Published On: Wed, Nov 18th, 2015

“Spectre” Ups James Bond’s Ante as He Visits the Past

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By Skip Sheffield

Bigger explosions. Crazier stunts. Faster chases. Gorier fights in more exotic locations. And of course those sexy Bond girls.

“Spectre” follows a time-tested formula and ups the ante. This is Daniel Craig’s fourth appearance as British secret Agent 007, the man with “A License To Kill.” Craig is fully invested in the 50-year-old series, as he is co-producer of this 24th installment in a series that started in 1962 with “Dr. No.”

“Spectre” reintroduces some characters from the original Ian Fleming stories. Principal among these is supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who was thought dead but has been resurrected thanks to the solution of a court case involving intellectual rights. The script is by a committee of four, who have thrown in every trick they can to keep an audience excited.

The story begins in a gaudy, spectacular fashion during the day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City. Bond is disguised in a skeleton suit, babe on his arm. They check into a hotel room, where Bond doffs his disguise, climbs out a window onto a ledge toting a huge gun, and joins the raucous crowd in hot pursuit of a man in a white suit who is plotting to blow up a stadium full of spectators. A most spectacular fight ensues aboard a helicopter. Of course Bond knows how to expertly pilot a helicopter just as he can drive at breakneck speeds through narrow streets and pilot an airplane even when its wings are being torn off, and fight every kind of hand-to-hand combat while hardly raising a sweat or wrinkling his tailored suit.

James Bond has morphed into some kind of superman since brawny, suave Scottish actor Sean Connery first created the movie character in “Dr. No.” Daniel Craig has created the best calm, collected and brilliant Bond since Connery. The past is dredged up in the form of personal effects from the “Skyfall” mission send to Bond. Dame Judi Dench’s M has been replaced by Ralph Fiennes’ cultivated, sympathetic boss, whose very existence is imperiled by a young hotshot known as C (Andrew Scott), who wants the Brits to join in some kind of worldwide surveillance and security scheme. In order to protect himself and the whole M16 00 program, Bond must go rogue to protect himself, his colleagues and the very concept of democracy, which is menaced by a taunting character known as Oberhauser (Christolph Waltz in fine villain fashion). He is aided by a much-young Q gadget-maker, played by Ben Whishaw. But first he must seduce a beautiful widow (Monica Bellucci) in Rome, flirt with Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) in London, and lay his life on the line for Dr. Madeleine Swann (French actress Lea Seydoux) in Austria and Morocco.

If you look for consistency, logic or believability in an action movie, you’ll go “Oh come on!” But if you want two and hours of violent action, witty quips and innuendoes under the sure hand of director Sam Mendes (“Skyfall”), this should be your cup of tea.

Three stars

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