SpectreAfter causing an international incident, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has been grounded. M (Ralph Fiennes) has ordered Q (Ben Whishaw) to fit Bond with a means to track him anywhere in the world. Bond is not satisfied with being benched while he is tracking an international crime syndicate.

Bond enlists Q and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) as his accomplices in his quest. “Borrowing” some equipment from MI-6, Bond heads to Rome. When he finds the one person who can help him uncover the criminal organization, he must convince her to help him while they are being hunted by a vicious henchman (Dave Bautista).

Meanwhile in London, C (Andrew Scott), head of the Centre of National Security, the hub of all of Britain’s intelligence agencies, is proposing a worldwide surveillance network that would allow for global intelligence gathering, allowing him to finally do away with the obsolete “Double O” program.

Following on the heels of SkyfallSpectre has some big shoes to fill. After seeing Skyfall, I criticized its approach to Bond movies. Particularly, when Q implies that they no longer use exploding pens and that type of thing. These gadgets are essential to Bond movies. Thankfully, Spectre brings some of that back. Exploding devices, cars that shoot flames out of the exhaust. If that is the kind of thing that comes to mind when someone mentions James Bond, you’re in luck.

Daniel Craig has said that he is done with Bond films after this one. It’s a fact that becomes obvious watching his last turn. His performance feels like he phoned it in at times. There doesn’t seem to be much chemistry, or sexiness, between him and Léa Seydoux or Monica Bellucci’s characters. Part of this is most likely due to cultural shifts since the originals, and a focus on giving women stronger characters, rather than just pawns to be objectified, used, and tossed aside. Léa Seydoux’s character is definitely a more solid character, giving her some power and depth. Monica Bellucci, however, is thrown in for the classic Bond seduction moment. Perhaps we move past this when the next Bond takes over.

While Christoph Waltz is the lead villain in the film, he doesn’t really make an appearance until the 1:45 mark. Even then, it is the same stereotypical villain Christoph seems to play in most of his movies. Aside from a “surprise twist,” there doesn’t seem to be much for his character to do. Instead, Dave Bautista takes the main stage when it comes to battling Bond. He is ruthless and unrelenting. I didn’t realize until we were discussing after the movie that I don’t think he speaks one word the entire film. It makes him more chilling as an assassin.

Weighing in at a hefty two and a half hours, Spectre is a behemoth of a movie. Sure, there are a fair number of car chases and fight scenes to fill the time. However, most of the time is spent on exposition, villains “monologuing,” as called out in The Incredibles. Some of this is necessary, I guess, to give you some background and insight into the story and the plots of the worldwide criminal group. It gets to be a bit much and takes away from the film. If they had cut some of the exposition and the long shots to build tension, they could have shaved off half an hour and ended up with a more palatable Bond movie. As it stands, it is just too long.

Overall, it’s not a bad film. I just wish the pacing was more consistent. Slow downs between the action drag the film down a bit. Bond diehards will enjoy the film. I was just hoping for a something more.

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