Where the heck have I been? I confess that the only reason I attended an early screening of the latest James Bond film, Spectre, was because of my new “appreciation” (G-rated word here) for Daniel Craig. I’ve become a big fan since I caught him in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). I continue to devour that film every time it reruns on HBO. I even bought the DVD. When I caught wind of the rumors that Craig and Rooney Mara may re-team for the second English-language installment of the Millennium Trilogy, my heart skipped a beat; and I revisited the prospect of seeing Daniel Craig as James Bond. Yep, maybe that casting could work, too.
I haven’t seen a Bond film since the Dark Ages (aka, the Sean Connery and early Roger Moore era). For me, Bond and Connery were interchangeable. End of story. I moved on and never looked back. I shamefully dissed and unfortunately missed Daniel Craig’s run in the last three Bond films. So I came to Spectre with Craig’s performance in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on my mind.
Mea culpa! In a word, Spectre is dazzling. Bond may be working under the radar in this installment, with some malfunctioning gizmos; but the spectacle of his rogue mission is gripping, and the mood is set straight away as he maneuvers through the film’s spectacular and explosive opening sequence during a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City.
Threats to his persona and his peers in high places are, of course, not unexpected and emanate from a web of lies and betrayals. Bond’s mission takes him above, below and on top of gorgeous landscapes around the globe where he navigates breathtakingly choreographed encounters with some vicious collateral henchmen. But when Bond lands full circle back in London, he must face off with their sinister boss (a perfectly cast Christoph Waltz) who carries a painful family secret from Bond’s past.
Aside from Daniel Craig’s perfect fit as Bond (and that includes his natty, form-fitting, wrinkle-free suits!), there are other big surprises to relish: Bond’s women–Moneypenny (Naomie Harris); his romantic interest, Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux); and even the beautiful older widow of an adversary, Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci)–are independent, strong-minded collaborators and not sexy window-dressing.
Kudos to director Sam Mendes for orchestrating this complex action-adventure and to his production team for their classy set and costume design and breathtaking cinematography, all of which envelope their cool, taciturn hero and star in just the right light and shade.
If you’ve had your fill of schlocky, super hero films featuring mind-numbing explosions and mindless cartoon characters, be sure not to miss Spectre. The storyline and Bond’s facile escapes may be far-fetched; but they make for terrific, suspenseful escapist fare, embellished and empowered as they are by timeless, beautifully appointed sets and costumes, gorgeous international locations and, above all, by Daniel Craig.
When and hopefully if Craig decides to return for his fifth go-round in the James Bond film franchise, I’ll be first in line to see it.–Judith Trojan