As the new year kicked in we finally got around to watching the latest James Bond movie. The twenty-fourth official Bond film, “Spectre” was directed by Sam Mendes (“Skyfall”, “Revolutionary Road”).
The film opens in Mexico City on Día De Muertos (the Day Of The Dead), with the streets filled with people wearing fantastic costumes and elaborate masks. One masked couple head for a hotel room and when the woman, Estrella (Stephanie Sigman – “Miss Bala”, “Pioneer”) reclines on the bed she is surprised to find her companion leaving via the balcony.
He is, of course, James Bond (Daniel Craig – “Casino Royale”, “Layer Cake”) and is heading off to intercept a group of men planning a terrorist bombing at a football stadium. One of the men, Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona – “L’affare Bonnard”, “Malèna”), manages to escape so Bond has to pursue him – leading to a deadly confrontation above the celebrating crowds.
When he returns to London, Bond is suspended from field operations by M (Ralph Fiennes – “The Invisible Woman”, “Skyfall”) over his actions in Mexico and ordered to stay in London.
However, with some unofficial help from both Q (Ben Whishaw – “The Danish Girl”, “The Lobster”) and Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris – “Southpaw”, “Street Kings”), Bond travels instead to Rome.
In Rome Bond attends Sciarra’s funeral where he meets Sciarra’s widow, Lucia (Monica Bellucci – “Irreversible”, “Don’t Look Back”) and obtains information on a shadowy criminal organisation that her husband had belonged to.
Infiltrating a meeting of this organisation Bond is able to identify the leader as a man long-thought to be dead, Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz – “Inglourious Basterds”, “Horrible Bosses 2”) and subsequently travels on to Austria where he tracks down Mr. White (Jesper Christensen – “Quantum Of Solace”, “The Last Sentence”).
Meanwhile, in London M is battling with C (Andrew Scott – “Sherlock”, “Dead Bodies”) the head of the Joint Intelligence Service, made up of the newly-merged MI5 and MI6, who is on a mission to sign Britain up to a global intelligence sharing system and to close down the 00 section.
In Austria Bond finds himself promising to locate and protect White’s daughter, Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux – “Mission : Impossible – Ghost Protocol”, “Diary Of A Chambermaid”). Madeline reveals that Oberhauser’s organisation is called Spectre and the pair set off to Morocco in an effort to find and thwart Oberhauser…
The film essentially picks up where “Skyfall” left off, with Fiennes as the new M and the MI6 building awaiting demolition as a result of events in the earlier film. In addition, the plot brings together different aspects of the three previous Craig outings as Bond.
I grew up with Roger Moore as Bond and love all of his films in the role, though obviously caught up on the Sean Connery years as well and hold those in equal affection.
When Timothy Dalton took over the reigns with “The Living Daylights” I enjoyed the move towards a tougher character and I did also enjoy Pierce Brosnan’s turns in the role too (and let’s not overlook George Lazenby’s sole outing as Bond). That said, and I realise that having been a Bond fan for so long I may be in a minority, for me Daniel Craig is the best and most convincing Bond to date.
I thought “Casino Royale” was fantastic, and “Quantum Of Solace” and “Skyfall” excellent also. So what of “Spectre”? Well, it’s not a short film, clocking in at two hours and twenty-eight minutes. Nonetheless it seemed to fly by and not drag in the slightest.
There are plenty of gripping action scenes, just the right amount of fairly subtle humour (not the wink-to-camera humour of Moore’s years for sure), and the Bond girls (or should I say women?!) are as good as ever.
The costume department have done an excellent job (in fact my wife asked if I’d had some input in this since it was so in tune with my preferences!), there are less gadgets than in some Bonds but that helps in terms of realism perhaps.
I will confess that I am not a fan of the Aston Martin DB10 used early in the movie – I felt that it looked too much like any number of any other cars – or the theme tune by Sam Smith which is a poor relation to Adele’s “Skyfall” theme and not a patch on the unused Radiohead track.
There are a couple of times where you have to apply a certain amount of suspension of disbelief but for the most part the plot – and the overall theme of intelligence gathering / spying on people – was most convincing and feels pretty topical in today’s world.
It appears that the next Bond movie will follow on directly from “Spectre” and so I do hope that Craig stays on board for at least one more outing as 007. For now, though, this is vying with “Casino Royale” as my favourite Bond film of all time…