“I also have a mortgage, and two cats to feed.”

Spectre

The most recent Bond film and this is the first movie in my blog series that I have not previously watched.  I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.  Of course, Daniel Craig is back as James Bond, Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny.  Andrew Scott (Moriarty in Sherlock) slinks through as C, Dave Bautista (such a surprise to see Drax of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy) as the mostly silently and basically never named Hinx.  We briefly see Léa Seydoux, who plays Madeleine Swann in this film, in Robin Hood as Isabella of Angoulême.  Christoph Waltz (Richelieu in the newer Three Musketeers film; making him the second Bond villain to come out of that movie; Mads Mikkelsen was Le Chiffre in Casino Royale before he was Rochefort) is creepy as Blofeld.

This is the first of Craig’s Bond films to open with the gun barrel sequence.  It opens properly on a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico and everyone is walking around wearing skeleton masks…off to a creepy start.  The camera follows one man in a skeleton suit, he follows a woman to her room and removes his mask to reveal Bond.  Except he has more important things to do that bed an all too willing woman.  He just causally walks along the roof’s edge to set up an assassination shot.  The building ends up blowing (though I’m not certain that was caused by Bond) and crumbles towards him.  A well placed sofa saves him from breaking bones when he falls.  He then pursues his target through the parade towards the city’s square.  A helicopter is waiting for the bad guy.  Bond jumps in after him and there is a terrifying fight between the two men; terrifying because it causes a helicopter to spin wildly over a crowd of people.  Bond manages to kick his target out of the helicopter, then the pilot, and regain control of the helicopter and steers it safely away from the crowd [because it’s hard to view the main character as a hero if he kills loads of innocent people just to get his man, ten minutes into the film.]

The opening credits continue the creepy vibe by featuring an octopus.  There are flashbacks to Silva, Vesper, M, and Chiffre (and I will admit, Daniel Craig does not look too bad shirtless).  In London, Bond is in trouble with M again.  His mission to Mexico was not sanctioned and it does not help the situation that MI6 is merging with MI5, calling the double-0 program into question.  Bond is introduced to the man overseeing the change, Max Denbigh, whom Bond refers to as C.  Denbigh’s brilliant plan is that human agents are no longer needed; drones can gather all the intelligence they need (continuing the debate from Skyfall).  Bond has Moneypenny bring his personal effects from Skyfall to his sparse apartment.  And he trusts her enough to reveal that his mission is a dying request from the previous M.  A video had arrived in his mail shortly after her death, instructing him to hunt down a man and attend his funeral.  Moneypenny agrees to help cover for Bond and do some research for him on “the Pale King.”  In the personal effects, we see a copy of temporary guardianship paperwork for a young James Bond, along with a photograph.

Tanner fills Bond in further on C’s new plans.  The old MI6 building will be demolished and an impersonal glass skyscraper has been erected to house C’s surveillance.  He wants to get the whole world in on it and give access to those countries.  Q has set up shop away from prying eyes.  He implants nanotechnology to keep track of Bond, per M’s orders.  Oh, there’s a new car, but not for Bond.  Q is working on rebuilding the vintage Aston Martin, but Bond misunderstood his instruction to bring the car back in one piece, not bring back one piece of the car.  Q has a new watch for Bond; it tells time.  Bond asks Q for a favor; make him disappear, for forty-eight hours.  [And yes, Bond is totally flirting with Q; Q gets flustered; and it’s rather adorable.  And a bit hilarious]  Q returns to his bunker later in the evening to discover the new Aston Martin gone. 

Bond jets off to Rome to observe the funeral as M instructed.  He saves the widow’s life and seduces her to get information on her husband.  He was part of a dangerous organization that is now meeting.  Bond takes the man’s ring as his ticket into the meeting.  The bad guys have organized and are reporting how their criminal activities are progressing.  The leader remains in the shadows and they are all silent as a henchman kills a member for the honor of going after “the Pale King.”  The leader is aware that Bond is present and welcomes him.  Bond gets out, but the silent henchman follows him in an equally fancy sports car.  The gadgets aren’t all quite installed, but the rear flame throwers at least work.  And the ejector seat (so Bond lets a brand new shiny car just sink into the river).  He calls up Moneypenny while he’s driving and she reports that Bond has run into the Pale King before; he was known as Quantum, or Mr. White.  Bond has a new direction, but he needs Moneypenny to also look up Franz Oberhauser, someone presumed dead.

