The latest Bond film was released in a blaze of publicity in the UK on Monday and hits screens worldwide next week. Sam Mendes directs again, attempting to top the success of 2012’s Skyfall — the highest-grossing British movie ever — with a cast of thousands, a succession of exotic locations and a budget of $300m.
The storyline is peripatetic even by Bond’s usual globetrotting standards, travelling between the UK, Mexico, Italy, Morocco and Austria. The opening sequence is a spectacular aerial set-piece in which Bond dangles from a helicopter over the Zócalo, Mexico City’s vast central plaza. While he fights for his life, a Day of the Dead parade is in full swing in the square beneath him, a scene for which 1,500 extras were recruited.
No Bond film is complete without a car chase and the action moves swiftly to Rome, where 007’s Aston Martin DB10 tears along the banks of the Tiber and through the narrow alleyways around the Piazza Navona. Other Roman landmarks include the 15th-century Ponte Sisto footbridge and the Museum of Roman Civilisation (en.museociviltaromana.it), whose soaring colonnades stand in for a mausoleum in a funeral scene.
Some of the most challenging conditions were experienced while filming in the Austrian Alps in winter. Blizzards halted production for a few days, forcing the crew to hole up at the Hotel Seevilla (seevilla.at) on the shores of Lake Altaussee; then Craig injured his knee while filming a fight scene near the ski resort of Sölden. This is the setting for one of the film’s most spectacular locations — the Ice Q, a futuristic glass-and-steel mountaintop restaurant that doubles in the film as a private medical clinic (soelden.com/iceq).
The cast and crew also swapped the sub-zero temperatures of the Tyrol for the sweltering souks of Morocco. The port city of Tangiers was a haunt of Bond author Ian Fleming and its atmospheric medina features in several key scenes. Filming also took place on board the distinctive red and yellow carriages of the Oriental Desert Express train, which runs from Oujda to the desert city of Bouarfa.
Where to stay
Follow in the footsteps of the stars by checking into Mexico City’s five-star Gran Hotel Ciudad, overlooking the Zócalo, the location for Spectre’s jaw-dropping pre-title sequence (granhoteldelaciudaddemexico.com.mx). In Rome, Daniel Craig is rumoured to have stayed at the opulent Boscolo Exedra Roma (exedra-roma.boscolohotels.com) and he and Monica Bellucci were spotted dining with the crew at Dal Bolognese (dalbolognese.it/en), one of the city’s most famous hang-outs. In Tangiers, Christoph Waltz (who plays the film’s villain) stayed at the El Minzah Hotel (leroyal.com/morocco), which is also where Ian Fleming stayed in 1957 while researching his book The Diamond Smugglers.