Tim here. Four films in, it feels like it's been enough time for the Daniel Craig era of James Bond films to stop doing the origin story thing, but nope, Spectre – the 24th film in the franchise, and the first in its second half-century of life – once again finds the rebooted series putting a whole movie's worth of energy into establishing something that was covered in, like, one scene back in 1963's From Russia with Love. That being the existence of the titular criminal organization, the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. It's not so much frustrating as it is baffling: "learn more about Spectre" is basically the whole of the film's plot, with no real threat that needs to be stopped. There's some weird and unsatisfying business with a multinational agreement to share espionage resources, I guess that's the thing driving the plot. A cache of stolen nukes or an attempt to start World War III, it ain't.
Does any of that really matter? If anything, Spectre reveals the core pleasures of the Bond franchise, by removing even the vestige of an actual narrative. It's an exercise in lifestyle porn globetrotting, with Craig handsomely filling out a whole bunch of Tom Ford suits as director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema take great pains to make a lot of extremely gorgeous locations in Europe and North Africa look, well, gorgeous. At frequent intervals there is an action setpiece, most of which are pretty terrific. [More...]