Granger on Movies: ‘Spectre’
Published 12:16 pm, Saturday, November 28, 2015
Although this 24th installment of the James Bond saga is action-packed, the 53-year-old franchise, based on British Secret Agent 007, is creaking and beginning to show its age.
Beginning in Mexico City during the massive celebration of the Day of the Dead, it shows Bond (Daniel Craig) scampering over rooftops, deftly assassinating an Italian bad guy, even as British Intelligence is still recovering from the massive attack that killed off M (Judy Dench) in "Skyfall."
Apparently, before her demise, M sent a warning message to Bond that sends him on a global manhunt for evil Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), the mastermind of a crime syndicate called SPECTRE, who evokes recollections of James’ orphaned childhood and an infamous Bond villain from the past.
Complicating matters, Bond is summarily grounded by the cocky, new National Security Director Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), who is obsessed with creepy cyber-security. He’s determined to shut down the 00-section and disband Bond’s trusty team of Ralph Fiennes as Mallory (M’s replacement), Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw as gadget-master Q.
While Bond still beds every sexy woman who crosses his path, the four screenwriters (John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth) and director Sam Mendes have the good grace to include 50-year-old Monica Belluci (as an icy Italian widow who registers as 007’s oldest conquest) before he settles on sullen, 30-year-old Lea Seydoux.
Insofar as chase sequences, some are impressive: the helicopter spinning over the crowded Zocalo in Mexico City, a spin through Morocco, a plane careening down an Austrian mountainside and a speeding automobile encounter in Rome.
The budget was reportedly over $250 million, and at 148 minutes, “Spectre” is the longest in the Bond series.
Problem is, an enervating fatigue has set in, taking the humor and fun with it. Even the title sequence is lame, particularly the signature song, Sam Smith’s whiny ballad, "The Writing’s On the Wall."
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Spectre" is a sinister, sadistic 6, clumsy escapist entertainment that’s neither shaken nor stirring.