To switch obsessive Craig theme for a moment, from Colin to Daniel, I went and saw the 2015 instalment of James Bond 007 this week “Spectre” in a packed cinema. (With the Colin version, I feel I’m also watching a movie perhaps even in it: a black tragi-comedy).
The opening Spectre sequence is a bit creepy; naked dancing women caressed by embracing erotic inky black octopus tentacles in the style of Hans Ruedi Giger. It suits more Octopussy and Goldfinger than Spectre. Perhaps it’s a hat tip to those two past Bond films. But haven’t we moved past that 70s misogyny of women as dehumanized sex objects? No faces on these babes, just thighs and curves.
The modern Craig Bond movies (this is Daniel’s fourth) all begin with a hallmark opening chase scene (remember the chase up the construction crane?). This is no exception but has creative twists. There is a chase by… walking, and through a crowd of close-packed people.
After an opening hint of the Bond music, the movie starts typewriter font on black screen “The Dead…[pause]…are living.” Then BOOM we’re plunged in to the midst of the Mexico City Day of the Dead festival amidst floats and crowds wearing skeleton masks (Mardi Gras meets the grave). Bond is about to bed his seductive Mexican beauty but slips instead out the balcony window, as ya do, walks casually across the rooftops bringing his cool laser assassin gun in to kill mode as the dead pass below; kills two guys in a building opposite before a bomb unexpectedly goes off; building collapses almost on top of Bond and the chase is on. And then, oh boy, it cranks up with a helicopter fight above a stadium filled with skeleton people worshipping gigantic skull floats. Dramatic EXCELLENT opening in the Craig genre. 10/10.
Spectre has the usual international conspiracy; a secret Illuminati organisation (“SPECTRE”) taking over the world (see your Bond history). It’s CEO is revealed in dramatic back-lit fashion after a prospect has his eyes squashed out by a heavy (Mr Hinx) with metal finger nails (like Jaws with his metal teeth in The Spy who Loved Me;or Oddjob with his steel-rimmed death hat in Goldfinger). Hinx pursues Bond throughout the movie (oh and the girl of course). He’s as broad as an oak tree but has those metrosexual fingernails. Every self-respecting SNAG should.
We traverse Mexico City, the Tunisian desert, the Austrian Alps, London and the Thames as well as Rome. Nice Bond city cinematography tick box. I like the London scenes (James’ eternally unpacked flat; Thames-side modern architecture) and we get a lot more British M15, M16 and the ’00’ programme, ‘M’ (who as Judy Dench posthumously commissions Bond’s current mission, “If I’m dead, Bond, don’t miss the funeral in Mexico City”). There’s ‘Q’ and ‘C’ and all that.
Ralph Fiennes plays Bond’s very British boss ‘M’ (Dench’s’ successor) defending democracy and on-the-ground Intelligence against a rising technologically distracted surveillance mega-Geek ‘C.’ He’s an amalgamation upstart establishing a Joint Intelligence Service consisting of the recently merged MI5 and MI6. ‘C’ campaigns for Britain to join “Nine Eyes,” a global surveillance and intelligence co-operation initiative between nine member states, and uses his influence to close down the ’00’ programme.
[SPOILER] he’s actually in league with Big Baddy (combining the intelligence of nine nations which will be hacked and controlled by SPECTRE, a veiled ref. to the real “Five Eyes” agreement? ‘M’ and Bond covertly fight a geo-political all-seeing”Big Brother” and defend British sovereignty. “Ru-uuule Britannia…” I’m air punching in the dark. I always want accountability and the human factor. If you’re gonna play dirty spies, it has to be done with manners.
Bond has traceable blood fused in to him by ‘Q’ so he can be tracked by Her Majesty’s Secret Service after several roque operations which created political problems for the Home Secretary.
There are some great extended punch-up scenes (in a train; in a helicopter; in an exploding building, on boats; and one of those nasty protracted medical psychopath torture sessions in an impeccably clean white room with eyeball drills, similar to Dragon Tattoo).
There is a great scene in the rigged for demolition old HQ of M15/6 (ruined in the bomb blast in Skyfall) when target practice posters flip round with James’ face on them and he passes illuminated ante-rooms show-casing recent dead Bond characters put there by Big Baddy. I would have liked these to have been past 007s i.e. Connery, Brosnan etc. Nevertheless, Spectre has some great retro nostalgia. For example, SPECTRE first appeared in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and the Octopus ring central in this movie, inOctopussy (1983). So this latest outing ties several old Bond movie themes together as well as story-cycles. Tick.
