(originally published Nov 08, 2015)
SPOILER WARNING: There be spoilers!
Spectre is simultaneously an upheaval of the recent Bond films, and an homage to what came before. It's cartoonish to a genuinely shocking degree, and only resembles the previous films in narrative details and in who plays Bond.
It's a jarring tonal shift that works in some ways and doesn't in others. On one hand, the fact that it feels nothing like the previous three films makes it feel weirdly out of place, especially given the similar talent behind it. On the other, it fits the familiar "old ways vs. new ways" narrative, beating into your head the idea that the new way of doing things - mass surveillance in this case - is way shittier than the old way, which is totally rad and awesome and involves explosions and banging (of both the sexual and violent variety).
Craig seemed more or less disinterested in this film, and his recent comments about it being a hellish shoot reflect in his performance. He has some good moments, but I didn't really care for him the way I did in Casino Royale or Skyfall. Christoph Waltz is pretty good as Blofeld, or whatever obviously fake name he's known as before the dumb fan service Blofeld reveal. The material he's given is good considering the movie, I just wish his talents were used to serve a better film.
Still, it's not bad by any stretch. It's fun to watch, looks unsurprisingly phenomenal thanks to Hoyte Van Hoytema's photography, and is directed well by Sam Mendes. I kinda wish they had done something entirely standalone and didn't try to connect all of the previous films, because the outlandish execution completely belies everything that preceded it. As a big budget Bond adventure, you can do WAY worse than this, though.