Review: Daniel Craig shows off his license to thrill

By Scott Davis

Although never reaching the incredible heights of Casino Royale or Skyfall, director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig team up for another solid Bond adventure in Spectre.

Iconic is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the James Bond franchise. For over five decades, 007 adventures have given us eye-rolling one-liners, quirky gadgets, cheesy villains and loads of ridiculous plots. All of those things would not pass in other films, but for whatever reason do in the James Bond universe.

All of that being said, we have witnessed three Daniel Craig starring Bond films that have drastically changed the character. Craig’s first 007 adventure, Casino Royale, stripped Bond down to his roots and showed a grittier and more violent spy. Quantom of Solace continued that with lesser with results, and Skyfall combined the grittiness with emotional complexity giving us one of the best Bonds ever.

Thanks to over a billion dollars at the box office, Skyfall’s director, Sam Mendes, returns to helm the follow-up, Spectre. While Skyfall featured more of an emotional adventure for Bond and his colleagues (particularly M), Spectre features more of a straight forward spy plot. This time Bond is just following a trail of bread crumbs that lead to a mysterious organization, and while it is never boring, it never really throws anything at the audience they have not seen before.

Instead of hitting the audience over the head with another heavy film, things feel much lighter this go-round, especially during the first half. There are many callbacks to the franchise’s iconic moments that will be fun for fans, but there is plenty to enjoy for newcomers. Ben Whishaw as Q gets more to do, for example, and steals the spotlight with his quick wit and chemistry with Craig.

Although Skyfall might not have been the strongest action film ever made, Mendes proved that he knew how to stage and shoot action sequences. He continues this in Spectre as this might be the best shot Bond film ever because of the incredible locations, shot lengths and cinematography. The film is always a pleasure to look at, even though the action itself is more straightforward.

Undoubtedly the highlight of this film is the opening sequence.The film opens with a long tracking shot that is remarkable and rarely seen in big budget franchise films. Mendes perfectly paces the action afterwards by using different cuts and the scenery around him to his advantage.

There has been a lot of speculation whether or not this would be Daniel Craig’s final Bond film, and although I think he is the perfect actor for the role, I do hope this is his last. The way the film leaves this James Bond feels like the fitting end to his take on the character and I would be very interested to see someone else take it on. Craig has given us everything he’s got, including two of the best received Bond films (Casino Royale and Skyfall), so I do not see anything wrong with leaving the character now.

Spectre is a thrilling and fun James Bond adventure that adds to the argument that Daniel Craig is the series’ best James Bond. The film might be simpler this time, but those looking for a good spy action movie should find themselves satisfied. Very, satisfied. 

GRADE: B+