Spectre ★★★

What's Bond's relevance in today's potentially nefarious surveillance state? How does a government assassin feel about killing? Did some past trauma dull his conscience, and will he ever find true love? Who gives a shit? I guess some people want a James Bond film to be a grim rumination on death, but I'm not one of them. Anyway even beyond my not being particularly interested in Mendes' conceptual and psychological concerns for the character, these questions have already mostly been asked and answered. Here they insistently disrupt the pace of what's for the most part another impeccably technically-crafted entry. And that unevenness even bleeds into the individual sequences, the bread and butter. That slick opening shot collides with a stumbly handheld foot chase, which rebounds with that great helicopter fight (a patented 007 blend of stunt work and process photography), but then that awesome corkscrew stunt is interrupted with pointless cuts. Craig's cocky sliver of a grin at saving the day gives way to a funeral dirge of a theme song. And as far as the big twist goes, it's really all of a piece isn't it? The worse offense is that this lingers for an extraneous 30 minutes to wrap up those boring thematic questions. If it had ended with a classic battle at the villain's secret base, I'd be singing a much different tune. This isn't a terrible Bond movie really, but it crucially seems afraid of being too much fun.

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