Spectre delivers everything in the blockbuster checklist but it’s also a repackaged throwback, turning into a shadow of its franchise rather than a catalyst for what may come.

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

The Bond Franchise is 53 years old but it can’t be denied that each resurrection comes with some fun thrills.

Spectre starts with the longest prologue of the franchise. It starts with typical spy work, becomes a foot chase through a parade celebrating death, and ends with a vertigo inducing fight scene. Yes, Bond manages to snag a beautiful girl and use her balcony to walk on the rooftops and reach the target. It’s a classic action sequence with everything that you would come to expect from the franchise.

This of course, becomes the catalyst for the movie. The plot is entertaining enough as the new installment learns from the successes and failures of its predecessors.

Taking its cue from Casino Royale, Spectre sends Bond to different locations and offers the promise of a new true love. Making a nod to the contemplative Skyfall, it addresses the timely issue of government surveillance and cyber control. Learning from the incomprehensible mess that is Quantum Solace, the narrative takes its time to let the audience find out the secrets along with Bond.

The cast has more to do here and made their limited screen time count. You get a glimpse of Moneypenny outside work. Tanner gets to tag along. M gets in on the action and out of his office. Q is forced out of his comfort zone as Bond’s shenanigans could cost him his mortgage and put his cats’ lives in jeopardy. The Bond girls here are different too. Dr. Swann is no Ilsa but she knows how to use a gun, which is already a lot considering that women in Bond films are used as decorations. Lucia Sciarra is the oldest but only age compatible hook-up ever in the history of the franchise. Daniel Craig does what he does best and adds some subtle humor in the movie.

Spectre wasn’t able to replicate the cinematography of its predecessor, but the Kodak 35mm format gave it a texture that matches the on-the-fly gritty Bond of the Craig era. The set locations and production design are also superb in creating contrasting yet interesting visuals. Spectre’s expansive meeting hall has heavy wood furniture while its headquarters has minimalist monochrome design. Set pieces include crowded streets in Mexico and a remote clinic perched on top of the Austrian Alps.

While Craig’s last outing as James Bond manages to do the job, Spectre is no more than a throwback of the greatest moments of its past lives.

The movie presents itself as the dotted line to a connected multiverse but isn’t convincing thanks to screenplay magic. Spectre ends up as a mixed bag of nostalgic elements that isn’t done in new nor refreshing ways. The ghost of childhood past; the spooky cabal; the indestructible henchman killed by simple ingenuity; and the villain with an expensive pet cat. Spectre is a tacked on threat that lead to an icky opening credit with an ill-fitted theme song. Christoph Waltz does fit the role with his trademark of amusing false civility, but he’s limited to a villain with vague motivations and intentions. Andrew Scott is much more interesting, but he doesn’t get to do much.You do get some nice action scenes but none of them reached the bar set by prologue as the movie repackages what has already done by its forbears.

It is understandable that as possibly the last Bond film starring Daniel Craig, Spectre will pay homage to his character. But the movie makes no effort to leave a distinct last hurrah which should have been the focus, considering that Craig’s version of Bond is different from everyone else.

Spectre fulfills blockbuster expectations, but is no Skyfall nor Casino Royale. It doesn’t provide any surprises nor a glimpse of a new direction the franchise may take. Overall, Spectre is indeed a specter – a shadow of Bond’s past and his franchise.

My Rating: 7/10

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