"Spectre" opens with an extraordinarily choreographed assassination scene during the "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of The Dead) parade in Mexico City and an impressive topsy-turvy hand-to-hand fight in a helicopter that threatens the crowd below. Days later, Bond is reviewing a cryptic video message sent by M before her death in "Skyfall." She directs him to kill a target and attend the funeral for additional clues. In fitting Bond style, he assassinates the man, seduces the wife, and then travels across Europe to uncover the identity of an unknown organization that seeks to eliminate national spy networks and create one central, global surveillance monopoly.
Bond Enthusiasts: If you enjoyed the history of the Spectre organization from the novels and earlier films you may be disappointed by this remixed version. The secret that we've waited to learn from "Skyfall" is not that climactic or revelational. In fact, it's insultingly predictable.
On a brighter note: The romps through Morocco, Austria, England, and Italy are stylish, the sets are impeccably designed, the fashion is posh, and the Aston Martin DB10 is a gorgeous addition to Bond's collection.
Action Fans: The action is raw and pure: no strings and minimal CGI; but you've seen it all before - and it's distressingly boring. It takes great effort to pack a $200 million action film with boring action sequences. That effort could have been better utilized on character development and on-screen chemistry. Award-winning actors, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, and Léa Seydoux are crippled by poor directing and a stifled take on what should have been one of the best Bond films of all time. The chemistry is stale and the plot is a plain off-the-shelf standard.
Dame Judi Dench has played the vital role of M - Bond's boss and moral compass - in seven films beginning with 1995's "Goldeneye." Audiences have grown accustomed to her maternal influence over James and her presence is sorely missed in this rendition. Daniel Craig - who brought us the emotionally fatigued 007 - lacks the enthusiasm and charisma of his debut in "Casino Royale" or the focus of "Skyfall". Ralph Fiennes seems as though he needed a bowl of Wheaties to muster the energy for his role as the new M.
This 24th installment of the Bond franchise proves that - unlike wine - some things don't improve with age. While this is a good action film, it's not a great Bond film.
Action Fans - 2.5 out of 4 miner.
Bond Enthusiasts - 3 out of 4
Family Audiences - 1 out of 4