James Bond Month – Casino Royale (2006)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian

 

Plot: Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.


Tagline – The new Bond. Living for Love. Dying for Thrills.

Runtime: 2 Hours 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mission Impossible Bond Edition

 

Story: Casino Royale starts with James Bond (Craig) going on hi very first mission as the 007 which sees him look to track down a bomb making that is being financed by an unknown terrorist, James builds his own style which M (Dench) doesn’t agree with, though she does reluctantly leave him in the field to search for the banker, Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen).

James must work with Vesper Lynd (Green) to get close to Le Chiffre, in a hope to get information about the people he works with, James goes undercover in a mega stakes poker game in Montenegro.

 

Thoughts on Casino Royale

 

Characters – James Bond is back, only this time it is the first mission, he isn’t like the previous 00’s being more reckless than they are used to seeing, he must use his poker skills to take down a dangerous banker that is working with terrorists and learn the his ego can’t get in the way of his mission. This is the biggest lesson he will need to learn as a 00. Vesper Lynd is the British agent that is working with James, she decides whether he is allowed to spend more money, almost keeping on an eye on him for M. Le Chiffre is the banker for terrorists, he plays the stock market on their actions making him one of the most powerful men in the world, his weakness is that he likes to play poker at the high stakes end. M picks the agents, she has put James in the field and now she is left to decide whether she has made the right decision.

PerformancesDaniel Craig does brings us an entertaining tough agent character, though he never feels like he is James Bond, yes it is his first mission, but this performance could easily have been an original agent figure. Eva Green while looks beautiful doesn’t get the full Bond girl treatment and doesn’t get to make the biggest impact in the film. Mads Mikkelsen is a great villain, but he is easy to place in any film as the villain. Judi Dench continued to make a big impact in the Bond franchise with his being her best outing to date.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond going on his first mission for MI6, one which will see his skills at a poker table being used to get close a mastermind banker for terrorists. The story here is an interesting spin on the Bond franchise because we have always seen James as an established agent, seeing his first mission unfolding, shows us his imperfections as an agent, this is the biggest strength. The basics of getting close to the villain is one we have always seen and understand works for the franchise. It is when the story decides to become more like a Mission Impossible story than a Bond story which can take us away from the story. the poker scenes are also very difficult to watch because they just never come off as believable.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is amongst the best in the franchise, we have stunt based action too with one of the most memorable sequences coming from the opening of the film. the adventure side of the film takes James around the world in his hunt for Le Chiffre.

SettingsThe film uses a few main settings, we get the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro and Venice as our world tour.


Scene of the Movie –
opening chase sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening credits are awful.

Final ThoughtsThis is a new start for the Bond franchise, it does go in a different direction, only it does feel like it just wants to become the British version of the more aggressive spy movies like Mission Impossible and Jason Bourne.

 

Overall: Bond only more serious.

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – GoldenEye (1995)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Jeffrey Caine, Bruce Feirstein (Screenplay) Michael France (Story)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane

 

Plot: James Bond teams up with the lone survivor of a destroyed Russian research center to stop the hijacking of a nuclear space weapon by a fellow Agent formerly believed to be dead.


Tagline – When the world is the target and the threat is real, you can still depend on one man. 

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Most Action Packed Bond

 

Story: GoldenEye starts with James Bond (Brosnan) joined by 006 Alec Trevelyan (Bean) on the latest mission, one that goes wrong, seeing Alec executed and James escaping. James starts his latest mission 9-years-later investigating a Georgian woman Xenia Onatopp (Janssen) who has connections to a criminal group operating in Russia.

When the group launch their first attack, James must search for the lone survive Natalya Simonova (Scorupco), first to find out what was being worked on in the apparent abandon satellite facility and soon stop an old friend that has changed sides.

 

Thoughts on GoldenEye

 

Characters – James Bond still sees himself, charming the ladies, completing the missions, enjoying a drink. This latest mission will see him come face to face with an old friend, which will see him face his toughest enemy, a man he once trusted. Alec Trevelyan is the fellow 00 agent who James believed died in action. He didn’t and now he has been working with the Russians to become richer than God (his words), he does hold a grudge against James, with this being a chance to kill two birds with one stone, he will become the most difficult enemy to face because of his knowledge of how James operates. Natalya works in the satellite facility, she becomes a target after not being killed, which makes her one of the few people in the world that could disarm the bomb that is being planned to be released. Xenia Onatopp is the henchwoman in this case, military trained, willing to kill anybody, she even enjoys killing her victims.

PerformancesPierce Brosnan in his first outing as Bond is great to watch, he mixes the charm of the most popular, with the action presence needing to make the character his own. Sean Bean brings us one of the best villains to the franchise, he makes his character feel like a try terrorist over super villain. Famke Janssen as the henchwoman is strong, she does make the character her own, but it is the lack of character behind Izabella Scorupco that struggles the most in this film.

