Spectre, rated PG-13
This is Daniel Craig’s fourth film in which he plays 007 James Bond. This is also his first film role since 2012’s Skyfall. He’s my favorite Bond, behind Sir Sean Connery of course. This was the movie I was most looking forward to this year, and despite being overly long at 148 minutes, it did not disappoint.
The twenty-fourth Bond film is full of all that we love in a Bond film – a great opening scene, cars (Bond’s new car is an Aston Martin DB10), scenery (shot in five countries – England, Austria, Mexico, Morocco and Italy), “Bond girls”, incredible stunts, good use of special effects and that distinctive Bond music by 6-time Grammy winner Thomas Newman. Sam Smith sings the movie’s theme song “The Writing’s On The Wall”.
The film is directed by Sam Mendes (Oscar winner for American Beauty), and who also directed the previous Bond film, Skyfall. The screenplay is not from a novel written by Bond creator Ian Fleming. The film was rumored to be well over-budget, costing approximately $350 million to make, and is projected to make $80 million in the U.S. its opening weekend.
The film opens with Bond on a rogue mission in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead parade, leading to an incredible opening scene in typical Bond fashion. He will then head to Rome, where he meets Lucia (Monica Bellucci), newly a widow of an infamous criminal. At fifty years of age, Italian actress Bellucci is the oldest actress to play a leading Bond Girl role. Bellucci had screen-tested for one of the two leading Bond Girl roles, as Paris Carver, in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies.
We then see Bond infiltrate a secret meeting and uncover the existence of the criminal organization known as SPECTRE, led by Franz Oberhauser (also known as Ernst Stavro Blofeld from You Only Live Twice). Oberhauser is played by two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (for Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained).
The first James Bond film to feature the SPECTRE criminal organization was 1962’s Dr. No.
Back in London, Max Denbigh or C, the new head of the Centre of National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the value of MI-6 led by M (Ralph Fiennes). He has his own secret motivations for doing so. Andrew Scott portrays C/Max Denbigh (James Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis in the PBS series Sherlock).
Bond works with Moneypenny (Naomie Harris, who portrayed Nelson Mandela’s wife Winnie in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) and Q (Ben Whishaw), to help him seek out Madelein Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White (Jesper Christensen, who also appeared as the character in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace), who may be able to help him with SPECTRE. As Bond ventures toward the heart of SPECTRE, he discovers a chilling connection between himself and the enemy (Christoph Waltz) he seeks.
Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy) and the fourth actor with a professional wrestling background to play a Bond villain, portrays the imposing Mr. Hinx, who pursues Bond in an exciting Rome chase scene between Bond’s Aston Martin DB10 and Mr. Hinx’s Jaguar C-X75, and in a fight scene on a passenger train.
The film allegedly pays homage to all of the previous films. While I can’t confirm that, I know that the ski resort setting in Solden, Austria reminded me a lot of the Piz Gloria mountain peak hideout of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas) in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which we visited earlier this year on a trip to Switzerland.
The film is rated PG-13 for a relatively small amount of adult language (based on current PG-13 standards), including some abuses of God’s and Jesus’s names, typical Bond-style violence (gun fights, explosions, car chases) and some sexuality.
We felt that the film was about 30 minutes too long. Despite that, Spectre is my favorite film of the year thus far.