FROM NOW / CERT. 12
Mr. Robot, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the Mr.-free Carol and 1950s misters and misses in Brooklyn all get uncomfortably close to each other in the crowded carriages of the commuter train that is this month’s Home Entertainment section.
Decadence, dirty martinis, demented globe-trotting and — maybe — Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond.
DON’T MENTION THE SONG
AT VARIOUS POINTS during its 145 minutes, Spectre delivers a baddie’s base in a hollowed-out crater, a watch that does a thing and a run-in with a comedy Italian. It hasn’t gone full safari suit, but this is another small step towards the values of Bond BC (Before Craig). If it keeps going in this direction, three more films and James Corden will be mo-capping a double-taking pigeon.
Perhaps because Skyfall was so rooted in Britain, this time Sam Mendes happily displays a demented wanderlust. Kick-started by a revenge mission gifted 007 by Judi Dench’s M, Bond hops from Mexico (the stunning Day Of The Dead opener gets a deep-dive examination in the special features) to Rome (a terrific dead-of-night car chase) to Austria (a plane becomes a sledge) to Tangiers (a bruising fist-fight on a train). Scooping up Léa Seydoux’s interesting but underutilised scientist Madeleine Swann on the way, Bond discovers that the Quantum of previous Craig films was a small-fry outfit under the umbrella organisation of Spectre, fronted by Franz Oberhauser (a dialled-down Christoph Waltz with little screen time), who we suspect might be Blofeld because he has a thing for snow-white moggies and sports a collarless jacket. 007 stenographers will have a field day chalking up references and rarities: the Rolls Royce Phantom from Goldfinger, M (Ralph Fiennes) getting his hands dirty, Q (Ben Whishaw) in a foot chase, Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) in bed with another man.
There’s even a glimpse inside Bond’s flat. Which is perhaps a good metaphor for the Craig era itself: dark and sparse, with few knick-knacks.
Spectre continues the series’ somewhat dour obsession with Bond’s backstory, grit (even the martini is dirty) and the slide towards something akin to reality. M16 is merging with MI5, digital surveillance is replacing the Double-o programme, Q has mortgage worries and Moneypenny seems a gnat’s hair away from a call about PPI. Yet simultaneously Mendes builds on Skyfall’s mission to bring back Guy Hamilton-era panache. In a series not renowned for its visual style, Hoyte van Hoytema’s luxurious cinematography takes things to a new level — watch Monica Bellucci’s widow stroll through a palatial mansion — and the whole film is suffused with a decaying decadence that mirrors Bond’s increasing obsolescence in the age of drones.
The director is also adept at bringing the lightness out in Craig. Watch him deliver deadpan quips to a mouse ˆ la Diamonds Are Forever, or effortlessly transition from parachuting to walking. Off the back of such swagger, Craig won the coveted role of Stormtrooper Mugged Off By Rey in The Force Awakens. Whether he’ll return to Bond is not yet clear. As the movie ends, the character is presented with a dilemma: a normal life or the spy life? Madeleine Swann may be an enticing proposition, but ultimately the question is surely moot. Who, come 2018, is going to pay money to see Ikea Is Not Enough?
Above: He was chuffed with another textbook landing. Below: Collarless jacket! Run!