The Bond back story is finally completed (hooray I hate it when things are left unresolved, like the entire LOST series). James’ dark past is revealed; Why ‘M’ (Judy Dench) was killed and by whom and for what purpose. Turns out [SPOILER] that James was adopted as an orphan but German step dad preferred James’ blue eyes to his real German son who has nursed a psychopathic grudge ever since and killed off all James’ Bond girls, including ‘M,’ to ruin his life. “It was me all along James, to give you a life of pain.” Boys need their Daddies attention.
There’s a nice play on the classic James Bond original Austin Martin (Goldfinger andThunderball; which recently sold for $4.4 million) and perhaps a hint at the end that this is the last of Bond and the departure of Daniel Craig.
Big Baddy is revealed as ‘Ernst Stavro Blofeld‘ aka Franz Oberhauser and is here presented as the ULTIMATE Bond villain. I’m not clear after a first watch if Franz has taken on the persona of this well-known previous Bond villain (the inspiration for Dr Evil in SpyWhoShaggedMe) or whether he was him all along. Franz receives the same eye scar as the classic Blofeld/Dr Evil fiend. He is rather ordinary till James’ up-scars his face and eye with a clever ‘C’ device while Bond is being tortured. He then becomes a much more suitable Big Baddy with a poppy dead eye and facial scar to Bond’s square jaw good looks. Bond: “Ouch, that must hurt!”
A nice script quirk in that at the end James’ chooses justice over guns after his woman has worked on him psychologically. This is a visual romp but it’s well-worn James Bond franchise.
I enjoyed Spectre but this line from the film perhaps sums it all up, “James what would you do if you stopped?” “Stopped? I don’t know.”
And that’s the thing. Bond has no life. It’s just all – to requote the film- “liars and killers…liars and killers” and at some point we need something more. Not sure how long James can keep on running, jumping, shooting, ‘C’ inventing, and fighting global conspiracies. It gets a bit “m-eh.”
Great “Shaken not stirred” dialogue at a bar at an Austrian alpine celebrity clinic. “I’m sorry sir, we don’t serve alcohol here.” Later “Do me a favor. Tip this organic fruit shaky thing down the toilet and bypass the middle man.”
There’s a few red herrings [SPOILER] : “the Pale King” is “Mr White” who introduces us to the ‘Bond Girl,’ the daughter of one of Bond’s nemesis’ who has to now protect her “because he gave his word” and sealed it by passing over his loaded Bond pistol to the bad guy who could shoot him or trust him.
I’d like to see James in the future reworked back in to the conventional Her Majesty’s Secret Service 007 assassin; maybe do a retro 1950s -look movie. The new stuff is fun but it’s starting to lack soul and purpose. We can only take so many cars crashing in to canals, zooming down luscious old Roman street steps (ala Bourne Identity etc) it’s all been done before so many times.
This is the cast with Moneypenny on the left and the Big Bad Guy (Franz Oberhauser) on the right.
YUP and NUP
‘Q’ (Quartermaster) has not really worked well recently: John Cleese and this guy (above right Ben Wishaw) a younger cardie wearing be-spectacled British computer geek). Inventors are really old guys and I’d like to return to an older, perhaps retired 007, who is a whizz at making ever so British things like Dam Busting Bouncing Bombs and RADAR and magnetic mines and stuff. Desmond Llewelyn was a great ‘Q’ seen here in Octopussy in 1983 (above left).
Spectre has implausible falls and leaps and crashes without wrinkling fabulous suits (as we love with James Bond) but it’s plausible enough not to laugh out loud which I did once or twice, like when he fell several stories in a collapsing building only to land on a well-placed sofa. The British have all the lucky escapes (Dunkirk, Gallipoli).
But what I do like is the British counter to Americana BIG GUN IS BEST with James in his impeccable suit and wee suit pocket aesthetic Walther PPK pistol. A deadly cigarette case.
Spectre is classic Bond and a visual fast-paced feast. So go see it but the next James Bond has to turn over some new leaves or corners if we aren’t to get bored with the modern James Bond franchise.
I liked this but not as much as Craig’s first and second outings Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) but more than number three Skyfall(2012). This is Craig’s fourth Bonding. Actually we’d have to throw one of my favourite ‘Bond’ movies in here, the in-between 2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo also starring Craig. He may as well have been Bond. It’s brilliant.
I give this a 6.5 + 0.5 for the opening Death Festival sequence and the opening chase, so maybe up to a 7/10.
We were shaken, but not stirred. ~ John Stringer (Christchurch)
Here’s one of the trailers…