Monday, November 30, 2015

Spectre Brings Out the Best of Bond

The Sam Mendes directed Spectre show the best James Bond, and the spy movie genre, has to offer.

"Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." -Ernest Hemingway

I saw this quote a few days ago while browsing at the Chapters / Indigo store located at Bay & Bloor. It's been placed on a jewellery tray that's part of the book chain's 'Hemingway Collection.' The quote is also a good summation about what makes a James Bond movie so satisfying to watch.

Spectre, 007's 24th outing in movie theaters, is no exception. Under Sam Mendes's direction the story comes alive with beautiful tracking camera shots, a solid plot, and moments of genuine suspense.

It opens with Bond finishing some business left to him by the previous M (Judi Dench) who was killed at the end of Skyfall, also directed by Mendes. Bond is in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead to do some killing.

Wrapping up loose ends is a good way for the movie to open — as the title sequence makes clear Spectre ties together all the villains and Bond women from the last 3 films in the series (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall). Turns out the bad guys were all working for the evil organization that shares the movie's title. Spectre will be familiar to old school Bond fans from the days when Sean Connery started the franchise.

Bond's work in Mexico lands the new M (Ralph Fiennes) in trouble with 'C' a bureaucrat intent on doing away with the '00' spy program to make way for a brave new world of electronic surveillance. He's also secretly helping Spectre chief Ernest Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), who makes a weak Bond villain. He fails to inspire much feeling.

The action in Spectre moves Bond and the woman he's saving this time around, Dr. Madeleine Swann, from Italy, to Morocco, and back to London, England for the finale. All the action — particularly a fight with one of Blofeld's thugs on a moving train — has real suspense. Death's closeness is what makes Bond live more.

And that's the main appeal of the James Bond movies — living life to the fullest. We're going to die anyway; we might as well squeeze as much pleasure as we can from traveling the world, driving fast cars (if you can afford the ride), and playing the game. The added bonus of being Bond is that you get to kill the bad guy and save the world.

Spectre's theme song by Sam Smith foreshadows Bond's decision to run away with (marry?) Dr. Swann after Blofeld is defeated. Knowing 007 this won't last long — the writing's on the wall.

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