Mailing it in
As the immediate successor to Skyfall, arguably the best James Bond film in the entire canon, Spectre was likely doomed from the outset. By no means is it on the travesty level of A View to a Kill or Die Another Day, but it is still a shocking disappointment on the heels of Skyfall.
That shortcoming has been made possible by the perfunctory efforts of everyone involved. Lead actor Daniel Craig, director Sam Mendes, co-star villain Christoph Waltz, and the four (count ‘em, four) screenwriters seem stymied, or perhaps bored, by the ponderous weight of the accumulated Bond mythology. What could have represented an interesting complication to the overarching story (no spoilers here) gets lost among the admittedly spectacular set-piece stunts and chases. Even the cinematography and locations seem dull in comparison to the luminous Skyfall.
Despite all this, the film is off to more record-breaking ticket sales, so there’s little chance that it will be the last of Bond, even though the script frequently references his sought-after retirement. But clearly, Craig appears done with the role (saying in an interview with Time Out that he would rather slash his wrists than play Bond again). Let’s hope the next installment can revive 007’s resilient allure.