Saturday, November 28, 2015

Spectre: Bond's Past Comes Calling

The James Bond series hit a high water mark with the 2012 release of Skyfall. The movie celebrated the 50th anniversary of the long-running franchise with a gripping, action packed tale. The film managed to have a strong emotional element as well, and seemed to bring Bond’s origin story (as re-imagined in the Daniel Craig led entries that began with 2006’s Casino Royale) to a close. At the climax of the movie, the template was set to move the series forward with new adventures steeped in 007 tradition, including the return of some classic elements of the previous era, like Miss Moneypenny. Now the latest film in the series, Spectre, brings a wall-known Bond villain back into the forefront of the series, and digs a bit deeper into 007’s past.

The movie opens with a thrilling chase set in Mexico City during the Day of The Dead festival, as Bond hunts down an assassin. The scene is done in one long tracking shot, and director Sam Mendes does an amazing job orchestrating the sequence. It’s one of the best “teasers” of the series. Bond gets his man, but when he returns to London, we learn the mission wasn’t sanctioned, and M suspends him. Bond has very personal reasons for his actions, and continues his own investigation of the assassin’s mysterious terrorist organization. Meanwhile, a top-level bureaucrat in MI5 is planning to close down the Double O section, and use a new worldwide surveillance system to keep the peace. Bond, M, and their entire team may be out of a job. 

Bond continues to follow his leads, and he infiltrates the organization, known as Spectre. As he tries to get further inside the group, he meets a familiar enemy; Mr. White, from Casino Royale & Quantum of Solace. White gives him information on the organization, but asks Bond to protect his daughter, who will be targeted by the group because he helped Bond. Once 007 gets to the heart of Spectre, he finds that their leader is someone who has ties to his past, and has specific plans for vengeance against our hero. It’s a villain who will be very familiar to long-time Bond fans, just like Spectre itself. Just how far (and how deep) does Spectre’s reach go? Have they infiltrated the government? Will the new surveillance system mean the end of Bond’s days an agent? Its a fast-paced, exciting and well-produced movie. You get everything you expect from a Bond film: globe-hopping adventure, gadgets, nefarious villains & beautiful women. 

While the screenwriters stretch things a bit trying to tie together all of Craig’s films into a single story, there are some spectacular action sequences, and the many nods/Easter eggs to classic Bond lore make this a sure bet for 007 aficionados. It’s a film that recalls the large-scale vistas of Dr. No & You Only Live Twice, but also the tough, lean espionage action of From Russia With LoveSpectre is a well-made movie that should please fans of the series. While it doesn't quite reach the heights of Casino Royale or Skyfall, it's a solid entry in the adventures of our favorite British agent. There are reports that this may be Daniel Craig’s swan song as Bond (though no official announcement has been made) so it will be interesting to see where the series goes next. I’ve purposely not given away too much of the plot specifics so you can enjoy the film on your first viewing. Spectre is currently in theaters. Here’s a link to the trailer:

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