No Time To Die


Viewed – 13 October 2021 Cinema

The latest outing for Ian Fleming’s famed spy, Daniel Craig reprises his role as the iconic James Bond for the fifth and reportedly final time. Following on from the last movie, Spectre – this finds a now retired Bond living life with new wife Madeline. However after choosing to help out old CIA friend Felix – Bond unexpectedly uncovers a new threat to the world.

Shaken, not stirred…

What we get here certainly follows the usual blueprint … the tricked out car, gunfights, beautiful women, stunning locales. However we also get a great deal of character moments, with Daniel Craig impressing in not only the role of the hero, but as a human being. It’s probably his most layered performance as the character. He’s also aided well by a very good Lea Seydoux as Madeline, Ralph Feinnes’ M and a scene-stealing Ana De Armas as a plucky fellow agent. However a particular stand out is Rami Malek’s very creepy villain.

The main plot is fairly typical and Malek’s motives not all that interesting – and certain bold plot developments didn’t sit right with me. Also Billie Eilish’s theme song is just awful. Yet with a greater focus on character and emotion than I think there’s ever been previously, as well as a fun subplot surrounding a rival female agent… this delivered a great deal of heart and personality amongst the pyrotechnics. A worthy swan-song for Craig as the famed spy and a highly enjoyable, often surprising Bond movie at same time. Check it out.

Verdict: Recommended

Spectre


Viewed – 23 February 2016  Blu-ray

Yep, another big movie I didn’t get around to last year.  And I call myself a Bond fan.  Well here we are then with this latest outing for Daniel Craig as everyone’s favourite British spy.   I have certainly liked Craig as Bond for the most part even if the series has not quite lived up to the ‘Bond for a new generation’ hope gained from Casino Royale.  Subsequent movies seem for me to have instead slipped back into the more tongue-in-cheek traditions of classic Bond.  This is no different, but now you could say I’m getting used to it.

Spectre

Sam Mendes in perhaps a Bond first returns to the helm directing this after the somewhat downbeat Skyfall, and we’re immediately introduced to Bond on a mission in Mexico following a lead to what may uncover a secret criminal organization.  I won’t spoil the details but he’s soon defying MI6 (headed by new ‘M’ Ralph Feinnes after ‘spolier’ Judy Dench’s demise in the last movie) and bedding the women whilst roping in Moneypenny and Q for help.  This time it’s all about the mystery man behind the curtain, a villain who may well be Bond’s greatest adversary.  It’s no secret that current hot property Christophe Waltz is here as a new take of classic character of Blofeld, and to say he knocks it out of the park is an understatement.  Waltz is on brilliantly charismatic / evil form and even though his screen time is limited he elevates this from just another Bond movie into Spectre Bond Girlsomething a bit more special.  Mendes’ direction for the most part is attractive and classy, but his more artistic leanings don’t always suit a more action-heavy movie this time around (could that possibly be the least exciting car chase ever committed to screen?).  Yet thankfully the plot, which moves  fast from one exotic location to the next (Africa, Tangiers, Austria…) leads to a thrilling final act that is up there with the best we’ve seen from this franchise.  Daniel Craig again is decent if somewhat chilled and overly serious (perhaps his only real failing) but still looking the part and with a great down-and-dirty train carriage fist fight, he still more than handles himself as 007.

It still has a few too many nods to yesteryear, much of the humour falls flat, and sometimes it gets a bit silly (smart blood?) … but regardless, 007 hasn’t been this good for a while.  Nice to have you back on form James.

Verdict:  4 /5

Quantum of Solace


Viewed – 11 November 2008  Cinema

Dodgy title aside, what was I expecting from this latest Jame Bond flick?  Well following the rather impressive Casino Royale and the new direction the franchise had taken with the hard-as-nails Daniel Craig defying all expectations and turning out to be the best Bond (yet) – Its easy to say I went into this expecting something damn good.  Even the slightly off-target opening song couldn’t put me off.  So cue car chases, gun fights, lots of smacking of bad guys in the mush and beautiful Bond girls.  But do you know what?  The story is so reliant on having an a-z knowledge of Casino Royale that even this viewer who had not seen the last film since its cinema release, was nearly entirely lost through the running of the film. 

Ok, we have a boo-hiss villain in the shape of French actor Mathieu Amalric, and he’s a well rounded, decent character and a step up from the one-note scuz-ball from Royale…Judi Dench as Bond’s boss ‘M’ steals the show every time she’s on screen (as so she should!), and the action each time its blasted on the screen is eye-meltingly well done and a serious shot to the adrenaline gland.  So why make it so complicated and at the same time, so vague?  This Quantum organisation is only briefly mentioned, making it about as foreboding as Postman Pat, and the villains main evil scheme just sparks of ‘is that it?’ compared to the diabolical plans of Bond villains from the past.  But never mind all that – here’s another action scene!  Really…how long did this one take to write?  One major plus is the amount of believable emotion conveyed here as in Casino Royale and shows how well the new style is working, making Bond a more believable human being and his love-interests much more rounded (no pun intended).

So see it for the action.  See it for Daniel Craig.  But perhaps leave your brain on standby.

Verdict:  3 /5