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Nothing but spectres of quality

“Spectre” isn’t really a great movie, neither in general terms nor in terms of James Bond movies. Well, especially not in terms of James Bond movies. It’s a pretty lackluster showing overall for arguably one of the greatest series of action films of all time. This entry feels like it’s banking off of name recognition and a few interesting action scenes in order to milk James Bond for a few extra bucks, instead of making him as great as his inclusion would imply.

The cinematography for this entry is one of the few things that make it worth seeing, with the action scenes, intro cinematic and a couple of tracking shots being the standouts. The customary opening song performed by Sam Smith, “Writing’s on the Wall,” makes an excellent addition to a strong soundtrack as well. However, these positive qualities are not saving graces.

Daniel Craig is good as James Bond, but that’s about all of the positivity that could be gleaned from the cast. The fact that someone managed to make both Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista’s performances seem bad – by handicapping them with an unworkable script – is almost impressive in and of itself. Not to mention that Léa Seydeux has the distinction of playing a Bond girl who is not just bland, but bland for a Bond girl.

The real weakness of “Spectre” however, lies not in a few average-to-below-average performances, but rather in a script that is so overloaded with themes and content that it kind of forgets that it’s a James Bond movie. “Spectre” is so interested in its themes of freedom and privacy in the age of terrorism and government surveillance that it neglects the other parts that are necessary for a James Bond film. When it does include these parts, they come across as rushed and forced. So, in the end, the film ends up falling short in both regards.

Plus, this is 2015: we should be allowed to be a little uncomfortable with the way James Bond treats women and if this is something that’s meant to be shown as a flaw in his character, then it really isn’t all that apparent. Not to mention that this film tries to get us to judge Bond for his physically violent actions a bit, almost to the point of being a deconstruction of his character, but then pulls back when it comes to sexual violence.

We should also be allowed to be upset about a Bond villain who hardly appears until the end of the second act and asks us to care about his plot simply because he is the villain. Not because his plan is interesting or special and not because it’s especially detestable – just because he’s the villain.

Overall, if you care about James Bond and his mythos, then you’ll enjoy this film no matter what this review says. However, if you have no such attachment, then this is probably not worth your time or your money.