"The dead are alive." These are the opening lines of Spectre, the latest James Bond movie. It's true, too. James Bond, the lead in the one franchise that conventional wisdom tells us should have died a long time ago, isalive and thriving. Spectre is the culmination off a journey that began in Casino Royale: Daniel Craig is James Bond and he finally has fun while at it.
The main theme in Spectre is death. A realistic fear of death is what has made Daniel Craig's Bond so good. Compared to other interpretations of 007, Craig's Bond has always been described as "more human". What makes Spectre so special within the very respectable slate of films since Craig took over the role is that in Spectre Bond is not fazed by death. In fact, he actually opens the movie dressed up as a dead man in a majestic opening scene set on Día de los Muertos in Mexico City.
It's not that Bond is back to his playboy mannequin days. What finally clicks in Spectre is that Bond is aware of his status as asuper spy. For the first time since the ridiculous Die Another Day, Bond knows being a super spy is fun! Sure, there's time for brooding and self-awareness about super-spydom being an obsolete concept. But there's also time for fantastic car chases and a few solid jokes. While Skyfall was a stunning film, it betrayed some of the core concepts of who Bond was. Do we really need an origin story for every character? Did we need one for Bond? Skyfall is a wonderful, dark spy movie, but perhaps not a great James Bond movie.
Spectre is the Bond franchise once again evading the laser guns and living to entertain another generation. It marks a return to a more enjoyable Bond. Butit also embraces the changes in Bond introduced since Casino Royale. It's Craig's Bond coming full circle. In the opening of Casino Royale we see an agent becoming 007. The two movies in between feel like Bond trying to be a spy in a world where he's not needed. In Spectre, he has defeated his demons and is finally ready to call himself "Bond, James Bond".