Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Monica Bellucci
Plot: James Bond follows up on the previous M's final order to pursue a secret organisation and subsequently discovers that its leader has ties to his own past.
Review: Skyfall, the previous Bond movie was pretty damn good, so much so that it has set the bar rather high for future instalments to reach. While Spectre no doubt tries hard, it doesn't quite match its predecessor's quality, though not for lack of trying.
Spectre begins in Mexico, where 007 kills a man and takes his ring. We discover later that this was the previous M's final order before her death. The ring leads Bond to a sinister organisation known as Spectre, which has connections to people he had killed before. Along the way, he has to protect Madeleine Swann, the daughter of Mr White, who used to work for Spectre. In the meantime, a merger between MI5 and MI6 allows the head of the Centre of National Security to take control and terminate the 00 program, much to M's chagrin.
Director Sam Mendes tries his best to outdo himself here, but with mixed results. A few action sequences, such as the opening chase in Mexico leading to a helicopter stunt, and a scrap between Bond and Dave Bautista's Mr Hinx, look pretty good. Even the snow covered chase between Bond and Madeleine's kidnappers involving jeeps and a plane, while looking simple, was shot quite well. But knowing what he had done in Skyfall, it's hard not to make comparisons and see Mendes come up short. And while the script attempts to make this story as personal as possible by having Spectre's leader be connected to Bond's past in a big way, its execution isn't as convincing as it could have been. The impending shutdown of the 00 program is also somewhat familiar to the plot of this year's Mission Impossible instalment, but to be honest, I don't mind it.
Daniel Craig is on point again as 007, no surprise there. Christoph Waltz is almost playing Hans Landa again here as the leader of Spectre. He's good but much too familiar. Lea Seydoux acquits herself well as Madeleine Swann, getting to save Bond at one point despite being mostly a damsel here. Monica Bellucci has little more than a glorified cameo here while Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris return as the new M and Moneypenny respectively. Ben Whishaw also returns as Q, and provides some much needed laughter.
If there's one thing here that I like better than Skyfall is Sam Smith's theme song, though I'm aware I'm in the minority. It doesn't quite have the energy of my all time favorite theme done by Duran Duran, but it fits the film well.
Bottom line is, comparisons aside, Spectre is a solid Bond entry. Maybe with tighter editing (148 minutes is hefty) and a bit more creativity, it would have been awesome. But go see it anyway. You've come this far. (7/10)