"Welcome, James. It's been a long time. Now finally, here we are." - Oberhauser
Spectre picks up a few months after the events of Skyfall. In the latest addition to the Bond mythos, 007 is on the lead of an evil, and very global, organization following a final cryptic mission from the previous M, all while the new M, Q and Ms. Moneypenny do all they can to preserve the "00" program from being shut down by new upstart hotshot, C, played by Andres Scott of BBC Sherlock Holmes fame.
After Skyfall came out, everyone (Bond fans and non-fans alike) knew that Mendes and Co. would have their hands full trying to best the movie that, in many minds, was the best Bond film of all time. And the thing is, they almost did it. Spectre is a very story-driven movie with a few moments of action, which is fine by me. I've been waiting for a Bond film like this that answers a lot of questions about Bond's past, but you are left wanting a bit more action. The action that (director) Sam Mendes does give us is just WOW! The stunts are spectacular, and the scenes and locations are jaw-dropping (literally, my jaw dropped with some of the locations). The movie moves from Mexico City to London to Tunisia to South Africa. The story has a lot of callbacks to the three previous Craig/Bond films.
Quick side-note: the Aston-Martin DB-10 and the new Jaguar are stunning. The clothing style is impeccable and was the driving force for this critic getting into the gym in the morning.
Returning from Skyfall is obviously Daniel Craig (arguably the best James Bond), Ralph Fiennes as M (who we finally see showing off some of his own spy skills), Ben Whishaw as Q, Rory Kinnear as Tanner and the talented Naomie Harris as Ms. Moneypenny. These were perfectly cast, and they have been since they were first re-introduced in Casino Royale, and you know how they are going to be movie in and movie out. So I'm not going to bother too much with the returning cast, instead I'm going to focus on the new cast, which there were plenty of.
As with any Bond film, there are a few things that are automatically equated with the Bond films, two of which I've already touched on (i.e. cars and clothes) but number three would be the "Bond Girls", and in this one we get two talented actresses in Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux, both of whom are very, very good. Ms. Bellucci has a very small, yet important role. It is nice and refreshing to see James Bond with a woman more his age (a beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, am I right?), but the main Bond girl is Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann. Seydoux is fantastic in the role, and while people may get upset at how fast Bond tends to fall in love with "his girls" and vice versa, people still have to remember that these are Bond films. So while there are scenes that make you scratch your head, quickly remind yourself that this is Bond we are talking about.
The great touch that Mendes and these Bond movies do is that they make the Bond Girls both realistic, intelligent, and they broke away from the "Bond Girl" names (although, anytime I can write names like "Pussy Galaore" and "Dr. Goodhead" I am going to take it, but Eva Green as Vesper Lynd is still my favorite Bond girl)
Don't worry sweet readers, I didn't forget the fourth "Bond-ism" and that would be the bad guys! Outside of Quantum of Solace, which still isn't a bad film, all the Mendes films have had really great villains (especially Skyfall), and you get that with Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser with deep, dark secrets that come to a semi-shocking revelation and his henchman Hinx, played well by Dave Bautista who has a little Oddjob/Jaws "extra" about himself. Bautista is a perfect henchman; he doesn't talk, he's huge and intimidating and throws Bond around like a rag doll. Now, for the main villain, Oberhauser is a great Bond bad guy, and once again all those tragic events that happened to Bond (and when you look back starting with what happened to Vesper Lynd all the way up to M, Dame Judy Dench), everything falls into place.
While contract talks with Daniel Craig are under way for another film, the movie ends as both a great wrap-up to the Mendes/Craig Bond films and as a possible send-off for Daniel Craig. The movie is a little under 2½ hours and is totally worth it. This is a movie you should be seeing opening weekend and maybe next weekend as well. Take anyone, your dad, brother, sister, significant other, a stranger, or yourself. It's worth the price of admission and much, much more. If you have the option, go see it in IMAX. It is amazing!