He’s the most enduring secret agent character in movie history. Fifty-three years, 24 official canon films and six actors later, James Bond returns in yet another thrilling, globe hopping epic adventure. Current star Daniel Craig reinvented him as a well-tailored charging bull in a china shop in “Casino Royale” and then brought the series to a grinding halt with the indecipherable and horribly titled “Quantum of Solace.” He made up for it in grand style and assumed more of the traditional mantle we love with the old school inspired “Skyfall.” Now “Spectre,” his fourth and perhaps final appearance, continues in that vein and delivers his best outing.
Beautifully orchestrated opening strains of the iconic theme music quietly titillate us before erupting with Bond’s anticipated appearance in his signature gun barrel. He then casually makes his way into an equally anticipated massive pre-title action sequence that’s like nothing we have seen before. It’s only the first of many highly imaginative and stunning action scenes that prove we have not yet seen it all. The title song is forgettable but the main title sequence visuals are the freshest and most interesting in several films.
While the derivative two-part story is one that’s been all too used in recent movies, it more than gets the job done. It really is after all just of means of establishing the hunt and setting up some nifty confrontations. Bond goes rogue and sets off a firestorm that leads him to the secret world-wide criminal organization of the title. At the same time, the newly appointed C (“Sherlock’s” Andrew Scott) is looking to make M (very traditionally assumed by Ralph Fiennes), Bond and the whole Double-0 section obsolete with a technologically advanced security monitoring system.
There are also several tie-ins to Craig’s previous Bond outings including a villainous figure from the past (Christoph Waltz) and leading lady Madeleine Swan (Lea Seydoux). Seydoux fits the Bond girl nicely in every way, very fine shape and manner. However, it is Monica Bellucci who seriously turns up the heat and delivers sultry with a capital “S.” She may not be a twenty-something, but her brief appearance as the courageous widow of an assassin gives Bond his greatest romantic scene and leaves us wanting much more. She also gives a performance with depth and emotional impact.
If you want to get picky, there are several scenes and story progressions that don’t make a lot of sense. But they are really cool. And it’s that inimitable super cool that is the hallmark of over half a century of James Bond movies. Although “Spectre” ends on a note of curiously bittersweet finality, the end credits still herald Bond’s return. If this should be Daniel Craig’s last go at it, he gets a really classy exit.