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Spectre (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 148 minutes.

Not for children.

There’s only one person alive who can kill James Bond; Daniel Craig. All the prior iterations had James as a womanizing, double-entendre dropping secret agent who never let a beautiful woman pass by unattended to.

Craig, however, is unconvincing as a man who finds women sexually appealing and this shows up in his films. Director Sam Mendes gamely tries to urge him on with 29 year old Léa Seydoux (who comes from a family of extremely successful businessmen; her grandfather, Jerome Seydoux, is chairman of Pathé). It’s worth noting, I guess, that she claims to be the first blonde Bond Girl. But there is about as much chemistry between Craig and Seydoux as there is between a brick wall and a tree. Craig “makes love” to her like he’s following instructions in a “how to” manual. Fortunately for Daniel and the audience, and, especially, Seydoux, these scenes are few and far between.

So gone are most of the womanizing, gags, and double-entendres. Craig turns this into a straight action film. It is beyond ludicrous, but in that vein, it’s Bondian. Except for the first three or four, all Bond films are ludicrous. But back then it was played for laughs. This is deadly serious, including a stomach-churning scene in which James is tortured by his nemesis, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz, in another fine performance as a villain).

The CGI and special effects are terrific, especially the opening. Bond films always open with a bang, and this one is no exception, except that what happens is slightly more believable than some of the others that had James flying off the sides of mountains.

It’s long, but director Sam Mendes never lets the pace drag, and it’s filled with typical Bondian great locations and captivating cinematography. This is just one action sequence after another. There are homages to former Bond movies. Some of the scenes are inexplicable, things that could only happen in a Hollywood movie, but, hey, this is a Hollywood movie!

This is definitely not what we have come to expect as a Bond film, but it’s still a good actioner. Alas, as long as we have Daniel Craig, we won’t have James Bond as interpreted by Sean Connery, director Terence Young, and writer Richard Mailbaum.