After the critical and commercial success that was Skyfall, expectations were incredibly high for Spectre, especially since it seemed to promise the return of a classic aspect of the Connery era, the titular evil organization. With Sam Mendes back behind the camera, Spectre is another gorgeous looking Bond movie filled with incredible action but it’s bogged down by trying to tie everything in the previous three Craig movies together.
Spectre picks things up a short while after Skyfall with Bond first tracking down an assassin in Mexico City and then learns he was part of a secret organization that has been behind various attacks around the world. The leader of this group, Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), seems to have a personal connection to Bond’s past. Back in London, M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) are facing the end of the 00 program when an upstart intelligence official, C (Andrew Scott) is on the verge of launching a new division that will tie in the intelligence streams of nine contributing nations into one mega intelligence machine. The main problem with Spectre, although I love and appreciate the fact that they tried, is that they try to tie all the villains and all the plots of the previous Craig movies into the newly reacquired Spectre umbrella but there’s no explanation or attempt to reveal how everything was tied in. It’s simply stated multiple times that everyone from Le Chiffre to Silva to Vesper was tied to Spectre but that just opens up so many questions that it makes the coolness of that revelation unravel. Even within just Spectre, the plot kind of unravels as Christoph Waltz’s character makes increasingly dumb decisions in his attempts at revenge. It’s nowhere near as bad but it reminded me at times of what happened last season on Arrow with R’has Al Ghul, who would in one episode want Oliver dead and then in next want him to be the next Demon’s Head. Christoph Waltz Also Dave Bautista’s Hinx, while involved in spectacular action set piece after spectacular action set piece, ultimately is unnecessary to anything else going on.
Speaking of spectacular action, whatever shortcomings there are in the plot are almost made up for by the action. The opening during the Day of the Dead is incredible, with an opening tracking shot that leads to one of the many great sequences involving helicopters in Spectre. Hinx and Bond have three big encounters but their brutal fight on a train, which has to be an homage to From Russia with Love, is one of the best fights of the Craig era. There are a ton of great easter eggs and throwbacks, just like in Skyfall, with the DB5 making another cameo and a new take on a classic scene from Goldfinger involving drills instead of lasers. This is also the first movie where it seems like they let Daniel Craig actually have fun being Bond. This is the quippiest and loosest Daniel Craig has been so far and it makes everything that much more fun when it seems like Bond is enjoying things as much as we are.
Overall, I would probably rank Spectre third among the four Daniel Craig movies. It never reaches the heights of Skyfall or the depth of Casino Royale but it’s still better than the mess of Quantum of Solace. Even the third best Daniel Craig Bond is still a great Bond full of great action, it’s just trying too hard to fit the square pegs of the previous three Craig movies into an octopus shaped hole.