Latest Bond heavily relies on specter of the past

By Bob Bloom

“Spectre” advances the James Bond franchise, while also offering nods to the past and resurrecting an iconic adversary.

Ironically, looking backward becomes the movie’s major flaw. After the success of “Skyfall,” which seemed to break the requisite Bond mold, “Spectre” plays like a throwback with all the standard ingredients — spectacular stunts and chases, explosions and beautiful women.

Not that, as to quote “Seinfeld,” “there is anything wrong with that,” but after “Skyfall,” it appeared as if producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, as well as director Sam Mendes, wanted to take the series in a new direction.

Apparently, “Spectre’s” preferred direction is in reverse.

After a dynamite opening in Mexico City that includes some breathtaking helicopter maneuvers, the film shifts to London where Bond is reprimanded by “M” (Ralph Fiennes) for carrying out an unsanctioned operation.

In a plot twist very similar to this past summer’s “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation,” the 00 program is under threat of being disbanded and replaced by state-of-the-art technology with claims it makes the 00s obsolete.

A smarmy bureaucrat, “C” (Andrew Scott), runs the program and, from the outset, you know he’s not kosher.

From London, Bond sneaks off to Rome, Austria and Tangiers before meeting the puppet master who it appears has been pulling the strings since Craig’s first Bond mission in the 2006 “Casino Royale.”

It is Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser who effortlessly steals “Spectre.” Christoph Waltz;Lea SeydouxAs a criminal mastermind with daddy issues, Oberhauser, like most Bond villains, loves to hear himself pontificate.

Bond speaks for the audience at one point when he tells Oberhauser to get on with his planned torture, so he doesn’t have to listen to his continual prattle.

Waltz’s character, in the grand scheme of things, appears to be the impetus for moving the franchise forward.

Oberhauser, however, as the head of Spectre, uses another identity — one well-known to aficionados of the franchise.

Craig fails to add any dimensions to his Bond. He seems to be going through the motions — looking grim or ruthless, depending on the situation. Craig seems detached and bored by the proceedings, which seem to reflect his recent interviews about this possibly being his last foray as Bond.

Plus, the chemistry between his Bond and French actress Lea Seydoux, as Dr. Madeleine Swann, is nil.

The four screenwriters — John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth — do interject some much-needed humor, as well as introducing a wonderful throwback villain, Mr. Hinx, played by David Bautista, who is involved in a brutal fight sequence that is a salute to “From Russia With Love.”

But, despite all the ingredients that Bond fans savor, “Spectre” feels like a step backward. We’ve seen it all before, and many Bond filmmakers have done it better.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

SPECTRE
2½ stars out of 4
(PG-13), intense action violence, disturbing images, sexual situations, language

  • ReelBob

    Come on Bond fans. Let me know what you think about “Spectre.” Comment at ReelBob.