Running Time: 148 mins.
Premise: James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes rogue after receiving a secret message, and uncovers a sinister organization called SPECTRE led by the villainous Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), who may be linked to Bond's past.
Behind-the-Scenes: After breaking out with the biggest grossing Bond of all time in Skyfall (over $1 billion worldwide), director Sam Mendes was reluctant to return for its follow-up, but MGM made him an offer he couldn't refuse (read: lots of $$$$). Craig has hinted that this could be his final turn as Bond, though he's contracted to do one more (and probably will).
The Good: Mendes starts the movie with an impressive bang, opening with a long, continuous take tracking Bond in Mexico at the Day of the Dead parade. Dave Bautista makes a favorable impression as a villainous henchman in the mode of Odd Job and Jaws. His fight scene with Bond on a train is the action highlight of the film. The relationship between Q (Ben Whishaw) and Bond is nicely coming into its own. Despite Roger Deakins not coming back as cinematographer, this is still a handsome, well-shot film with high production values that befit its massive budget.
The Bad: It's dull and overlong, and grinds to a deadly halt in the middle. The script (by four credited writers) is a bloated, unenjoyable mess, on par with the Writers Strike-hampered script for Quantum of Solace. The SPECTRE organization is poorly developed and ambiguously motivated, never really coming into focus as a clear threat. Waltz fares even worse as the main baddie. When Quentin Tarantino writes for him, Waltz is money on screen. Here, he's hung out to dry by the script and utterly wasted in a key role. Other than the aforementioned train fight, the action fails to make much of an impression. It's badly edited and fails to generate much in the way of thrills or suspense. Craig's chemistry with new Bond girl Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) is almost non-existent, which creates a problem when the movie tries to play up their love story. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect is the film's inability to capitalize on the promise that Skyfall set up for the future of the series. Even though Craig may have one more in him, it may be time to move on to the next iteration.
Should You See It?: Look, it's a Bond movie. As a big fan of the franchise, there are highs and lows, but I think all are worth seeing, so yes. See it. Just know that this is one of the lesser Bonds, and go in with that expectation.
Star Rating: **1/2 out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Quantum of Solace (barely)
Worse Than: Casino Royale, Skyfall
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