YOU know his name. You know his number. And now he’s back for another round of vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred), guns, beautiful women, fast cars and spy thriller action.
The iconic super spy James Bond 007 makes a triumphant return in his 24th official outing Spectre. Daniel Craig returns for the fourth time as a grittier and more human Bond after appearing in the excellent Casino Royale, a series reboot, the lackluster Quantum of Solace and the superb Skyfall (cue the Oscar winning Adele song).
But before I go any further a SPOILER ALERT is in effect. Let’s get to it:
The name of the film is a reference to the evil organisation encountered by first Bond actor Sean Connery in the very first Bond film Dr No way back in 1962. At the time it was the acronym SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and Bond would go on to battle the evil organisation and its mysterious cat-loving leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld in five more films.
In the 2015 film Spectre makes a return, no acronym this time, and the shadowy organisation is led by Franz Oberhauser played by the brilliant and Academy Award-winning Christoph Waltz. Now I have only seen Waltz in three films to date – Inglourious Basterds,Django Unchained and Spectre – but he is already one of my favorite actors. The man is electric and every word of dialogue is like poetry. In Spectre he gives a villain portrayal so understated and so muted yet so diabolical that it is terrifying. He steals every scene that he is in and you hang off of every word; definitely one of the best Bond villains of all time though sadly he does not get enough screen time.
While Oberhauser battles with his mind and strategy Daniel Craig’s Bond faces his greatest physical challenge from super strong mute henchman Mr Hinx, played by wrestler Dave Bautista who gave a surprisingly great performance in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Hinx is a throwback to old Bond villains like Jaws and Oddjob as he takes a licking but keeps on coming Terminator-style. Mr Hinx is also involved in a car chase scene with Bond, driving a sexy Aston Martin DB10, which would make The Fast and the Furious franchise jealous. The Aston Martin is also tricked out with gadgets which is a nod to pre-Craig Bond flicks. This movie is replete with winks to classic Bond films which is enjoyable to longtime fans like myself.
And now on to the new. A major difference with Craig’s Bond and previous portrayals of the character is how much they delve into the psyche of the protagonist. This is a man who is a paid government assassin. What effect does that have on someone? Spectre focuses in on that in a way that has not been done before, though it has been hinted at previously, and Craig must be commended for giving the stone cold killer a bit of heart.
And speaking of heart the woman who steals it in this movie is French actress Léa Seydoux who plays the character Dr Madeleine Swann. I’ve always said the best Bond films have the strongest Bond “girls” and Seydoux imbues her character with layers and great inner strength. On the flip side is Monica Belucci’s character who, while in some visually interesting scenes, does little more than sleep with Bond and give him some information.
On the topic of characters Spectre also differs from most Bond films by giving the side characters more to do. MI6 boss M (Ralph Fiennes), M’s assistant Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and MI6 quartermaster Q (Ben Whishaw) all get some scenes to shine in and feel like more than cameos.
The movie is about two and a half hours long but with all the action and plot twists the runtime really flies. It would be remiss of me not to highlight the opening scene. Director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”, “Road to Perdition” and the last Bond film Skyfall) knows how to shoot a beautiful scene and the start of this film is like eye porn. Spectre begins in Mexico City during the Mexican holiday “Día de Muertos” or “day of the dead”. The cinematography is gorgeous and there is a slow build to an action packed scene involving a foot chase and a thrilling helicopter fight.
As a huge Bond fan and just as a lover of films I had a great time with Spectre. While not on the same level as the near perfect Casino Royale and a bit less memorable than Skyfall, Spectre is a wonderful watch and worth seeing more than once.
Rating – Spectre gets three mango vodka martinis, shaken and never stirred, out of four.
So have you seen Spectre? What did you think of it? And what’s your favorite Bond flick? Feel free to comment below.
For my ranking of the Top 6 Bond actors you can click here. And for more movie reviews that will leave you shaken but not stirred you can follow me on Twitter @suprememango012.