Spectre is sloppier than other recent Bonds, but it also feels like it's exhausted the idea that fueled the franchise's relaunch -- darker and more realistic can only last so long when it's paired with a rotating cast of Bond girls and supervillains.
I regard it as a ravishing exercise in near-despair, with Bond beset by the suspicion that, were he to desist, both his character and his cause would be unmasked as a void. Killing is his living, and his proof of life.
Dazzles early and fizzles late...Bond is not Batman; he does not need an origin story.
There are signs of Bond bloat within many of the action sequences - it must be hard to trim such extravagant footage - but they are at least partly overcome by an increase in levity.
If one of the most successful and long-running franchises in movie history wants to keep pumping, it's once again time to change the formula.
For the most part, it's efficient-enough Bond fare - overlong car chases, beautiful women in eternal danger, crazy stunts, suave cool under fire. Nice fitting suits.
In the end, this solid Bond does justice to the character's long legacy while paying due diligence to what he has become under Daniel Craig's stewardship.
The result is fun, even if it's a mishmash, leaving you shaken, not stirred.
By the time Spectre reaches its conclusion, the backstory has become so fraught, the motives so unclear, and the layers of scheming by the villains so convoluted that it's exhausting.