If “Diamonds Are Forever”(the 7th film in the franchise), then James Bond has undeniably become a crown jewel; in the U.S., as well as Great Britain. For over half a century the British superspy has entertained millions of rabid fans, and adapted to every social, political, and economic zeitgeist, to become the longest running film series in cinematic history. And, so far, does not show any signs of slowing down, or stopping. As long as there are actors to play the role, James Bond may be around for another fifty years.
Daniel Craig is the sixth to inhabit the iconic role, and like his predecessors, has brought a certain uniqueness to Bond’s personality. Craig tailored Bond to rely less on Q’s gadgets (other than a pistol programmed to his palm print), and more on his instinctive wits. He exudes this novelty in his fourth outing as 007 in Spectre.
Bond 24 opens in the way all Bond fans expect, with a viscerally staged action sequence. This time our British spy is undercover, sans costume, in Mexico City, partaking in the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) fes-tivities. Once he breaks free of the celebration, it’s all out chaos in the streets, and in the air, as Bond attempts to exercise his license to kill on a man named Sciarra who plans to commit an extremely dangerous act. Not a very good idea since this course of action was not exactly authorized by Ralph Fiennes’ “M, who exacts a suitable punishment once Bond returns to London.
Naturally, this does not stop our hero from his business. But unfortunately, that “business” may be halted permanently. Seems there are concerted ef-forts to take out MI6’s 00 section completely, and replacing it with some-thing better; all masterminded by Joint Intelligence Service exec Max Denbeigh (Andrew Scott). Nevertheless, Bond is still on a mission.
It starts with personal effects from the Skyfall aftermath. The information takes our determined sleuth from the shadowy chambers of a very secret organization in Rome, and right back to his old friend, Mr. White (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) and his ravishing daughter Madeleine Swann( Lea Seydoux). But not without some “minor” resistance from Dave Bautista’s “Mr. Hinx” who, for those who remember Goldfinger, is like a moderately slimmed down version of Odd Job.
As always, in most Bond films, there’s a “bad” girl who sometimes falls under James’ spell despite what he may have done to her (think Pussy Ga-lore, again from Goldfinger). Strikingly beautiful Italian import Monica Belluci joins the elite Bond Girl Sorority as Lucia. Unfortunately, she, as other women in 007’s exploits, has limited screen time, yet appropriately harmonized by an impassioned tryst with our hero.
Then of course, there’s the “good” girl. The aforementioned Madeleine Swann, played by Mission Impossible alum Lea Seydoux (remember her as Sabine in Ghost Protocol?). Seydoux’s Swann exhibits the fiestiness of her IM Force character, encompassed by a bit more vulnerability. So it’s certainly no surprise that she falls for Bond too.
Oscar winner Christoph Waltz’s impeccable Austrian accent and classy delivery make him the perfect “Franz Oberhauser”, the ultimate impresario of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Sporting that same devilish quality he forged for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Waltz gets a huge promotion from deter-mined Nazi Colonel, to German criminal power player.
Although it’s not mentioned, SPECTRE, for non die hard 007 fans, is an acronym standing for the SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism Revenge, and Extortion. They’ve been the major proverbial thorn in Bond’s side (and everywhere else), since 1962’s Dr. No. From stealing nu-clear bombs (Thunderball) to attempting to inaugurate a little war between the U.S. and, what was then, the Soviet Union (You Only Live Twice), Ian Fleming’s fictional crime syndicate has always been as powerful as it is well structured. Bond’s last Spectre encounter was 44 years ago in the aforementioned, Diamonds Are Forever( that is if you don’t count Never Say Never Again). Spectre’s return has been long overdue making it quite a welcome relief to 007 fans the world over.