Could be a sad day: Craig’s last waltz with 007?


He gets a kick out of Bond, James Bond

I speak to Daniel Craig lovers: it is a sad day. That’s not a spoiler, just a goodbye to the broody, moody Bond whose adventures have brought us through “Casino Royal,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Skyfall,” ending with the charmingly dark “Spectre.”

I’ll be out front: it’s not as good as “Royale,” or as fleshed out as “Skyfall.” Some of the dark-entity connections are made with loose and unconvincing ties, and Christoph Waltz doesn’t get enough screen time as Bond’s close-knit, seemingly omnipresent foe, Blofeld.

My friends say it’s Craig’s most Bond-like Bond film, and we all agree that it’s friggin’ awesome, in the Bondy way.
How can it not be? You’ve got M (Ralph Fiennes) trying to save the entire double-0 secret service, mass surveillance protocol surging, a villain that looks a hell of a lot like Bond with a creepy-charm voice and a Bond lady that softens the ever-hardening heart of Bond, James Bond.

Léa Seydoux wears her character Madeleine Swann tightly. She is found halfway through the story, a daughter of an old foe, and becomes a star. Her sternness and badassery are convincing; Bond won’t be getting in her bed anytime soon. However, she does penetrate Bond with the question: “Is this really what you want, living in the shadows, hunting, being hunted?”

The beastly Bond hunter Mr. Hinx (Dave Batista) is Blofeld’s strong arm. He’s a scary hunter, devout, a killer the size of a professional wrestler (cause Batista is), with chiseled assassin skills.

There’s the widow and passionate love-maker Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellicci) who becomes one with Bond early on. The sex scene is Bond-good, with up-closeness and sex-away-your-pain darkness.

She also gives him a tip and an important name. It’s one of many layers Bond must tear away to get to his target, a last request given by the former M.

With help from Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Whishaw) Bond searches for answers and travels the miles that lead him to face his past. His friends are needed, faithful, secret; M chastises Bond for going rogue, and threatens those who aid 007 in his journey.

That’s the thing about this film: Bond goes places, physical miles and mental miles. He travels: through congested streets in Mexico City, along frozen pitches in the Alps, on relentlessly sun-scorched desert sands, recalling “Casino Royal,” “Quantum,” and “Skyfall.” He’s constantly moving, sometimes the mouse, sometimes the cat.

The movie is a love chase between Bond and Blofeld, an affair of mind games. I adored Waltz in “Inglorious Bastards” and “Django Unchained,” which is why I wanted a longer dance. I guess there wasn’t time, since the film already clocks at 148 minutes. Waltz is a magnificent dance in what he is allotted. He grabs Bond, and by extension Bond-lovers, by the brain.
The writers, John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth try their best to make this fourth film the all-encompassing and great finale to Craig’s Bond-legacy. Some of their stunts are impressive, but some are cheap tricks. I couldn’t take them on their word all of the time, couldn’t believe some of “Spectre.”

This is contrary to “Skyfall,” where the deep, dark connections were well earned.

However, the car in this movie is super silver, super fast and super stolen.

Another Bond satisfaction is Craig’s continued ability to kick ass, take names and get out of the tightest, deadliest knots. And damn, does Craig look good in a suit, shooting a pistol, punching faces, flying a snow-covered plane.

Also, there’s a train.

This is all accentuated by the thrilling chase music, the love-making chimes, the eerie notes that bounce off the dark underground. The score is owed to Thomas Newman, known for his work on “Skyfall,” “Wall-E” and “American Beauty.”
“Spectre” is directed by Sam Mendes, director of “American Beauty,” “Jarhead,” and “Skyfall.”

Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema does some awesome mirror-work, at one point overlaying Bond and Blofeld to look like one man. His other work includes “Interstellar” and “Her.” In “Spectre,” he moves the camera with a master’s lens, crouching with Bond, travelling fast behind a speeding car, catching the sweat beads on brow and breast.

One thing we all agreed on: “Spectre” looks damn-good dressed in Hoytema.

My nod to Set Decorator Anna Pinnock and Costume Designer Jany Temime.

Let’s end where it all started: the opening montage. One thing about Craig’s Bond: he always gets a fantastical entrance. In this, mutating and inky octopus arms wrap around Bond as Sam Smith sings his original “Writing’s on the Wall.” The octo-spectre is inescapable, and snakes through Bond and lover’s nakedness, through cloudy billows. The montage gets you ready for the eeriness, sexiness and Bondy-ness of what may well be Daniel Craig’s last waltz with 007.