Back in London, C is getting closer to success with his goal.  Q lies to M to cover for Bond.  Bond jets off to Austria and finds Mr. White.  The old man is already dying, but he’ll let Bond protect his daughter in order to lead him to the organization he’s searching for.  Then commits suicide to cut short his agonizing death.  Bond meets up with Madeleine Swann, though she has no desire to be involved with her deceased father’s life.  Q also shows up, with orders to bring Bond in.  Bond hands off the ring and goes after Swann’s kidnappers, led by the silent Rome guy.  Q is almost nabbed, but escapes in a crowd and Bond utterly crashes a small airplane (bit by bit, losing wings, then the tail).  Swann finally agrees to go with Bond.  Q fills them in that Bond was right; there is something to this ring.  All of his previous enemies, Greene, Chiffre, Silva, are all connected to Oberhauser, the head of the villainous organization Spectre.

The L’Americain that White mentioned is not a person, Swann reveals, but a hotel in Tangier.  She resists Bond’s advances, but insists on accompanying him.  Bond discovers a secret room (and a tape of Vesper Lynd’s interrogation…even after this time, he still mourns her).  He and Swann are now off to the desert.  Back in London, C is continuing to succeed with his intelligence data plan.  M points out, just like Bond did in Skyfall, that a  man on the ground is the only way to make the decision whether someone needs to die or not.  Unfortunately, C has managed to shut down the double-0 program.  C mocks M, calling him the past.  M retorts that C is a cocky little bastard.  Q and Moneypenny go to M with information on Bond, but he orders them to hide it.  C is watching MI6 agents; they’ll just lead him to Bond.  They must abandon him (even though Bond is a pain in the butt, M still protects him).

Rome guy attacks Swann and Bond on their train and Bond almost loses.  Madeleine luckily knows how to use a gun (side effect of her father that she dislikes) and rescues Bond.  He manages to get Rome guy off the train.  What to do now?  Why have sex, of course.  The pair eventually make it to a complex in the middle of the desert.  And their host is playing mind games, leaving personal pictures in their rooms.  Blofeld, the leader of Spectre is their host and his complex houses intelligence gathering; C is one of his stooges…meaning if C’s program goes online, Spectre will have further access, spelling trouble for governments.  While Bond has come to kill Blofeld, Blofeld has brought Bond to his complex to die.  He is the author of Bond’s pain; he is behind the villains Bond has faced recently.  He is ultimately responsible for Vesper’s death, and M’s death.  “You interfered in my world; I destroyed yours,” Blofeld comments.  Blofeld also turns out to be Franz Oberhauser.  His father was awarded guardianship of Bond and asked Franz to be the orphan’s brother.  Franz disliked the notion and arranged to kill his father and has spent his life seeking revenge on Bond by destroying all he loves (cause that makes a whole lot of sense).

He knocks Bond out and straps him into a chair.  Swann will watch as Blofeld probes Bond’s mind, ultimately killing him.  Yeah, those drills are disturbing.  While Blofeld monologues to Madeleine, Bond removes his watch.  Madeleine comes over to whisper she loves Bond when they figure Blofeld’s next move will be the killing one.  Bond hands Swann the watch and it starts an explosion in the complex.  Bond escapes, with Swann.  Explosions ramp up until the whole complex is engulfed in flames (this set the Guinness world record for the world’s largest film stunt explosion ever).

