Previously on James Bond #23, SKYFALL—James Bond faced off with latest villain Raoul Silva at Skyfall, his family estate and childhood home in Scotland. Bond is there with M, the Head of the Secret Intelligence Service—also known as MI6, who is wounded by Silva and dies. Following M's funeral, Eve, an agent Bond had worked with in the field, formally introduces introducing herself to Bond. as Eve Moneypenny retires from field work to become secretary for the new head of MI6. Gareth Mallory, who had previously been the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee prior, assumes the title of M. Earlier in the film Bond is introduced to Q, the head of the research and development division of the British Secret Service, who is responsible for Bond’s gadgets. Now Bond is back in SPECTRE, the twenty-fourth James Bond film and of note for Bond fans it is Bond's first encounter with the global criminal organization (Spectre) since 1971’s DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.
I am not being a cynic when I say if you have seen one James Bond film you have seen them all. The films have followed the same formula since the first film in 1962. The film begins with an introduction to the character through the view of a gun barrel (the first traditional sequence for Craig), a pre-title action sequence that may or may not be related to the films plot. This is followed by the main title sequence which incorporate visual elements that typically reflects each film's theme, often showing silhouettes of nude or provocatively clad women set against swirling images. After the title sequence Bond typically gets a briefing on his next assignment from M and receives a briefing on the latest gadget from Q. From there Bond sets out on a globetrotting adventure wherein he tangles with villains and their henchmen, enjoys vodka martinis shaken, not stirred and sleeps with several women aka Bond Girls. All this is true of SPECTRE.
After going on a rogue mission to Mexico City, Bond receives a message that sends him to Rome, where he meets Lucia (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Eventually Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organization known as SPECTRE, headed by Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the need of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes), given the advancements of surveillance technology. Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE.
This film contains some spectacular action sequences particularly the opening sequence set during The Day of The Dead celebration in Mexico City. This is one of the franchise’s best oOpening with a unbroken shot tracking Bond and his female companion thru the streets of Mexico City during the celebration and ending with a helicopter stunt that has to be seen to be believed. The film also has an outstanding fight sequence on a train in which Bond fights with a Spectre henchman played by WWE wrestler Dave Bautista. The scene is similar to the train fight in 1963’s FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Out of all of the Daniel Craig Bond films SPECTRE most adheres to the Bond formula thus making it good but not great. This film reestablished most of the traditional aspects fans of Bond are used to and for this the film is somewhat predictable. While not as fresh as Craig’s first outing CASINO ROYALE or as good as the previous installment SKYFALL this one is if more of the same. Craig has seems seemed to warm to the role and audiences to him. Though to some Sean Connery (my namesake) is the one and only true James Bond. As with any action film it is only as good as the villain and two time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz makes a perfect villain. At this stage if one is not a Bond fan one will never ever be. Fans of Bond should enjoy it while others may find it overlong. At two and ½ hours it is now the longest of all the Bond films. James Bond will return. Hopefully the filmmakers will attempt to stray from the formula and takes some risks with the franchise.