While the Daniel Craig era hasn’t always been perfect for the James Bond franchise, it definitely has been its most ambitious era. Whether it was the grittiness of Casino Royale, the serialization of Quantum of Solace or the auteurism of Skyfall, each of the Craig films so far have had something to offer that hasn’t really been seen in a Bond film before. That tradition fortunately continues in Spectre, which sees both Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes returning. This time around it’s a sense of closure that appears for the first time in a Bond film. If this is to be Craig’s last Bond film, it will be a fitting end for the most effective Bond era ever.
Spectre follows James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission in Mexico where he picks up the hints of a rouge organization. The hints lead him to an old nemesis in Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who speaks of an organization behind all of Bond’s problems. The plot sounds a bit like the plot from this year’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and it’s hard not to think that Spectre is somewhat of a lesser version of that film while watching it. However, these coincidences are just coincidences unlike some of the other “coincidences” in recent Bond films (such as Skyfall’s borderline plagiarism of the The Dark Knight). The plot still ends up as one of the weaker elements of the film even if there is some ambition on display. The cheesy nature of so many of the first Bond films invades the plot here, but it was hinted that we were headed for a more classic version of Bond at the end of Skyfall. Still it’s a shame how much of a buzz kill the main villain and his plot is. Still there is a sense of closure throughout the plot that actually brings some uniqueness to the film. Numerous plot threads throughout the previous three films conclude here, and it ultimately feels like Bond as a character has changed.
If this is to be Craig’s final Bond performance he definitely is not going out on top. Here the Bond character is beginning to transition into the campier version of the original films, and Craig just can’t pull off the humor that many of his predecessors have been able to with ease. Fortunately, he is saved by a great supporting cast where people like Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott and Monica Bellucci (even if she just appears for a glorified cameo appearance) feel right at home. Additionally, Ralph Fiennes and (especially) Jesper Christensen continue to grow into their performances.
Spectre is far from the best Bond film but it brings some uniqueness that will cement it as a somewhat memorable addition to the franchise.