Centre for National Security Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott) believes the spy agency should be phased out and replaced by high-tech surveillance network.

In a scene straight out of Eyes Wide Shut, Bond infiltrates a secret SPECTRE meeting where he comes face-to-face with the film’s villains: the enigmatic Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) and his henchman Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista). After a few perfunctory car chases and action sequences, Bond enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) in seeking out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold a clue to uncovering the secret at the heart of SPECTRE.

2006’s Casino Royale resurrected Bond with a Batman Begins-esque origin story that showed the agent earning his 00 status. The follow-up, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, was a victim of the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike that delivered spectacle but little story. With Sam Mendes’ 2012 entry, Skyfall, Craig’s Bond became the Bond we’ve all been waiting for.

But here, in Spectre, Mendes and his gaggle of writers decide to strip the super-spy bare once again, making him a man on the run – much like Mission: Impossible‘s Ethan Hunt. After three movies of grounding 007 in gritty realism and separating from the Bond formula, Spectre shoehorns Craig into the silliest, most formulaic Bond movie since the Pierce Brosnan era.

After the film’s promising opening sequence, Spectre becomes a jumbled mess of clichés and banal dialogue, with a mind-numbing twist so dumb that it destroys all the goodwill created by Casino Royale and Skyfall. These films have always been cinematic Mad Libs – change up the car, the gadgets, the exotic locales, the girl, and the villain, and you’ve got 24 variants of the same movie – but Spectre‘s scripting is so dense, I’m convinced Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci did a pass on the screenplay.

Throughout the film’s 148-minute runtime, I thought about walking out. Instead, I stayed for the film’s entire duration and was punished several times over for it. From the one-note characters and stock action sequences to the obvious reveal and flaccid ending, Spectre is tedious in every sense of the word. The film’s only redeeming value is Bautista’s Mr. Hinx, a goon with metal thumbnails that crushes your skull while stabbing out your eyes. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good description of how it feels to watch Spectre.

In comparison to this year’s other espionage offerings – Spy, Kingsman, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Spectre comes in dead-last. Sadly, it might be time for James Bond to retire – or at least take a very long, well-deserved vacation. Unfortunately, Spectre ends with the promise of more movies, making me wonder if James Bond should’ve done a better job at saving for retirement instead of working years past his prime.

Trailer

PS: It’s obvious watching this film that the only person enjoying Spectre less than me is Daniel Craig. Can someone get that man a puppy or some street tacos or something? Poor guy.

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