StoryThe story here sees James take on one of his closest enemies, in Alec a former agent turned terrorist that is planning on sending England back to the stone age. This story does seem to bring everything into a more personal level for James, it feels fresh from the last few outings, it does have the longest gap between the film to date. We do seem to have the most realistic battle between hero and villain because Alec could easily be James himself if he was to turn, they know each other’s tricks. For me this is easily the most entertaining story we have seen, as we do start to lose some of he sexist behaviour James was known for.

Action/AdventureThe action in this film is easily the best the franchise has offered to date, we have the tank chase through St Petersburg before the train collision with a tank, even the fight sequences feel more intense in this film. The adventure takes James around the world once more, this time we go through Russia and Cuba to save the world.

SettingsThe settings takes us to the known locations we are used to seeing, this does however have one of the most memorable endings in any Bond film with the hidden satellite dish.


Scene of the Movie –
The old friend returns.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Alan Cumming’s generic Russian accent.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best Bond movie in the franchise to date, it has the most intense villain for James to face and a personal story for James to take on.

 

Overall: Pure action entertainment.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – E – Edge of Darkness (2010)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell (Screenplay) Troy Kennedy-Martin (Original Television show)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts, David Aaron Baker, Jay O Sanders

 

Plot: As homicide detective Thomas Craven investigates the death of his activist daughter, he uncovers not only her secret life, but a corporate cover-up and government collusion that attracts an agent tasked with cleaning up the evidence.


Tagline – Few escape justice. None escape vengeance.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Crime Thriller

 

Story: Edge of Darkness starts when Craven (Gibson) get to spend his daughter Emma (Novakovic) only for an unknown gunman killing her on his doorstep, Craven being a homicide detective isn’t allowed to investigate the case for legal reasons, so he decides to go against the law in his search for the murderer.

The early signs make it looks like Craven himself was the target, but it soon comes to light that it might be Emma’s work for a government company run by Jack Bennett (Huston) that might have made her the target and the deeper he digs the more he learns about his daughter.

 

Thoughts on Edge of Darkness

 

Characters – Craven is a respect homicide detective, everyone in the force knows just how capable of solving a murder he can be, but when his own daughter is murdered, he starts to go against the law to figure out who and why she was murdered. He will not stop at anything to locate the truth and take out the people that murdered his daughter. Jedburgh is an English man that will help Craven fill in the gaps, while trying to keep him away from the answers, he has been hired to make sure the investment stays safe, without building up a body count. Jack Bennett runs the company that Emma works for, he knows how to answer questions to keep the press happy, while keeping the shady operations under wraps. Emma is the daughter that Craven is delighted to spend time with once again, only she gets murdered and it is her life before this meeting that we get to see her in.

PerformancesMel Gibson might well have had his problems in Hollywood, but when it comes to crime thrillers, he is in his element always shining in these roles without ever looking out of place, and demanding the screen whenever he steps on screen. Ray Winstone is great in his role, which only seems to be around for the calmer or criminal sides of the film. Danny Huston is an actor that can play a villain in his sleep and this is no different, he brings the smug figure to life here. Bojana Novakovic is great in her smaller role which doesn’t need to get much more screen time to add to the story.

StoryThe story here follows a homicide detective that starts to investigate the murder of his daughter only to find himself in the middle of a much bigger conspiracy that puts his own life in danger. This story starts off looking like it is going to be a revenge like movie because of how the first murder happens only to become a big conspiracy movie that offers up plenty of miss-direction as we lead to the truth. Any story that can keep you guessing and let try to figure out the ending yourself is an entertaining watch, with the outcome not even needing to be spoon fed to us either. This might well be a remake of a television show, but it plays into the modern ideas and works with how the conspiracy could be relevant for today’s climate.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film starts by just looking like a murder, it soon dives into cover ups, conspiracy and secret groups which shows how the government might go about trying to cover up a secret. The mystery in the film comes from just how the conspiracy keeps managing to unfold to expose more truth about what Emma was involved in.

SettingsThe film uses the Boston setting to show how many crimes have been committed in this stricter state which does show us just how big of a conspiracy needs covering up.


Scene of the Movie –
Riverside meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It would have been nice to see more of Jedburgh.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderfully intense crime thriller that does keep you guessing throughout the film, we get strong performance throughout and a story that has been modernized without looking out of place.

 

Overall: Hugely entertaining crime thriller.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – V – Vertical Limit (2000)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Robert King, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Robert King (Story)

Starring: Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Temuera Morrison, Ben Mendelsohn, Alexander Siddig, Izabella Scorupco

 

Plot: A climber must rescue his sister on top of K2, one of the world’s biggest mountains.


Tagline – Hold Your Breath

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Edge of your Seat Thriller

 

Story: Vertical Limit starts with the personal climb tragedy that Peter (O’Donnell) and Annie (Tunney) go through, the siblings go their separate ways, three years later work brings them back together on K2, as Annie is part of billionaire Elliot Vaughn’s (Paxton) team planning to climb to the top for an advertising opportunity.

When the weather turns, the crew on the mountain gets thrown into a cave in the middle of the mountain with no escape, Peter will now lead a team to rescue his sister in a race against time and the weather.

