The 24rd Bond film, “Spectre” deftly but subtly nods to the past 50 odd years while portraying a more contemporary Bond than the Bond of the past. The film transitions Bond into a new world, and accordingly, many of his previous associates and logistics are in the process of age renewal.
At 47 years of age with greying whiskers, Daniel Craig is getting a little long in the tooth for the rigors of this kind of physical action, but he does an excellent interpretation of an aging Bond with all of his inadequacies rising very conspicuously to the surface.
Having seen all 50 years of Bond- the first one (Dr. No) as a high school student in 1962, (six years before Daniel Craig was born), allow me to point out some of the more interesting accouterments of Mr. Bond’s past.
In “Dr. No” (1962), Sean Connery flashed a brand new style of wristwatch in one of the action scenes, a black face Rolex Submariner. This was a radical departure for wrist wear and ushered in the era of “sport watches”. I lusted so heavily for one I drooled for years, but they cost US$200.00 in the early 60s, a lot of money from a watch. It was years later when I finally obtained one and I wore it for many years. It is still a superb timepiece, and phenomenally expensive now.
In “SPECTRE” Bond wears an Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre Wristwatch, a limited edition created only for Daniel Craig. Only 7007 made. US$7500 if you want one.
1964’s “Goldfinger” introduced the ”Bond Car”, a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 replete with numerous gadgets, including a rudimentary GPS screen, passenger ejection seat and revolving license plates. Jerry Lee, Owner of WBEB Radio in Philadelphia, PA originally bought the car from the Aston Martin Company in 1969 for US$12,000. The DB5 was sold for 2,600,000 British Pounds Sterling in 2010. The silver car in mint condition is still capable of 145mph and most the gadgets still work.
For “SPECTRE”, a new Aston Martin DB10s is introduced, one of only ten made. Zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. This car will not be offered to the well-heeled public but one of the DB10s will be auctioned next year at an undisclosed asking price.
Bond is nothing if not clad in cool gear. Daniel Craig wears a dark charcoal grey fine gauge mock turtleneck made of cashmere and silk from British company N.Peal, reminiscent of Steve McQueen in “Bullitt” (1968). The list of Bond fashions goes on and on:
“SPECTRE” offers up a much more unsympathetic version of Bond’s basic persona than that idealized in the past. I get the distinct impression that Daniel Craig does NOT personally like his character and goes way of his way to portray him as a sociopathic sadist more than any previous 007. An Armani suited pathological narcissist who came in from the cold.
It’s magnificently filmed in Mexico City during the “Day of the Dead” celebration. The breathtaking opening scene begins with the predictable demolition derby leaving a trail of carnage that would make Quentin Tarantino consider retirement. After being grounded by “M”, Bond goes rogue, travelling to various beautiful European spots to track down the “Source of all his pain”, impeccably villainous Christolph Waltz and his evil organization “Spectre”, reviving a piece of 007 folklore dating back to the Sean Connery era.
Although It’s the most expensive 007 movie to date, at $250 million, “Spectre” is not as good as “Skyfall”. The film does explore new millennium questions of cyber-security, data privacy, and government authority, although somewhat simplistically. It’s too long at 148 minutes. The final hour is rather bloated with too many predictable plot twists and too many contrived characters. “The script of SPECTRE” is suspiciously close to the plot of “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” (2015).
I think two things about James and his films:
- I think James is an anachronism of the past and needs to fade away, much like Jack Bauer. The entire scenario of licensing to kill on the whims of secret government organizations, improbable gadgets and always getting the girl has run its course. It’s all post –facto cold war stuff and this really is a new world with more politically correct people and institutions in it. James would be busted by ten cops during the first three minutes of his films, tasered then shot dead and a grand jury would hold that the officers had valid justification.
- I think the next James Bond will be a dumpy, mixed lineage transsexual with a “license to ill”, riding around in a rusted 1982 Ford Taurus shaking his (her) finger at passersby doing blatantly illegal things like sprinkling their lawn during a drought. In the pre-credits opening-scene, the screen will suddenly burst open and thousands of hungry, molten, pan sexual, meat eating, disease bloated monster snails will erupt and swarm over the audience before they could stagger to the door, which was locked anyway by someone who was also gummed up and eaten while screaming for help.
I give it three and a half of five shaken, not stirred martinis, professionally watered down by the bartender at a “no tip” watering hole in New York City.