Released Nov. 6 in the U.S., “Spectre“ is not the typical film about the über-super-famous James Bond. Instead, Sam Mendes’ second Bond cinematographic product resembles a TV show season finale as it wraps up all the subtle and sometimes not so visible dots that connect “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace” and “Skyfall“—the other three films in which Daniel Craig plays the titular spy. The bad guy, who was the boss of all the previous bad guys, is punished, but is he completely out of the picture or will he come back in the next movie? The good guy who has been single for a while falls in love, but will it be definite love and will it last? Just like a solid season finale, the ending scene of “Spectre“ leaves several questions open and unanswered.
After traveling around the world destroying private property and seducing women in Mexico, Italy and Austria—what else does he ever do anyway?—Bond eventually discovers that Franz Oberhauser (Christopher Waltz), is the source of all his woes. Oberhauser’s real name is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) who is related to the deaths of Bond’s dearest people—his parents, former boss M, Vesper Lynd and, if one goes back to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969), his wife Tracy Bond née di Vicenzo. Bond’s archenemy has planned to control the world through omnipresent security surveillance but England’s favorite spy will look to stop him.
One of these questions is precisely whether Bond has finally fallen in love again. Unfortunately, the emergence of love between the spy and the daughter of one of his previous enemies seems abrupt and reinforces gender stereotypes of a weak lady falling for the macho man who is protecting her from the evil. Mendes said that Madeleine Swann—a radiant Léa Seydoux—was a complex and an empowered female character, which is fair but not totally convincing.
An appealing aspect of the movie is the opening scene. The representation of the role of exotic places in the global politics has added layers of complexity to each movie from the very first James Bond film, despite (or shall I say, precisely because of) their colonialism. Just “Dr. No” (1962) portrays the role of the Caribbean in the Cold War, or as “Die Another Day” (2002) displays the political anxiety of the English-speaking world about the rise of North Korea, the opening scene of “Spectre“—the celebration of Día de los Muertos in Mexico, depicted through one of the most aesthetic and successful long shots in the history of the Bond movies—could be seen as a commentary on the growing influence of Latin America and its people in the international economy.
Now the real question is, will Madeline Swann have the same destiny as Tracy Bond did? Don’t be surprised if Blofeld returns in the 25th Bond movie and murders Swann. If this happened, would it not that be the perfect excuse to make 007 seek revenge and then retire, handing over the Bond baton to another actor in grand style? As Christoph Waltz shined as a cold-blooded psychopath but only had an active role from the second part of the movie on, he would hopefully be part of that hypothetical scenario. We will see.
Published on Duke’s The Chronicle