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Bond's On A Different Secret Mission In Spectre
Secret missions aren't quite as secret as James Bond might like, but it's most important for him to persevere. In the movie Spectre, James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes on a mission without telling M (Ralph Fiennes) the plan. Bond has learned that the aasaain Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) is in Mexico City, finalizing plans to blow up a stadium in the Mexican capitol. These plans coincide with Dia De Los Muertos festivities. Bond gets to Sciarra and takes a ring from him, but not before creating a huge incident. As a result, M removes 007 from active duty and orders him to report for a physical. During his inactivity, he reports to Q (Ben Whishaw), who implants a tracking device in the agent. In spite of all of that, 007 asks Q to look the other way while Bond borrows an Aston Martin and heads to Rome. Before he goes, he confides in Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) the purpose for dealing with Sciarra came in a video from the previous M (Judi Dench), which he received shortly after her death. The timing is unfortunate for MI6, as Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott) leads efforts to combine MI5 and MI6, and decides his merger plans won't need the 00 agents.
Bond goes to Sciarra's funeral, and meets with his widow Lucia (Monica Bellucci), and eventually arranges for her protection. He then uses the ring to infiltrate a SPECTRE meeting, where Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), a foe assumed dead, decrees he wants someone to eliminate Bond. Oberhauser gives the assignment to Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista), who cannot catch Bond, whose presence has been exposed. Once Bond eludes Mr. Hinx, Moneypenny lets Bond know that a person of interest in this mission is Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), a Sceptre ally now living in Austria, and follows up on Oberhauser for 007. She and Q subsequently tell him what they learn. The terminally ill Mr. White thinks Bond's pursuit is fruitless, but seeks Bond's help for protection of his daughter, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), a physician who desires no ties to her father. White tells Bond what he knows about Swann and Spectre before killing himself. Bond finds Swann, but so does Mr. Hinx. Another chase ensues, with Bond rescuing the doctor and using that information to find his way into a SPECTRE location in Africa. There, Bond and Swann encounter Oberhauser, who eluded notice by using the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld. His plans for world domination include a London connection.
Spectre marks the second film directed by Sam Mendes, following Skyfall, the best Bond picture of the Daniel Craig era. Skyfall scenarists Robert Wade, Neal Purvis, and John Logan get a fourth collaborator in Jez Butterworth, whose credits include the 2014 sci-fi action picture Edge Of Tomorrow. However, this team gives viewers more of a standard action picture rather than a Bond-themed one. The names are familiar, the women are beautiful, but Spectre is light on gadgets - and long on running time. Some might even wonder how, given the response to Bond's presence in Mexico, how 007 manages to escape being labelled a terrorist, just like Blofeld. Bond's entire mission is not sanctioned, and the damage is often quite clear. I suppose that the Spectre mission constitutes secret agent work in a 21st century context.
The movie benefits from strong performances from Craig, Seydoux, and Waltz. Craig has established himself as a darker 007, a no-nonsense agent who makes this mission his business - with or without MI6 approval. Craig also gets to show a comic side of himself when he enters SPECTRE using Sciarra's ring and tells the guards who don't recognize him that he's Mickey Mouse. His activity brings him closer to Dr. Swann, who'd just as soom be practicing medicine. Seydoux, as Dr. Swann, openly disavows the ways of her estranged father. The SPECTRE pursuit forces to protect herself and put her trust in Bond. In time, she sees her protector in a less adversarial way. Waltz shows he knows sinister as Blofeld, letting the world beleive he's dead as he goes about activities designed to bring the world to his side. He even reveals a connection between himself and Bond that the agent didn't immediately remember. Fiennes, Harris, and Whishaw also do fine work in limited moments.
Spectre continues to build on Craig's Bond portrayal as the series stories bring back more of the characters created by Ian Fleming. Some of the movie's elements, though, seem more inspired by the Die Hard franchise than by the James Bond franchise. That said, I think the changing times call for some changes to Bond to avoid any anachronism. With the changes shown is Spectre, though, I wonder how Bond and his fellow MI6 operatives can do their jobs and truly be secret agents.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Spectre three stars. Bond's on the case for the 24th time.