But it’s not the end.  Bond meets with M, Q, Tanner, and Moneypenny.  They’re going after C.  Q will hack in and stop C’s program.  But Bond is taken hostage on the drive over; M escapes and joins up with the other three (Madeleine has decided she cannot be part of this life and leaves…dangerous move).  Bond is  taken to the old MI6 building, which is rigged with explosives and escapes his captors, but follows the arrows down into the depths of the building [by the way, that trick with the zip-tie cuffs; you can legitimately escape that way {it’s even explained in The Official MacGyver Survival Manual}].  M continues with the plan and confronts C (who sounds so much like Moriarty…can we push him off a building yet?).  M gets the upper hand and Q is finally successful in shutting down C’s program.  M and C struggle for the gun and C falls down several floors.  Pictures of those who have died around Bond are posted to mess with his head and Bond discovers Blofeld isn’t dead yet.  Scarred, yes, over one eye, but not dead.  And he has Madeleine.  Will Bond choose to save himself and live with the regret, or die trying to save the woman who may understand him, being the daughter of an assassin?  Of course, Bond races after Madeleine, the three minute countdown on.  He rescues her, but they only have seconds.  They jump through the floor, caught by a net.  Blofeld and the four MI6 agents watch as the old building collapses.  Bond and Swann escape by boat and chase after Blofeld.  Bond brings down the helicopter and strides towards Blofeld who is crawling from the wreckage.  M watches at one end, and Swann at the other.  Bond does not shoot.  He chooses Swann, tossing his gun.  M makes the arrest.

Bond visits Q one last time, to retrieve his original Aston Martin.  Swann is in the passenger seat.  The Bond theme plays as Bond smiles and drives off.  So, did Bond just retire?  According to press released on the upcoming twenty-fifth Bond film, No Time to Die [why is it that “die” features in a lot of Bond titles?], Bond did indeed retire.  The new film will take place several years after the events of Spectre.  Blofeld and Madeleine Swann will both return and Rami Malek is slated to portray the villain.  I do hope the movie makes its November release; after watching Spectre, I am geared up to watch what is possibly Daniel Craig’s final Bond film.

I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would, but I still consider it creepy.  I’m not as likely to watch this one over and over like I do with Skyfall.  So, Pierce versus Daniel?  Pierce is the classic James Bond to me; suave, charming.  His Bond has the highest body count, but there’s an elegant style.  Daniel; they just like to beat him up.  And there’s lots of action, lots and lots of action.  Chase scenes within chase scenes.  But I prefer the storylines from Daniel’s time, despite being darker than Pierce’s.  That may have to do with how movies have changed over twenty years or so. 

As mentioned, Skyfall is my favorite Bond film (a bit to my mother’s disappointment, I believe).  I do like the direction they’ve taken Moneypenny and Q; making them more active.  Samantha Bond and Pierce Brosnan had excellent flirt chemistry and that Moneypenny certainly wanted to sleep with Bond, despite his reputation.  Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny is an action girl, a good pairing with Bond.  And Ben Whishaw as Q is adorable.  [And I certainly subscribe to the fan notion that he is the third Holmes brother; his resemblance to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is uncanny.]  Judi Dench is the primary M I know and she played it marvelously.  She was more ruthless with Daniel Craig, but you saw how much Bond cared for M in Skyfall.  I have determined that Bond needs someone to protect.  That is how he operates.  And I love that about the character; I think I love that in a character period (the Winchester brothers, Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon…characters who will throw themselves into danger to protect someone).

I haven’t quite decided with the reboot if it changes the notion that James Bond is a bit like Doctor Who: the Doctor has many faces, but they are all the Doctor.  So mayhaps, James Bond is a codename.  Skyfall insinuates that this is the true James Bond.

As just mentioned; I hold to the idea that Q is a Holmes.  And there are several fanfiction authors who have written brilliant pieces.  And warning; they often pair the new Q with Bond.  I’m okay with that.

I highly recommend ktwontwo’s series starting with Brothers Three.

A Wandering Minstrel has several good oneshots

And I recently discovered over on AO3, White_Noise’s series The Other Life of Quentin Holmes, Quartermaster

Also on AO3, Beginte has a wonderful Work and Play series, amongst other oneshots.

Threshold by AtoTheBean is a wonderful Spetre fix-it where Q is actually the one who gets kidnapped by Blofeld.

And I have utterly fallen in love with Only­_1_Truth’s stories.  The Chaos and Logic Chronicles are delicious at times and are apparently a play off of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods book [which I have not read, but I now might be interested in].  I’ll Be Your Light, Your Match, Your Burning Sun is rather good, as is Alley-Cat Quartermaster.

Next Time: Another film series based on bestselling books; these by Tom Clancy, starting with Hunt for Red October

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