"Spectre," the 24th movie in the 53-year-old James Bond franchise, is getting mixed reviews ahead of its Friday opening and stirring up speculation that interest in the suave British spy's adventures may be tapering off.
"But like a baseball team leaving its starting pitcher in a World Series game too long (no names, please), the folks at Eon went to the well once too often with both [Daniel] Craig ('Spectre' is his fourth Bond) and director Sam Mendes, doing his second," Los Angeles Times reviewer Kenneth Turan wrote.
Turan said the revolving door of Bond stars in the past worked to keep the franchise fresh and helped to keep viewers interested, but Craig is now "stale."
"When Craig took on the role in 2006's 'Casino Royale,' his rougher-edged, less-flippant Bond felt like a breath of fresh air, but almost a decade later it's gone stale," Turan wrote. "Craig's expression is so unchanging it might as well be chiseled out of stone, and his emotionally uninvolved performance is similarly lacking in nuance."
Others, though, aren't so quick to send Craig and director Mendes packing. Mendes was responsible for "Skyfall," which The Hollywood News called the "most successful British movie
of all time, raking in over $1.5 billion in worldwide takings."
THN reviewer Paul Heath said "Skyfall" and "Spectre" are different experiences, but he believes each is valuable.
"If Skyfall was an unrelenting car chase through the confined streets of London, 'Spectre' is a slightly slower-paced ride through the country, with some great moments and some that are more relaxed," he wrote. "There are many layers to this film, and it could probably do with more viewings to fully appreciate what Mendes and his team have delivered. Even now, as we type this under two hours after the credits have rolled, our minds are thinking back to what we’ve experienced, and we’re liking it all the more. Some truly exceptional work."
Whichever side of the "Spectre" spectrum one falls on, many are projecting the Bond movie to be a big success at the box office with an opening weekend that could rake in as much as $80 million.
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