by Alan Yudman
If this is the end of this quadrilogy of James Bond movies, SPECTRE certainly wraps up the storyline quite nicely. This film builds on the narrative that intelligence gathering has changed and agents like James Bond are a thing of the past. In this case, a new global intelligence apparatus is about to go online. The Double-O’s and MI-6 are about to become obsolete. Oh, and Bond is going rogue again. He’s in Mexico City to stop a terrorist bombing plot, but apparently there on his own, without the sanction of the British government. Bond discovers a ring with an octopus-like logo on it and heads back to London to chase down leads and get a stern talking to from “M”. Then he’s off again hopping the globe in search of this mysterious organization, all without orders or the backing of MI-6. He meets beautiful women, fights bad guys, gets involved in outrageous car chases (at least director Sam Mendes gave a little extra screen time and advertising fodder for Aston Martin’s new DB-10) and wreaks mayhem everywhere he goes. Hey, it’s a Bond movie. What else did you expect? The film has humor and a cloud of darkness hanging over Daniel Craig’s Bond that we have seen in the previous three movies. He’s fighting bad guys and his demons. The bad guys are typically over the top bad. Christoph Waltz is the biggest baddie and as he puts it the “author of all your pain”. We find out he is the head of SPECTRE and is responsible for all the evil and heartbreak throughout James’ life. Dave Bautista is a “Jaws”-like enforcer, but his metal appendages aren’t on his teeth, they are on his thumbs (don’t ask). The more subtle bad guy is played by Andrew Scott (Moriarty from SHERLOCK). He’s the head of the new British Joint Intelligence Service and a secret disciple of Waltz’s bad guy. Lea Seydoux is the woman who needs saving, or is it her who saves James? The set pieces are wonderful and the beautiful locales and action set pieces keep SPECTRE from ever being boring or slow. But, the story feels kind of been there, done that. Bond is troubled, he is dealing with past demons, blah blah blah. I thought we resolved most of this in SKYFALL? Apparently not. Bond seems less troubled by his past than he ever has so some of Waltz’s villainy falls flat from a motivational standpoint. Here’s the rub. Are you really going to see a Bond movie for heavy plotting and redemption stories? Probably not. You’re going for chases, fights, bad guys and beautiful girls. And to see James overcome every bizarre situation to win for God and country. And on that level, SPECTRE is extremely satisfying. Is this the best Bond ever? No, I still prefer (in no particular order) GOLDFINGER, SKYFALL, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and CASINO ROYALE. If this is Craig’s last turn as the dashing assassin/spy, then it is a proper sendoff.