Spectre (2015) Director: Sam Mendes
Spectre is the fourth Bond film featuring Daniel Craig. It is the second Bond film directed by Sam Mendes -one of the few James Bond directors who directed back-to-back Bond films. Mendes was lured back after the extraordinary success of Skyfall. Spectre was one of the most expensive Bond films ever made, more than double the budget of Skyfall, and when there was a hack on Sony Productions it was revealed what a chaotic production went into the making Spectre.
The films opens with Bond receiving a posthumous note from M (recall she died at the end of Skyfall) telling him to disrupt a criminal deal in Mexico on the Dia de los Muertos festival. He kills the criminal in a dramatic opening sequence and takes his mysterious golden ring with an octopus on it. Continuing from the last film, there is an internal power struggle back in London as the new M (Mallory) is being overshadowed by “C.” The 00 program is commanded to be shut down in favor of international surveillance and intelligence communities. Bond travels to Rome anyway in disobedience and he discovers an underground crime organization. As it turns out all the villains of the previous three Bond films: Le Chiffe, Dominic Greene, and Raoul Silva were all part of the same criminal organization: Spectre. Predictably, Bond is captured and taken to the lair of Spectre, located inside a huge crater, and Bond learns that Spectre is behind the international intelligence group. The leader is a man named Oberhauser who took the name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld (a character from the early novels and films who has not appeared in a Bond film since Diamonds Are Forever in 1971). Bond is tortured until he sets off an explosive wristwatch in Blofeld’s face, causing his signature scar. He escapes only to be captured again and taken to the ruins of the old M16 building from the bombing by Silva in the previous movie, which is scheduled for demolition after the explosion. In the end, Bond escapes with his love interest and shoots down Blofeld in his helicopter and confronts him before leaving Blofeld to be arrested by M and the intelligence crew.
The theme song is performed by Sam Smith, but there was a much better theme song written and recorded by Radiohead that was not included with the film (unfortunately).
Spectre is an entertaining Bond film, and the theme of popular skepticism toward an international intelligence cooperative is timely, perhaps even prescient, however the film falls far short of other better Bond films. The reintroduction of SPECTRE and Blofeld was a nice touch, but far more could have been done for Bond fans -Blofeld was surprisingly underwhelming and boring. The opening scene during the Dia de los Muertos celebration in Mexico is far and away the most amazing scene in the movie, perhaps a pre-cursor to Sam Mendes’s follow-up masterpiece 1917, but much of Spectre is slow and drawn out. It is over 2.5 hours long and is filled confusing cliches and troubling plot-holes.