With Spectre -- the twenty-fourth James Bond picture and the fourth and probably final one to feature Daniel Craig as 007 -- director Sam Mendes takes a tip, perhaps unwittingly, from Hitchcock, as well as from Orson Welles's Touch of Evil: The picture opens in Mexico City, with a regal, ambitious, Wellesian tracking shot that begins in the midst of a Day of the Dead parade and eventually finds its way to Craig's Bond, standing in the crowd.
He's wearing a holiday-appropriate costume, a sexy-threatening skull mask and a black topcoat with a silkscreened skeleton's spine winding up the back. There's a masked beauty on his arm, but who's looking at her? The camera trails the couple as they trek through the reveling masses, and it's impossible to take your eyes off that spine, a sensuous, rippling, imaginary X-Ray of the man beneath.
We don't really need to see through Daniel Craig's clothes, because eventually he does take at least some of them off. But dressed or un-, he's the chief pleasure to be had in Spectre, along with the joys of gazing at the feral-flower beauty of Léa Seydoux (as Madeleine Swann, the headstrong psychologist Bond falls for), Monica Bellucci (who appears only briefly, as an Italian widow in a merry widow), and the radiant charmer Naomie Harris (who again plays MI6 administrative assistant Miss Moneypenny).
Spectre on the whole is gorgeous, but there's enough plot here for six movies, and the picture groans under the weight. Still, if this really is Craig's last go-round in a 007 dinner jacket and bow tie, let's make the most of it by objectifying his beauty to the max.