Spectre kicks off in Mexico, with Bond hiding out in the middle of the Day of the Dead parade. An action sequence ensures and Bond ends up with a ring. A ring that provides him with the logo of an evil organisation he's on the hunt for, despite knowing next to nothing about it. His search leads him overseas yet again, except this time he encounters a young woman named Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of former bond villain, Mr. White (Jasper Christensen). She's well aware of what he's after and so she comes along with him as they attempt to track down Spectre, an organisation with connections to a lot of Bond's secretive past. And this organisation is led by none other than a man named Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), who also has connections to Bond. What appeared to be an everyday mission has suddenly turned into a personal endeavour, and one that will push Bond beyond his limits.
From here, Spectre's entire first half is phenomenal. The plot is intricate, really pulling you into the story. It's not just about the action, it's about the journey Bond is going on, and it's a journey I was thoroughly invested in. The writers of the film have tied the plot to all of the previous Daniel Craig Bond outings, plus they've added a little extra something, and the result is sensational. It's a deep and intricate plot that makes the two and a half hour runtime fly by. The final result is ultimately predictable, but getting to this point is a lot of fun.
As previously mentioned, Spectre brings back the Bond of old. While Casino Royale introduced us to a fresh take on the classic character, full of regret and alcoholism, Spectre brings back some of the campiness we haven't seen in a while. We have the henchman, the evil organisation, the many women who see Bond and swoon, the Vodka martini, the cool gadgets and so much more. It's not a bad thing as for the most part it works extremely well, but it just feels slightly off in comparison to Craig's previous outings. It doesn't always follow the same tone that the rebooted series already established.
Bond, being the womaniser that he is, always gets the girl. In every single Bond film, there's always a girl. There's always someone who wins him over, and in Spectre, there's two. The first is a widow named Lucia (Monica Bellucci). I was expecting her to play a more pivotal role, but instead she just serves as an excuse to have a sex scene. For me, it personally didn't work. Their encounter felt forced. He was given information regarding the plot, sure, but the romance was added for the sake of romance and it just didn't work. She's a grieving widow who lets Bond into her bed simply because he forcefully asked her a few questions. It's something I'd expect to see in a Roger Moore Bond film, not a Daniel Craig one.
Taking place simultaneously to the main plot of the movie, we also follow the story of M (Ralph Fiennes) as he attempts to defend the 00 agent program from being shut down. Causing this shut down is a man named C (Andrew Scott), whose motives, like every antagonist in this movie, aren't very clear. In fact, I don't even think they exist, although does anyone really have a motive in this movie or did they just wake up one day and think to themselves, 'hey, I might be evil today?' The sub-plot does have its connections to Bond's adventure, but I can't help but feel that it dragged from time to time, taking up a little more screen time than it deserved.
On the bright side, Mendes totally nails the character of Bond. Sure, it deviates slightly from Craig's previous incarnation of the character, but in its own right, it works so well. He's evolved over the course of four films and he's currently at the point he was back in the 60s and 70s, and it appears that Mendes understands what made that character who he is, and so does Craig. He's charming, likeable and layered, and his performance here works extremely well. I still think his best Bond performance was in Casino Royale, but that's not to say his performance in Spectre disappoints. But what does disappoint is the opening title sequence. The song is catchy, but the visuals are unintentionally disturbing. Octopuses, man. Freaking octopuses.
To sum up, Spectre is a return to the Bond films of old. While Craig's previous outings have been a bit more grounded, Spectre returns to the goofy fun, and for the most part, it succeeds. It just needs a better finale and more screen time for Christoph Waltz.