 

Thoughts on Vertical Limit

 

Characters – Peter is the brother of Annie, he had to make a difficult decision which led to his father’s death becoming distant from his sister in the process, now a wildlife photographer in extreme conditions which reunites them on K2, when she becomes trapped, Peter puts together a team to rescue her before it is too late. Annie is the sister and just as experienced climber ass Peter, she works on K2 for the billionaire that arranges tours, she has records on climbing the mountain too. She is on the team which gets trapped on the mountain, needing to remain in control while the rest look to survive. Montgomery Wick is the expert climber that has spent years searching for his lost wife on the mountain, he doesn’t work with others unless it is a rescue mission, he will get Peter to his location at the quickest pace. Elliot Vaughn is the billionaire that climbs for money, this expedition is planned as a marketing campaign for his new airline, he doesn’t care about lives as much as the other people on the mountain.

PerformancesChris O’Donnell in the leading role is good, he shows the knowledge while the innocent panic one would have while trying to save a loved one, Robin Tunney shows the strength needed for her part spending most of the film opposite Paxton who once again showed why he could become any role in a film. Scott Glenn gets the strongest scenes because of his outside persona created by his character, which does need a moment of emotional strength.

StoryThe story here follows sibling mountain climbers that have become distant after a tragedy, now one must rescue the other one on one of the most dangerous mountains in the world K2. This is a survivor story which shows how dangerous in the first-place mountain climbing is and just how much more dangerous rescue mission can be. Each character in the film has their own reason for being on the mountain which gives us a reason to follow and support each character through the mission, though this does end up feeling strange when we see what happens to most of the rescue team. For the most part this is a simple to follow story that does the directions most survival movies go without needing to make anything complicated, showing us the good and bad in people.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences in this film are fantastic, clearly the highlight of the film, we see the climbers hanging on for dear life, avalanches and explosion which the teams must survive, which plays into the adventure of climbing one of the most dangerous mountains in the world.

SettingsThe settings in the film only make this more breath-taking, the views from the mountain, mixed with the locations the people are trapped or climbing show us just how dangerous this is.

Special EffectsThe effects are weak though, we have one moment with a helicopter where you can almost make out that it is shaking like a rodeo machine.


Scene of the Movie –
Learning about the explosives in the sun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The forced foreshadowing from the opening sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable survival movie which will grab to the edge of your seat from the moment things go wrong until the gripping conclusion.

 

Overall: Survival Film at its best.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Legend of Zorro (2005)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman (Screenplay) Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio (Story)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Nick Chinlund, Adrian Alonso

 

Plot: Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California’s pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) — and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) — to take action.


Tagline – This Fall, adventure begins with a Z.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Become a Parody of Itself

 

Story: The Legend of Zorro starts as Don Alejandro (Banderas) is still riding under the mask of Zorro, his wife Elena (Zeta-Jones) wants him to retire the mask and be the father to their son Joaquin (Alonso), with his desire to continue to help California prepare for the statehood, has put a strain on their relationship.

When the two go through a divorce, Elena starts dating Armand (Sewell) from Spain looking to make a vineyard only he has other plans which only Zorro could stop.

 

Thoughts on The Legend of Zorro

 

Characters – Alejandro is Zorro, he has been working on trying to retire, but America needs him, he is left with a hard choice on whether to protect the land or be there for his father. He choices wrong and ends up falling back in the same circle he once did, before needing to put the mask on again to save California. Elena is the wife of Alejandro that wants him to give up the life, when he doesn’t, she divorces him to go under cover with an old family friend that has moved to the area, who has his own ideas. For some reason this character goes in a different direction from the stronger figure we met in the first film. Armand has moved to California to open a vineyard, he has stolen Elena from Alejandro and now he has bigger plans for America, which brings Zorro out of his retirement.

PerformancesAntonio Banderas has all the right parts to make this character legendary, he just struggles to make the impact we know he can this time, this follows Catherine Zeta-Jones who disappoints too as we know she could lead the film with ease. Rufus Sewell does a solid enough job in the villainous role, though he never makes his character feel like a threat.

StoryThe story takes place 10 years after the first movie, this does work for the film because it takes us to a time where the couple have a child and must decide what to do (following in the Mummy’s footsteps here) with their future adventures. The decision-making process shows us just how important the figure of Zorro has become to the people and just how difficult walking away from it would be for the city. The problem comes with the tone of the story which seems to just spend more time watching the couple bicker it just takes everything out of the life of the story.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action continues to bring us the sword swing fights we are used to seeing from the Zorro character, with a stronger final chase, this doesn’t seem to offer much new to the western action genre, with the adventure that we go on, never seeming like it will go anywhere new for the characters. the romance is the most annoying part of the film because it just focuses on the bickering between the characters.

SettingsThe film is set in the early stages of California which never looks out of place for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Train chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bickering.

Final ThoughtsThis is not on the same level as the previous film, it feels like it wants to be taken seriously, only for it to become somewhat of a parody of itself.

 

Overall: Disappointing sequel.

Rating