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When we last saw James Bond, it was in the mega-hit “Skyfall” that was released in 2012.
Since the first James Bond movie, 1962’s “Dr. No”, the series has been consistently entertaining and well worth a trip to the movie theater with a stumble every so often.
But “Skyfall” was different. It took the series to a new level. There was talk of a possible best picture Oscar nomination. Adele did win an Oscar for the movie’s theme song. And it was a license to print money.
“Spectre” is the encore. And although the 24th movie in the series isn’t “Skyfall”, it comes oh so close.
Bond, (Daniel Craig in his fourth mission as 007), discovers “Spectre”, a worldwide criminal organization that is headed by Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz in a brilliant casting move) and we later find out that he is actually Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Now Bond fans, who have seen the movies from the 1960s and 1970s, will know that Spectre and Blofeld were a thorn in Bond’s side on many an adventure. They were last seen in 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever.” In “Spectre” they are treated as new discoveries by Bond.
Perhaps I am being too careful in not revealing many plot points, but with movies just recently released I just don’t want to give too much away.
I will say that “Spectre” is another wonderful journey with the world’s most famous spy. Stops in this movie include Mexico City, Rome, Austria and Morocco. And like in “Skyfall”, a significant portion of the movie takes place in London which was long overdue in the series. There’s plenty of action including a great car chase in Rome.
And let’s face it, the bad guys have to be destroyed and Bond has been up to the challenge as previous movies have shown.
Lea Seydoux is terrific as Dr. Madeline Swann, who Bond meets after getting information from her father, a former member of Spectre. She is a woman of good looks, but also a woman of substance.
Sam Mendes, directing his second straight Bond film, faced a challenge of what to do for an encore and he met the challenge. “Spectre” isn’t perfect. I think 15 minutes could have been trimmed off the final 2:30 length and a plot point involving Bond and Blofeld as children just doesn’t work. Longer movies are okay as long as they don’t feel like longer movies. Every so often, “Spectre” drags.
But these are just minor annoyances.
Ralph Fiennes is in his first Bond movie as M. Naomie Harris returns as Moneypenny as does Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner, M’s chief of staff.
Media reports state that a new studio will need to be found to finance the next Bond picture. And Craig has suggested that he might or might not be done as 007.
Regardless of that, the series is in great shape after 53 years and may it continue for some time to come.

RATING — *** 1/2 stars