Saturday, November 7, 2015

In Theatres: Spectre (2015)

If Daniel Craig had been serious about turning in his license to kill as Agent 007, James Bond, then his 4th go-round, "Spectre", sees him going out with a figurative bang.

Director Sam Mendes tied in elements from the last three films ("Casino Royale", "Quantum of Solace", & "Skyfall") into "Spectre" to create an overarching storyline that reintroduced Spectre as a criminal organization, one not seen since the non-canonical Sean Connery film, "Never Say Never Again", in 1983. There had been some litigation issues involving the rights to Spectre and 1965's "Thunderball" that had precluded the use of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and company for several years, which is why Blofeld wasn't a factor at all during the Timothy Dalton & Pierce Brosnan eras of Bond in the 80's & 90's.

Anyway, the film starts with Bond in Mexico on an unofficial mission during the Day of the Dead festivities, which makes the timing of "Spectre"'s release even more coincidental, what with Halloween being last week. I digress. Let's just put it this way. Bond makes a mess. Word gets back to his boss, M (Ralph Fiennes), who orders Bond to stand down. Turns out the previous M (Judi Dench in a video cameo) had given Bond his marching orders just before she was killed in "Skyfall". Defiant, Bond's next stop is Rome. Meanwhile, it turns out that the united MI5 & MI6 are being undermined by plans to bring British intelligence into the 21st century----by phasing out the 00 program, and putting Bond out of business.

When we first see Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), he's working under the guise of Franz Oberhauser, who supposedly had perished in an avalanche 20 years ago. Somehow, he's able to detect Bond's presence at a meeting. Putting out a call for a new hired assassin, Blofeld/Oberhauser is introduced to the dapper, silent, but brutal Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista, "Guardians of the Galaxy"), who, incidentally, is never mentioned by name in the movie, an oversight in the script. What the writers were hoping for was a secondary villain in the mold of old school Bond foes Oddjob (Harold Sakata) and Jaws (Richard Kiel). Unfortunately, it seems that Hinx ends up one and done, but you know what they say about finding a body.......! Suffice to say, even though it seems his final scene was just that, I suspect the ringing of millions of cash registers at the box office could impact the prospect of a return. Money talking and all that.

Without saying much more, while there is the chance that Blofeld could return in a subsequent follow-up, the film's ending suggests that, yes, this might be it for Craig, as Bond rides off into the sunset with a lovely "Bond girl" at his side.

Rather than bore you with showcasing the trailer as usual, we'll focus instead on the theme song, "Writing's on the Wall", by Sam Smith, which incorporates film footage.


"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part 2" (Nov. 20): Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, et al return. Feeling underwhelmed yet?

"The 33" (Nov. 13): Fact-based story of the Chilean miners who were buried alive in a cave-in 5 years ago, and the subsequent rescue effort.

"Room" (Nov. 20).  Not my cup of tea. Let's just put it that way.

"Spectre" gets an A-.

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