When Daniel Craig joined the James Bond franchise, the whole character changed and the storyline showed a grittier, darker, vulnerable side to the films, especially with Skyfall. But the newest entry, Spectre, decided to go back to basics and employ the overused formula seen time and again in the franchise.
The film follows Bond still recovering mentally after the events of Skyfall, as he tracks a secret organization named SPECTRE that has had a bigger involvement in his career than he's realized. Bond must protect Mr. White's daughter, Dr. Madeleine Swann, from the organization and its leader, Franz Oberhauser.
The plot feels like another smart Craig entry, but as it progresses it retreats back into the same formula seen in too many of the previous 007 entries. The opening action sequence's motive was literally to retrieve one item, with the character Bond was chasing ending up dead, and James' only real consequence being a suspension (which has happened too many times to count).
There are so many other formulaic moments in the film, including Bond sleeping with Madeleine after killing Mr. Hinx and Bond destroying the Aston Martin (yet again).
Even the main villain's "death" was predictable and done too many times, with the big explosion to fake his death feeling ridiculous and excessive.
Outside of the reliance on 007 formula, the film is still a great piece of work, with incredible action sequences, phenomenal direction from Sam Mendes (again), and great performances from the cast, especially Craig, Christoph Waltz and Léa Seydoux.
Craig continues to show his strength in the lead role of Bond in this film, though doesn't show as much vulnerability as the last two films. While there are a few moments where we see Bond open up to Ms. Moneypenny and Madeleine, we see the closed-off and secretive side of Bond that Craig has not portrayed yet.
Waltz successfully embodies his villainous persona (once again) as the lead antagonist of Bond. He knows just how to push Bond's buttons and toy with him as he makes James jump through hoops and try to solve the mystery of his character's background.
While Seydoux's Madeleine feels more like the Bond girls of the past compared to Naomie Harris' ass-kicking Moneypenny, she still brings a little extra strength and a lot more heart than other past Bond girls.
Overall, Spectre's action sequences, performances and direction help to make up for the plot's tired retread of old 007 formula.