007 is pursuing terrorists in Mexico City bent on blowing up a stadium when he recovers a mysterious ring from one of the criminals. He follows the clues to a final message from M instructing him to find and kill a notorious criminal and attend his funeral. The deceased man’s wife leads him to SPECTRE. Bond learns it is they, not Quantum, who were behind the events of his past and their current plan involves tapping into the security networks of multiple countries in a plot to increase their influence.
To help infiltrate SPECTRE, Bond enlists the help of a former nemesis, Mr. White (from Casino Royale). Along with White’s daughter Madeline, he manages to arrange a meeting with their leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Facing certain death, Bond manages to escape but he still has to prevent the security system from going online. Needless to say, 007 manages to triumph just in the nick of time!
2015, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 28 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux
Directed by Sam Mendes
There is no doubt that the 007 franchise is formulaic and this film does a nice job of blending elements from previous movies into an extremely entertaining two-and-a-half hours. I think my favorite scene is when Bond and Madeline fight super-hitman Hinx (former pro-wrestler Dave Bautista) on a train. It’s a near-perfect recreation of Roger Moore’s battle with Tee Hee (the guy with the razor-sharp hook on his right arm) in Live And Let Die. When it’s over, Madeline asks, “So, what do we do now?” Lady, you do realize what film you’re in, right?!
Seriously though, this final installment of the Daniel Craig era goes out nicely with a somewhat subdued presentation. There are several good action sequences but they don’t dominate like in many past Bond films. The plot is certainly relevant with its focus on security versus privacy and the rather frightening idea of a worldwide surveillance network controlled by the governments of multiple nations
007 has remained viable by reinventing itself every few years. First we had the classic Sean Connery who introduced Bond as a suave and supremely cool character. Then Roger Moore took things over to the humorous side. Pierce Brosnan introduced a grittier form of action and blended aspects of both his predecessors to create a new character. Daniel Craig has taken the approach of a moody professional who is always in some sort of emotional distress but channels that energy into his work, to which he is singularly and unerringly devoted. I’ll be sorry to see him go but I’m sure the next Bond (Idris Elba perhaps?) will bring some fresh blood to the party. As promised at the end of the credits, “James Bond will return.”
There are no real issues with the Blu-ray transfer which is clean and free of artifacts. My beef is with the director’s choice of color palette. Warm hues are appropriate for places like Mexico City but it looks as though a yellow filter was placed over the camera lens. The image maintains good depth thanks to well-managed contrast and deep black levels but I wish there had been a little more variety in the chosen colors. Detail rendering and grain are handled with refinement so there is no softness resulting from the almost monochromatic look.
The DTS-HD Master Audio encode is presented in 7.1 and offers a huge dynamic range with finely-resolved detail from the quietest whisper to the loudest explosion. The opening sequence makes for a great subwoofer demo as buildings crumble around 007. Before the advent of Dolby Atmos, I would have given this film a 5-star audio rating but it doesn’t quite have the impact of movies like San Andreas.
Bonus features total about 30 minutes and include behind-the-scenes coverage of the opening scene in Mexico City (20 minutes) and some brief video blogs about other production aspects like the cars, the Bond girls and the like. Also included are three theatrical trailers.