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The new James Bond movie is loaded with 007 déjà vu

Movies

THE JAMES BOND flick “Spectre” was a huge hit last weekend, so big that it’s on track to be one of the year’s top box-office successes.

And Daniel Craig is already making noises about quitting the series that gave him riches and worldwide stardom after this fourth go-round.

It’s to be expected, of course. Sean Connery did the same thing after he’d played Bond a few times. In fact, Connery left the franchise after five films, allowing George Lazenby to assay the role for one entry, and then was lured back by money for a sixth, afterward saying “Never again!” (Which explains the title of Connery’s eventual return to the role in 1983’s “Never Say Never Again.”)

After Connery, Roger Moore came aboard as the films became campier and campier, emphasizing lame jokes and dumb puns along with the requisite action sequences, some of which are still quite stunning.

Timothy Dalton followed with a pair of Bond films that were more brutal and dark, after which came a six-year hiatus, and then Pierce Brosnan took a more introspective approach to the role for the next four films.

Craig followed, making Bond tough, rooted and troubled, and his first outing in 2006, “Casino Royale,” was a welcome and well-received reboot, with an origin story that begins before Bond achieves double-0 status and kicks off a new timeline for Craig’s tenure. His subsequent films were “Quantum of Solace,” a disappointment, and “Skyfall,” an enormous hit with both critics and audiences.

Now we have “Spectre,” which is good but also offers an odd sense of déjà vu with quite a few sequences that seem to be 007’s greatest hits, skimmed from earlier Bond films:

• The pre-credits opening action sequence, a helicopter battle that brings to mind the helicopter battle that opened “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).

• A tricked-out car with guns and an ejector seat, a la “Goldfinger” (1964).

• A gigantic brawler that seems to be indestructible and keeps coming back, as with Jaws in “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977).

• A fight with that muscleman aboard a moving train, not dissimilar to a famous sequence in “From Russia With Love” (1963).

• A villain that wears a Nehru jacket, as did “Dr. No” (1962).

• Bond being lured to a bomb with a countdown device near the end of the film, similar to Bond attempting to disarm a bomb with a countdown device toward the end of “Goldfinger.”

• The return of Spectre, the villainous global syndicate that Bond took on in six films beginning with “Dr. No.” (Spectre also figures in the nonseries Bond film “Never Say Never Again.”)

• And finally — and this might be considered a spoiler, so proceed at your own risk — the chief villain turns out to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, complete with his fluffy white cat, the Spectre villain that Bond fought in six films, starting with “From Russia With Love.” (Blofeld is also in “Never Say Never Again.”)

But hey, what do I know? Since this is a sequel in the reboot timeline, perhaps these are natural “remake” elements, or simply homages to Bond films past.

The British secret agent with the license to kill seems to be bigger than ever — despite competition from such other current spies as Ethan Hunt (“Mission: Impossible”), Jason Bourne (“The Bourne Identity”) and Jack Ryan (“Clear and Present Danger”). “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service” also threw their respective hats into the ring this year.

But none are likely to seriously challenge the enduring 007 franchise, which is quite an amazing story. Over the years, sequels in other film series have accumulated more entries and plenty of those also switched out actors for the main character — but a 53-year run for a continuous official movie series is quite remarkable. Perhaps a record.

One can quibble about a franchise like Godzilla, which has been in play for more than 60 years, but how many of those 30-something pictures can actually be counted as a film-to-film contiguous series?

Or Tarzan, which began in movies during the silent era and has been the subject of new incarnations as recently as 2013. But the only enduring sequel-to-sequel franchise began in 1932 with Johnny Weissmuller as “Tarzan the Ape Man.” Weissmuller did 11 more films before others took over to keep the series uninterrupted through 1968 — 28 entries across 36 years. (In addition to the official series, another 25 or so Tarzan movies came before, during and after that run.)

Or Sherlock Holmes, said to be the most-filmed fictional character in movie history, with some 250 portrayals ranging from “Sherlock Holmes Baffled” in 1900 to “Mr. Holmes” earlier this year. Yet, only the 14 Basil Rathbone features (filmed over seven years) really qualify as a theatrical franchise, despite a few actors playing Holmes in two or three successive pictures. (Robert Downey Jr. is promising a third in his series).

For Bond, we can exclude the 1967 comedy “Casino Royale” and Connery’s “Never Say Never Again” (a remake of “Thunderball”), as both were produced outside the “official” series.

Which still gives us a continuous run of 24 Bond films over 53 years.

Even if Craig does indeed drop out for No. 25, the Bond franchise will doubtless continue to rule the box office for the foreseeable future.

And perhaps for the unforeseeable future.

Chris Hicks is the author of “Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings.” He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.

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Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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