RE.VIEW

FROM NOW / CERT. 12

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - IL­LUS­TRA­TION NOMA BAR

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!

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