James Bond gets a mysterious message so he begins delving into the past; which is what we do as well. Hmmm, a James Bond movie: Luxury car chases? Check. Interesting locales? Check. Lovely women? Check. Torture? Check. Gunfights? Check. Blowie uppie stuff? Check. Yup, we're in familiar territory. Meanwhile back at headquarters, M is struggling to keep his agency alive, so committee meetings and politics are his focus.

This profitable franchise boasts Sam Mendez ("Skyfall") back at the helm with a lackluster story and script written by a committee, which takes us down a time-tested trail. The movie runs for 147 l-o-n-g minutes; we could have edited the elaborate title sequence for starters! Our press screening began with a poorly lip-synced promo of pop singer Sam Smith singing "Writing's on the Wall," which refers to a wall where dead agents' names are engraved. James Bond's name has been handwritten in red.

Here is part of the enormous cast:
  • Daniel Craig (three recent Bond films, plus "The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo" - 2011) may be doing his last stint as James Bond, although I see an announcement called "Bond 25" which may make a liar out of me. Craig is athletic and inscrutable, so we know we're in capable hands.
  • Christoph Waltz ("Big Eyes") is Oberhauser, this chapter's villain, who reveals a surprising link to our hero's past. Remember, this actor has already won two Oscars and he clearly is having a great time with another villainous role.
  • Léa Seydoux ("Inglorious Basterds") is our new Bond Girl. Her name is Madeleine Swann and she hates guns.
  • Ralph Fiennes ("The Grand Budapest Hotel") is M, faced with endless bureaucratic rigmarole, so we are happy when he straps on a gun and sets out to help his rogue agent.
  • Ben Whishaw ("The Danish Girl") is Q; he's full of ideas and gadgets, plus his hesitant loyalty to Bond is sweet. I love this guy and was delighted that this time he gets out of his workshop!
  • Naomie Harris ("Southpaw") is our new Moneypenny, more outgoing than her predecessor and far more engaged in the agency's field work. She and Q make a good team.
These PG-13 films have very little profanity, a bit of implied sex, and formulaic plots. I just think I liked them better when all this stuff was new...
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Here's a sample:
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