Daniel Craig as James Bond returns to the big screen in 2015 with Spectre, from the same writing/directing team that brought you 007’s last adventure, Skyfall. Marketing for the film has thus far mostly kept a lid on the storyline for the upcoming Bond movie, while also teasing mysteries (Is Christoph Waltz playing the new Blofeld? James’ brother? Both?) that have yet to be explained in full. That’s assuming you’ve stayed clear of the Spectre script draft that leaked online in 2014, anyway.
One element of Spectre that has been revealed, however, in the opening sequence. It’s long been a tradition for Bond films to open with a flashy action-driven prologue that unfolds as an episodic incident that is disconnected from the larger narrative, but sets the mood for the rest of the movie. However, much like the Craig-era 007 installments to date have been comparatively more character-oriented and evolved the Bond character from film to film, so have the openings become more relevant to the rest of the proceedings in each chapter.
The Spectre opening sequence takes place in Mexico on the Day of the Dead holiday, as explained in the above featurette – examining the impressive costume work and effort that went into putting the scene together. Director Sam Mendes has explained the reasoning behind this ‘cold opening’ as follows:
“I wanted the audience to be dropped right into the middle of a very, very specific, very heady, rich environment. It’s the Day of the Dead, everywhere you look there’s colour and detail and life. We’ve built floats and maquettes, the costumes are extraordinary and the craftsmanship is amazing.”
It’s been reported that the Spectre script – from the Skyfall writing trio of John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade – originally featured a different opening sequence, but that changes were made in order for the costly production to gain a tax break from the Mexican government. However, it’s worth noting that the film’s opening was always going to be a spectacle showcase that revolves around a simple plot point (namely, Bond is pursuing someone who is possibly connected to other villains in the movie), and the retooled version still fulfills that storytelling purpose. So, as far as artistic compromises go, this one seems to be fairly insubstantial.
The inclusion of the Day of the Dead holiday does, in fact, line up with Spectre‘s thematic through-line, in the sense that the story sees James having to confront ghosts from his past (some of which are not so dead after all), as he seeks the truth behind the eponymous terrorist organization. Skyfall was at its best when Mendes’ arthouse cinema background merged seamlessly with the usual proceedings of the Bond franchise, and the plot for Spectre could allow the director to leave an even clearer thumbprint on the franchise with this installment. His newly-gained experience from making Skyfall ought to help, too.
Craig and Waltz are joined by a pretty terrific cast here, which should further help to make Spectre a worthwhile Bond film. Skyfall costars Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw are back as the new iterations of ‘M’, Moneypenny, and ‘Q’, respectively, while the list of series newcomers includes Monica Bellucci (The Matrix trilogy), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color), and Andrew Scott (Sherlock).
Spectre opens in U.S. theaters on November 6th, 2015.