With Spectre, Nobody Does It Better Than James Bond
ON the heels of the billion dollar box office receipts for Skyfall, Sam Mendes’ excellent, bittersweet Bond debut, it became rather inevitable that for the next merry go round, Eon Productions and MGM would spare no expense to give Her Majesty’s favourite spy a befitting outing.
For 007 number 24, Mendes is back at the helm — the first person to direct back to back James Bond films since John Glen cracked five out in the eighties, beginning with For Your Eyes Only — and he has been handed a war chest worth of $300 million to make things happen.
Daniel Craig, the brooding, unsmiling English actor is back for his fourth (and maybe final) turn as Bond. The screenwriting team behind Skyfall also makes a return here with the addition of playwright, Jez Butterworth.
Other Bond returnees here are Ralph Fiennes, replacing Dame Judi Dench as spymaster M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Ben Whishaw as Q. Playing the compulsory larger than life villain is two-time Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz.
Every dollar of Spectre’s ostentatious budget shows up on screen. From the multi-continent locations (Mexico, Austria, Morocco) to the death defying stunt sequences, inventive gadgetry on display and sartorial splendour, no expense has been spared. But more money doesn’t always translate to superior quality and while Spectre packs all the glory, thrills and excitement of a high-octane actioner and Bond franchise in one bloated package, its biggest demerit and unfortunate drawback is that it follows 2012’s redoubtable Skyfall.
For Spectre, Mendes plays it straight and goes back to the basis of Bond filmmaking 101. Returning are all the elements of film iconography that is sure to please the fanboys and girls. The hero – unburdened by personal demons, techie demonstrations by Q, choice of poison (shaken not stirred), iconic introduction (Bond. James Bond); double dose of Bond girls to be romanced and discarded, cars, gadgets, and explosions – everything is back.
Bond is fun again!
The film begins shortly after the events of Skyfall. Acting on a tip, Bond is on the trail of a terrorist, without his superior’s orders, that leads him to a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City. Staging one of the biggest set pieces in franchise history, Mendes takes his hero on an adventure that explodes into a gun totting, helicopter chasing stunt spectacle that opens the show beautifully, while setting the stage for more to come.
Bond follows the body trail to a frigid, not so grieving widow (Monica Bellucci), a rogue assassin in the twilight of his life, his mysterious daughter, Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) and a giant, hydra headed shadow operation that gives the film its title. He also comes face to face with his nemesis, Franz Oberhauser (Waltz), a figure from his past that attempts to tie up plot lines from the past three films. Meanwhile, back at home, a shifty politician attempts to once again do away with the 00 programme entirely, while ushering the era of big data and worldwide surveillance.