Spectre finally comes out this week, and while most Bond fans are by now familiar with the basic plot and the action from the trailers, it’s not too late for a round of final observations heading into the release. These are a few things that have been interesting about the build-up to Bond 24.
1. Bond’s At The End Of His Rope
If there’s a prevailing tone throughout the trailers—other than that this looks like a beautiful movie filed with impressive action sequences—it’s that Bond might be in real trouble this time. Of course, that’s always the impression the filmmakers want to give initially, because what fun is it if the threats 007 faces aren’t serious? Nevertheless, this time it feels different. In portraying the latest Bond villain, Christoph Waltz displays a disconcerting self-assuredness in the previews. That, coupled with the fact that Waltz is a character from Bond’s past, makes for a more threatening vibe. Watching the trailer, it just feels like Bond might be getting in over his head.
And perhaps this is reading too much into the psychology of producing a film of this magnitude, but Daniel Craig’s attitude of late is reflective of the higher stakes his character faces in Spectre. There was a much-publicized interview with Timeout London in which Craig said he’d rather slit his wrists than do another Bond film just now. The quote was taken out of context quite a bit, but the level of fatigue and defeat he feels at this point may be a subtle clue to how he had to act this time around.
2. Product Placement Appears Minimal
Before I start, I’ll acknowledge that there will be product placement all over this film. The cars come to mind first, and it’s already clear that Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Range Rover have invested in the film. But nothing this time around will be as overt as the massive Heineken deal that led to Bond sipping beers in Skyfall. The bulk of the product placement appears to be subtler in the newer film, having to do with clothing and weaponry and other elements that we expect to see in a Bond project.This is all kind of refreshing, as the biggest news in the commercialization of Spectre is what didn’t happen, as opposed to what did. For instance, there is no gaming accompaniment coming out—not even a cheap mobile third person shooter or something of the like. However, Gala Bingo’s site is featuring a Bond-related bonus game in celebration of the film, though the game doesn’t invoke the name “Spectre” in any way. Instead, it’s more in line with typical VIP offerings and promotions at the site than an ordinary Bond video game. And perhaps most amusingly, there’s even a story circulating about a massive (as in, Heineken-sized) product placement deal that Craig and director Sam Mendes turned down. As reported by The Independent, the duo ruled that Bond couldn’t use an Android Samsung phone (for $50 million) because “Bond only uses the best.” Ouch, Samsung. None of this has any huge bearing on the film itself, but it’s nice to see the discipline that went into focusing on the movie, and not just its profits.
3. The Trailers Don’t Look Familiar
Skyfall was justifiably viewed by most every critic out there as being a masterpiece. It was one of the most complete, daring, and captivating Bond films to date. But there was one fairly common criticism of the film, which was that it mirrored The Dark Knight a little too closely. Moviepilot examined this idea and got as serious as saying Sam Mendes “remade The Dark Knight and called it Skyfall.” That feels like a bit much, but there’s no denying the strong structural and visual similarities between the two. It just wasn’t that big of an issue, because everyone loved both movies.
At any rate, there’s something refreshing about the fact that the trailers for Spectre don’t seem to resemble anything in particular. Sure, they succumbed to the trend of sinister masks in movies (er, that happened in The Dark Knight come to think of it), but for the most part the trailers are filled with action sequences and visuals that look wholly original. The car chase through Rome looks as realistic as it is thrilling, the helicopter barrel role is just spectacular, and Mr. White’s wintry hideaway looks like the stuff of an as-yet-unwritten mystery novel. Here’s the latest trailer for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
The excitement is getting to be overwhelming. Daniel Craig has taken this series to new heights, and while it’s not quite getting the critical reception of Skyfall, every indication is that this newest movie is another great effort.