The James Bond Reviews - Page 4
The Daniel Craig Era
Daniel Craig plays James Bond as more human than any of his predecessors, and it perfectly matches the grittier, more intense tone these movies strike. Of all the versions of Bond, Craig's is the one I'd least like to meet in real life, but the one most likely to exist in a world where the double-0 program is needed. He's more physically imposing than Connery, but more emotionally vulnerable than Dalton. He lacks the class of Moore or the shine of Brosnan, but he has the coolest sense of style. Craig may not look like the Bonds before him, but in my book, he is the best Bond of them all, and I sincerely hope he makes at least one more film before retiring from the role.
Theme Song: "You Know My Name" by Chris Cornell
Villains: Mr. White, Le Chiffre
Henchmen: Alex Dimitrios, Carlos
Bond girl: Vesper Lynd
THE JIST: As the newly minted 007, James Bond follows the trail of a dead bomb-maker to the luxurious Casino Royale, where an incredible poker game will determine the fate of not only Bond himself, but also of one of the world's greatest financiers of terrorism. Along the way, he meets Vesper Lynd, a British Treasury agent sent with him to protect the government's money, and she may just change James Bond forever.
THE VERDICT: Though it saps much of the joy from the franchise by eradicating almost all of the silliness that had bogged it down, Casino Royale is more than just a sexy reboot for the franchise, but also one of the best Bond films ever made, if not the best. The action scenes are incredible, the parkour is brilliant, the acting is at the series' pinnacle, and the story is coherent, logical, and character-driven. This is one of the few movies in which Bond himself is a dynamic and flawed character driving the plot forward, and the way it sets him up for becoming the Bond we all know from previous films is incredibly clever.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE|
Theme Song: "Another Way to Die" by Jack White and Alicia Keys
Villains: Dominic Greene, General Medrano
Bond girls: Strawberry Fields, Camille Montes
THE JIST: Immediately after the events of Casino Royale, 007 unearths the existence of a frightening criminal organization, known as Quantum, with its hands in everything. As M struggles to keep his emotions and methods in check, James Bond tracks environmental activist Dominic Greene, a member of Quantum with treacherous plans of his own.
THE VERDICT: After the refreshing awesomeness of Casino Royale, this is an enormous let-down. Victim of a writer's strike and an insistence by the studio to move forward without a fully realized script, this movie is badly paced and awkwardly filmed, with a story that feels like it needs a lot of work. The action sequences are terrible in comparison as well, relying too much on fast edits, handheld cameras, and a gross misunderstanding of basic physics. That said, it's not a complete waste. Olga Kurylenko is an interesting female lead, the brisk pace keeps things moving fast enough to overlook the flaws, and the Opera scene is one of the best set-ups in the entire Daniel Craig era.
Theme Song: "Skyfall" by Adele
Villain: Raoul Silva
Bond girl: Séverine
THE JIST: After nearly dying in the line of duty, 007 returns when a techno-terrorist with a vendetta against M takes down MI6 headquarters. Bond apprehends the terrorist, Raoul Silva, on a remote island off the coast of Macau, but it turns out that Silva's capture was just one more step in his plans.
THE VERDICT: Skyfall is a strong Bond movie that feels like, at the start, it has completed the character arc from Casino Royale and turned Daniel Craig into James Bond. It's odd, then, that after relying so much on Craig's freshness for a mere two movies and all but announcing that he is finally the Bond we remember, they suddenly turn him into an aging, weakened, and cynical spy on the verge of forced retirement. There is clever dialogue, a fascinating story for M, a great new Q, and an excellent villain who is both fun and terrifying. However, the plot goes off the rails multiple times, relying on a villainous scheme that contains narry a hint of logic or reasonability, and the plot borrows a little too heavily from The World is Not Enough and The Dark Knight. Director Sam Mendes lets his movie get a little bloated and self-important, too, but a good cast and some very impressive action scenes make it all worth it.
Theme Song: "Writing's on the Wall" by Sam Smith
Villain: Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Henchman: Mr. Hinx
Bond girls: Madeleine Swann, Lucia Sciarra
THE JIST: On secret orders from M from beyond the grave, James Bond unmasks the organization responsible for nearly every terrorist event of the last decade, Spectre, and the man in charge of it, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He may be too late, however, as the double-0 program is being scuttled and Spectre is on the cusp of taking over the espionage business once and for all.
THE VERDICT: This is the movie Quantum of Solace should have been. It has a spectacular opening sequence and plays kind of like Daniel Craig revisiting many of early Bond's greatest hits, like the brawl on a train from From Russia With Love, the Roman funeral from Thunderball (alas, without the jetpack), the spy chase through a parade of people dressed like skeletons from Live and Let Die, and more than a few references to On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice. Christoph Waltz does a good Blofeld; Craig is comfortable in his skin; the action scenes are memorable; the supporting players get much well-deserved attention; and Mr. Hinx is a great Jaws-esque henchman. On the other hand, it does make a few goofy plot choices, like unnecessarily tying Blofeld to every previous Daniel Craig movie. An even greater sin, though, is totally shattering Blofeld's mystique by making him sort-of related to Bond and having his motivation boil down to jealousy over daddy's affections. Also, Léa Seydoux, while a perfectly serviceable Bond girl, doesn't have nearly enough chemistry with Daniel Craig to be anything but set dressing, and it is hard to forgive hiring the great Monica Bellucci only to give her a small, insubstantial role.
-e. magill 2/10/2016