Tuesday, November 10, 2015
James Bond and the Dirty Martini
Ian Flemming's James Bond makes his 24th appearance, at least in this franchise, in Spectre. Bond, now in the franchise's sixth incarnation played by Daniel Craig as the iconic assassin and spy, has become a grittier Bond - more of the "blunt instrument" as the character of M says. This is Craig's fourth outing as the character, and he is considered by many to be the best Bond since the original, Sean Connery. Since Craig took the role, the critics loved the first and the third and while the majority of reviews were positive for the second, it was not as well received. It is looking like this will also be the case for Spectre. The reviews are mostly positive but not the raves of Skyfall. I too must agree. Spectre is a fun movie but doesn't quite have the edge that Skyfall did.
Don't get me wrong. I am glad I saw the movie. What can I say? I am a fan of Bond...James Bond. I like the Craig films probably better than any of the Bonds of recent years quite simply because it's good to see Bond go back to his roots in a more modern world. Daniel Craig exudes charm and strength as the world's most famous misogynistic and alcoholic spy. Ralph Fiennes who replaces Judi Dench as "M" is a much more active leader of the 00 program. Ben Whishaw plays perhaps the best "Q" and like M, Q and Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris, are given more to do. The bad guy, Oberhauser/Blofeld, is played by perennial villain Christoph Waltz. He is as always the most charming and creepy psychopath in the room. We also have the henchman, Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) whose "killer thumbnails" were silly even for a Bond movie. There is also the bureaucrat, Denbigh (Andrew Scott) who is more than he seems. The love interest, Dr. Swann (Léa Seydoux) is also more than just a pretty face for Bond to bed. Finally, we can also add Monica Bellucci who, at 51, becomes officially the oldest Bond girl in franchise history.
The movie centers on the rise of Spectre a group led by the evil Blofeld. (You may remember Blofeld as the guy with the white, Persian cat who appeared in about half a dozen Bond movies including the one where he is unceremoniously dropped down a chimney at the beginning of For Your Eyes Only.) As it turns out, all the villains of the previous Daniel Craig three movies all work for Blofeld and Spectre. Bond sets our to destroy Spectre. That's pretty much the plot.
The movie has the usual over-the-top chase scenes with cars, boats, planes, and cars. It also has some astonishing real helicopter stunts. While the stunts were flown off site and then stitched into a CGI representation of Mexico City, it is still some impressive flying that was actually done just 30 feet above the 1500 extras hired for the shoot. Spectre has Bond gadgets. It has knock down, drag out fights which one scene later Bond shows no sign of having had. It has explosions and villains who are almost as difficult to kill as Bond is. It is all the things we've come to love about the exciting and often cartoon style violence of a Bond film.
It will help if you've seen the other movies, but it is not a requirement. The movie does tend to get a bit long in the middle, but this too is not a new Bond problem. This may be Craig's last time as the character, but I hope not. He really is well suited to the role. All in all, it's a fun movie and was worth the bucks.