James Bond Month – Spectre (2015)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista

 

Plot: A cryptic message from 007’s past sends him pitted against a mysterious terrorist organization called Spectre, and learns of its involvement in previous events of his most dangerous missions.


Tagline – The dead are alive

Runtime: 2 Hours 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tries Too Hard to be an Espionage Movie

 

Story: Spectre starts as James Bond (Craig) heads to Mexico in search for his own reasons where he learns about a mysterious terrorist known as the Pale King, he doesn’t leave without causing damage, which forces M (Fiennes) to ground him from active duty.

James goes against orders, going in search of the terrorist group which after his actions in having one of its first meetings in years, to appoint a replacement to the table, where the leader (Waltz) and M have now made James their number one target, forcing James to turn to an old enemy for help.

 

Thoughts on Spectre

 

Characters – James Bond has reached the peak of his experience, he will still break the rules when it comes to tracking down a lead, only now he will need to learn to overcome modern technology placed on him to elude his superiors. James will need to take on Spectre the very group which has been involved in trying to cause chaos in all his mission. Blofeld is the leader of Spectre, the man that has been pulling all the strings, a man that has faked his own death to rise to the position of power, where his ultimate control will see him seek the power to watch the world. Madeleine is the daughter of an old enemy, she has become a target for Spectre, which means she must come out of hiding to work with James, not willing to be one of the women in James’s love life though. M is trying to keep James in line, while also dealing with the ideas that somebody C is trying to push through a new surveillance that would see the 00 branch closed. Hinx is the main hitman that is tracking down James, his is the silent type, that is bigger, more powerful and even smart, a pure brute of a hitman.

PerformancesDaniel Craig continues to not put a foot wrong in this role, handling the action and giving the cold responses to anything asked of him. Christoph Waltz just doesn’t reach the levels we know he can, it is partly because the character isn’t given the deserved time though. Lea Seydoux does well in her role, but often takes second fiddle to the scenes with Daniel in surrounding the action moments. Ralph Fiennes does step into this role well, while Dave Bautista does make for one of the more memorable hitmen in the Craig era of Bond.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond on his latest mission, which sees him coming face to face with one of the most famous villains in the franchise history Blofeld who has had hand in each of the missions he has been involved in. The base of this James Bond mission is everything we have seen before, seeing him travelling the world to fight the villain of the piece, the problem with the storytelling comes from focusing too heavily on the side part of the film which sees M needing to prove the worth of the 00 branch which is connected to the bigger picture, but takes away the reason we enjoy these films about an all out action spy star. The fact the story does continue to operate in a universe where each film is connected is also a big plus because the consequences of the actions in the previous films are being felt throughout this one.

Action/AdventureThe action in this outing does once again give us a brilliant opening sequence, which slowly turns into enhanced versions of what we have seen before through the franchise, though we do get more of a feel of an adventure here, with the locations James visits.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to give us the unique moments in the film, be it the opening in Mexico, the Austrian mountain range or the Italian meeting place, they all give the film a unique look at how everything unfolds.


Scene of the Movie –
Mexico City.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Monica Bellucci is criminally underused.

Final ThoughtsThis is an entertaining Bond movie, when it comes to the spy side of everything nothing feels out of place, but as soon as we start looking at side stories, things start to fizzle out.

 

Overall: Entertaining Bond Outing.

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – Skyfall (2012)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney

 

Plot: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Most Intense Bond Film

 

Story: Skyfall starts as James Bond (Craig) and Eve (Harris) working on the latest daring mission which ends in failure with James killed in action after an order from M (Dench). M finds herself being forced into early retirement by Gareth Mallory (Fiennes) with her wanting to clean up the failures of her last mission, which brings James out of his hiding to return to help M with the missing information which could expose every spy in every terrorist organisation.

James must travel to Shanghai and look into M’s past for answers as the identities have started to leak online targeting M for her past sins, James will come face to face with Silva (Bardem) a former agent hellbent on revenge for being abandoned.

