Action-packed “Spectre” sees the return of James Bond

Noah Thomas | Assistant Sports Editor

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“Spectre”—the twenty-fourth installment in the 007 franchise—opened up the box offices in November as one of the most highly anticipated film releases of 2015.

Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, and Léa Seydoux, “Spectre” marks the fourth appearance of Craig as MI-6 agent James Bond and, potentially, his last. The British actor made his debut in the franchise in 2006’s “Casino Royale”, the series’ most recent reboot, and has received nearly universal critical acclaim in each subsequent appearance.

The film kicks off with the phrase “The dead are alive” flashing across a black screen. The opening shot is an overview of a Mexico City that is fully engulfed in a Day of the Dead celebration. James Bond, there on his own initiative, manages to sabotage a plot to blow up an entire stadium of people.

Bond dispatches the brains of the terrorist operation while stealing the man’s ring right off his finger. The ring bears the symbol of a black octopus; a symbol belonging to that of the eponymous organization—Spectre.

This introduction then launches into a breathtaking title sequence. With Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” as narration, this is easily the best title sequence of any Bond film in the Craig era, but the beautiful visuals and artwork make this a contender for best opening to any Bond film.

As always, Craig is a spectacular Bond. His charisma, his prowess in the role and overpowering presence on the screen make him the highlight of the film—no different than the previous three installments.

Craig’s character is nicely complimented this time around with an equally magnificent Léa Seydoux portraying Madeleine Swann, the daughter of previous villain Mr. White. Her natural chemistry with Craig is one of the best things about this movie, and if the film’s villain and overall plot had been better, “Spectre” could have potentially usurped “Skyfall” as the premier 007 film.

That’s right: Franz Oberhauser, played by Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz, is kept in the shadows and shrouded in mystery for far too long. When Oberhauser finally does make his grand, full-faced appearance in the films later act, his presence is underwhelming.

The biggest weakness in the character is the way he is written, and while suspense is built up throughout the film leading up to his appearance, it does more harm than good.

Waltz is an outstanding actor, but ultimately there is too much hype to handle. He does as much as he can with what he is given, but there’s still much to be desired. It truly is the most disappointing aspect of this movie, for Waltz was perfectly cast as a Bond villain, but the direction the writing took his character was completely wrong. 

Verdict: “Spectre” does not quite live up to the precedent set by 2012’s “Skyfall”, but does a solid job of selling a story that is worth telling. Save the unfulfilled potential of Waltz’s poorly written character, then everything else about this film measures up to what we have come to expect from the 007 franchise in recent years (including Craig’s quintessential Bond). Fans of the franchise won’t be let down by “Spectre”, but they may leave the theater wanting more.