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The Spectre of a Franchise

(Spectre Review)

Prior to the release of the latest James Bond installment, Daniel Craig said that he would “rather slash my wrists” than reprise the role another time, so it’s quite possible that this may the last go around for the current incarnation of Bond. Perhaps that’s the reason this last film had a major case of senioritis.

The story revolves around Bond connecting all his previous adversaries to a mysterious organization led by an elusive and seemingly all-powerful leader. His quest to locate and confront this modern Moriarty also ties into a subplot involving increased worldwide mass surveillance led by a British government technocrat.

Throughout the adventure, Bond and Spectre appeared at times bi-polar—unable to decide whether they was a cheeky throwback of Bonds past or the brooding version Craig is known for. Craig lacks the charm to pull of the levity of Pierce Brosnan so when he delivered a double entendre that would have felt organic to Sean Connery, it felt forced from Craig. And while there were a number of humorous moments, Bond lacked that ever-present smirk that he had before Craig. A smirk that told us that perhaps he was in on the ludicrous suspension of disbelief required thereby making it acceptable.

One character that carried an ironic smile throughout Spectre was Mr. Hinx played by Dave Batista. He was a lot more charismatic than Bond and was a definite call back to mid-level villains of the franchise. When I noticed myself rooting for him, I knew something was off.

Mr._Hinx

There are also lots of setups that were never paid off. Hinx kills his first victim by gouging his eyes out with his massive silver painted thumbs. You’d think we’d see that nail polish again, but we never do. Likewise, after Bond spends the majority of the film tracking down the evil mastermind to find out why he’s doing what he’s doing, we never actually learn anything besides that he’s a psychopath who killed his father.

The film tries to get serious by dealing with the theme of mass government surveillance. But aside from arguing that it’s a bad idea, Spectre never really makes a case for why that is except that it can be used for nefarious reasons by the wrong people. That, however, can be said about anything.

The film had enough decent action sequences that justify a viewing. Plus its half-hearted attempt to tie all the previous Craig storylines together is somewhat satisfying. And one won’t be let down by a wonderful supporting cast of Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, and Batista. However, if you want to see a better Bond that takes place in an alpine fortress, check out the much underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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