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Logline: While M works to keep the secret service alive, Bond uncovers a ruthless organization.

Review: Directed by Sam Mendes who helmed the previous Bond adventure Skyfall (2012), Spectre is the 24th film in the franchise.  One knows what to expect in a Bond film.  They all follow the same formula.  Spectre feels very formulaic, though and lacks any of the surprises that made Skyfall such a great Bond film.

Daniel Craig returns as 007 for the fourth time and he is great in the role. Craig’s Bond is a cold assassin who is closer to Ian Fleming’s creation than any of the other actors who have portrayed the secret agent.  Craig has stated on numerous occasions that this may be his final Bond outing. Christoph Waltz is very good as Bond’s adversary Blofeld but he is sadly, underused.

For a film that clocks in at nearly two and a half hours, Spectre is surprisingly brisk.  There are some impressive action sequences but it all feels so formulaic.  Bond’s love interest goes from wanting nothing to do with him to sleeping with him and falling in love in no time.  Perhaps, there is some validity to the mojo concept of Austin Powers after all.  I crave a Bond film in which the tired, familiar ingredients are shaken, not stirred as they are in this familiar machine.

Despite its familiarity though, Spectre is entertaining and does at least try to shed some more light on Bond’s past.  The film features impressive stunts and is nicely shot.  In view of Craig’s Bond films, Spectre is better than Quantum of Solace (2008) but not nearly as good as Casino Royale (2006) or Skyfall.  Simply put, Spectre is a flawed but fun, rousing adventure.

Rating (out of ****): ***