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An action extravaganza of diminishing returns, this Bond chapter left me a little bit shaken, but definitely not stirred.

There is a dandy beginning: the signature opening action sequence, here involving a huge and explosive scene in Mexico City, is trademark terrific. And Daniel Craig, gliding from rooftop to rooftop, commandeering a plunging helicopter, is pretty dandy, too. But then, as the rest of the movie continues (at a too lengthy two and a half hour running time), the air seeps slowly out of the lofty ambitions set up by the earlier and far more compelling Skyfall. Here, out to revenge M’s death, James once again is tossed from the Service, goes rogue, travels from scenic country to country, has lots of action both of the car chase brute force kind and of the women just can’t help themselves kind, too.

While Spectre hits all the expected notes, it rarely seems to be enjoying doing so. Even Christoph Waltz seems to be playing at lower energy than we’ve seen him before. Lea Seydoux has a few moments as the new Bond girl (who, like so many before her, learns to love 007 once he puts away a few even badder guys) as does Ralph Fiennes, who’s only given a few scenes in which to do so. My favorite of this generation is Ben Whishaw, who brings a seemingly genuine, endearing quirkiness that feels far more realistic and fun than just about anything else going on around him.

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