Yesterday Never Dies
RELEASED OUT NOW!
12A | 148 minutes
Director sam Mendes
Cast daniel Craig, léa seydoux,
Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw
Sweet, merciful Broccoli! James Bond’s signature gunbarrel sequence is back at the beginning of the movie. For some, a minor creative decision. For others, an essential part of the Bond ritual, the pulsing white dot in the darkness that promises rather than completes two plus hours of high-glamour mayhem. It’s a clear signal that SPECTRE is chasing a style as classic, as trad, as 007’s bespoke Jermyn Street shirts.
The 24th film in the superspy franchise plays as a perfect hybrid of vintage Bond panache and Daniel Craig-era grit. There are overfamiliar echoes of Skyfall in its Whitehall politicking – MI6 faces “the biggest shake-up in the history of British Intelligence” and there’s talk, again, of Bond being a relic – but there’s a grander sweep to director Sam Mendes’s encore, an even greater willingness to engage with the franchise’s legacy, even the parts long ago kidnapped by parodists and spoof-merchants.
Adored clichés are dusted down with glee: brutal fights on luxury trains, sinister lairs in astonishing geographical locations, a gadget-laden dream car. There’s a glorious moment during a thrilling nocturnal chase around Rome that has an unapologetic touch of the Roger Moores, stopping just short of a Union Jack parachute.
Craig embraces the slyer, dryer tone – he’s never been more dapper, more insouciant – but he also nails Bond’s alternating currents of light and dark, cynically seducing a widow (Monica Bellucci, hideously underused) while chivalrously protecting the daughter of an old enemy (Léa Seydoux, bringing intensity and fragility to a Bond girl with rare psychological depth).
SPECTRE, self-evidently, also reactivates Bond’s most archetypal menace, unseen for decades. All shadows, suits and summary executions, they’ve updated their operation to include counterfeit pharmaceuticals and human trafficking. Christoph Waltz is silky and smiley as their head, Franz Oberhauser, a man whose masterplan trades on Snowdenera paranoia over intelligence gathering, a threat possibly a touch too conceptual for a film evoking the glory days of orbital lasers.
Mendes gives a romantic shimmer to Bond’s world, transporting us from a macabre street festival in Mexico to vertiginous Austrian peaks to the sun-bleached souks of Tangier. A shot of a vintage Rolls traversing an empty North African desert has an authentic Fleming weirdness. And, naturally, there’s cinemarattling action to spare, launching with an audacious pre-titles helicopter stunt.
But there’s a heart beneath the shoulder holster. Completing the emotional journey begun in Casino Royale, SPECTRE is, ultimately, about saving the man, not the world; earning a licence to live, not kill. Craig’s future may be uncertain but one thing we know: as much as the opening gunbarrel is a key part of Bond tradition so, too, is that final, indestructible promise: James Bond will return. Nick Setchfield
Look for the name on the safehouse door: it’s a nod to Ian Fleming’s Playboy short story “The Hildebrand Rarity”.
There’s a heart beneath the shoulder holster
Do not throw a snowball at this man.