Saturday, 3 November 2012


 When we hear the word 'franchise', we often shiver as we think back to the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' series, or 'Saw', or 'Friday the 13th', or 'The Grudge', or any horror movie series - yes, that includes 'High School Musical'. But we often neglect a series that have been going for longer than most of my readers have been alive. I'm sure you're aware where I'm going with this, but if you're not, nine people have played the title character over 23 (official) films and he takes his Martini shaken, not stirred. Yes, it's James Bond and his new adventure, Skyfall.

The film opens with one of MI6's top secret agents, 007, or James Bond (Daniel Craig) , trying to chase down a possible terrorist (Ola Rapace) who has managed to get his hands on a hard drive that contains the names of undercover field operatives and the gangs they are in, information that could make MI6 simply crumble. Fighting on top of a train, Bond struggles to get the hard drive and his partner, Eve (Naomie Harris), lines up a shot - not a clean shot - at the suspect. M (Judie Dench) insists that she takes the shot and Bond goes down. The suspect escapes. Cue opening titles. M's authority is in question by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), Bond is alive but hidden away, and computer genius, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), is causing some major issues for MI6. Fearing the country he loves is in danger, Bond returns to England and begins to follow the only trail they have to find Silva - the bullet in his shoulder. With a new, young Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him out, 007 will do whatever it will take to protect his Queen, Country, and, most importantly, M, providing he can stay a step ahead of his enemies at all times.

Bond really had to train for this mission

At 43 years old at the time of filming, one may think that Daniel Craig is getting a bit old for Bond (especially with another two films on his contract), well you would be wrong. Craig still performs with all the style and swag that Bond should have. Yet, when he has a busted shoulder from a bullet, we see that pain when he does anything physical - something commonly overlooked in action films; bullets actually hurt for more than five minutes. His age ties perfectly into his performance with lots of references back to the good old days of exploding pens and ejector seats but, as Mallory states, few 00 agents get out cleanly, they go until they die. You don't get too old to be an agent, you die younger. There's a real sentimentality in both Dench and Craig as the plot develops a true heart - again, something often missed by action flicks - and a new, more fresh connection with these characters is created. They are no longer agents who simply do their job (and engage in the occasional bedroom activity), but they have a past, a set of emotions, and a heart.  Javier Bardem, who we all know can be a fantastic villain (see No Country For Old Men), once again holds up his reputation of being simply amazing. Switching between dark and vicious to manically laughing at his own little plans, he captures everything that Silva should be: mentally unstable, dedicated, determined, a genius, hurt, and broken. One of the best Bond villains in a long time. Smart, crazed, and vengeful... What more could you want? Also, a special mention to Ben Whishaw, who was a brilliant new Q and worked incredibly with Craig's Bond. Not only a genius, but also a very witty character and one that, no doubt, everyone will want to see again.

This film hard some real 'art

The thing that really stood out for this film, like most Bonds, was the exceedingly well coordinated and choreographed action and fighting. From the very beginning, the action was full of suspense and was completely breathtaking. There was no way anyone in the audience could draw their eyes from the screen during a fight or a chase because it was simply too engaging. It also didn't stray too much towards camp action which a lot of the older Bonds do contain (inflating henchmen, giant lasers). While it wasn't camp, it was very funny. Definitely the wittiest of the Daniel Craig Bond films. The fun lines didn't seem out of place at all or forced in anyway, it was completely organic. Sam Mendes really knew what he was doing when he put the film together. A complex plot that didn't get confusing which is where Quantum of Solace failed.

Back to the standard of Casino Royale, if not surpassing it, and a really enjoyable watch. A definite must see. Bond is, quite simply, back. And he will return.

Best Bit? Just watching Silva's plan unfold was so interesting and fascinating. Really good writing.

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