 

Thoughts on Skyfall

 

Characters – James Bond has a different arc to the normal, this time he has semi-retired after being killed in action, he doesn’t stay retired for long as he needs to prove he is ready to return to action, as he will need to go face to face with a former agent who has gone rogue. This does continue the arc of learning who James can trust which keeps the character feeling like he has continued his own story, rather than just being on another mission. M is left to make the difficult decision which sees James killed in action, her actions put her in the firing line of the government who want her replaced, she isn’t going to leave her post without cleaning up her latest mission failure, but she doesn’t want any more innocent people killed, it is her past that is causing the actions of Silva, she knows she made the right call with him and now trust James to fix the problems caused. Silva is a vengeful former agent that has put together a plan to bring down M for what he believes was her abandoning him to be tortured by the enemy country. He has spent years putting this plan together and isn’t going to let James be the one to bring him down. Gareth Mallory is the man assigned to create the transition between M and her replacement, he understands the middle ground and isn’t going to accept what is best for the country. Eve is the field agent that has been working with James, only for her to be the connection to help from the headquarters. Severeine is the woman that James uses to get close to Silva, we really don’t get enough from this character though.

PerformancesDaniel Craig continues to grow into the James Bond character, he handles the action with ease, shows the determination required through the film. Judi Dench gets the biggest role for the character of M, she is fantastic in this role never looking out of place showing that a person of power can become vulnerable. Javier Bardem does make a delightfully evil villain that has his own plan for revenge. Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris both provide great supporting performance, only Berenice Marlohe doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond as he must work with M to bring down a man that is determined to get revenge against her and is always one step ahead of the two. This is easily the most personal and intense story we have seen in any James Bond story, this is refreshing because we don’t get a villain who want money or destruction, they want one person to pay for their own action. The idea to dive into James’s past is interesting, it shows how he was selected in the first place, only it isn’t the best idea when you think back to the idea that each actor could be a different agent with the same code name. This story does have moments that wink to the previous films which is enjoyable to pick up on them.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does take centre stage, the opening sequence is the best in the franchise, the rest are filled with high octane chases through cities where it feels like we are watching stakes on the line.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings on the simpler side, with most of the film being set in London which shows how personal this has become against M. when we hit the final act, we do get another unusual location that previous ones haven’t had before.


Scene of the Movie –
Was that meant for me?

That Moment That Annoyed Me Going too personal about James’s past.

Final ThoughtsThis is the most intense Bond film to date, it puts different stakes on the line which is refreshing to see and is easily the one that standouts from the rest in the franchise.

 

Overall: High Octane Action Film.

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – Quantum of Solace (2008)

Director: Marc Forster

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

Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright

 

Plot: James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organization from eliminating a country’s most valuable resource.


Tagline – Have Regrets. Get Revenge.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Sequel

 

Story: Quantum of Solace starts right after the events of Casino Royale, James Bond (Craig) is searching for the organization that was controlling the events of the previous film. James is teaming up with M (Dench) only to learn the true scale of the organizations reach.

James travels to Haiti where he meets Camille (Kurylenko) a woman working with Dominic Greene (Amalric) who has been planning making a fortune on his own desires within the organization, Bond does continue to break the rules pushing M to the limits of her acceptance.

 

Thoughts on Quantum of Solace

 

Characters – James Bond is filled with vengeance after what happened in Casino Royale, he wants to hunt down the people involved within in the organization, he starts to go rogue in the eyes of the people in MI6, which sees him killing people before getting the information desired. He will go above the duty to get the people involved. Camille is the lady dating Dominic Greene, she has her own reason for being close to him and ends up working with James to get her own revenge on the organization. Dominic Greene has been working within the organization, he has a plan which will see him gain control of the nature resource with the idea to hold a country to ransom for the resource. He isn’t the most interesting villain in the franchise becoming of the more forgettable. M continues to get a large role within the franchise, here she is trying to decide whether to keep James in the field or not, getting tired of him breaking the rules.

PerformancesDaniel Craig does continue to handle the action side of the film well, he could easily be an action spy without the big name slapped to his character. Olga Kurylenko is fine as a Bond girl, she doesn’t get to bring anything overly new to the role though. Mathieu Amalric doesn’t get enough to work with for his villainous role, he is largely forgettable, though this isn’t about his performance. Judi Dench has suddenly become the most interesting character in this franchise, which is strange and you do want to see all her scenes.

StoryThe story continues to follow the first mission from James Bond as he has unfinished business with how that ended, he must investigate the organization that happens to be bigger than MI6 even knew about. By having a continuing story both works in the films advantage and against it, because you wouldn’t be able to watch this one without seeing the previous one, though it is nice to see a word building process happening. Keeping James on his first mission does continue to make the story feel fresh because we are seeing just how many reckless decisions he will be making through the mission. When it comes to the villain, we get a largely forgettable motive and he never feels like a danger to James.

Action/AdventureThe action continues to be the highlight of the film, we a much more edge of your seat feeling to the chase sequences being used in the film, with the adventure side of the film continues to take James around the world.

SettingsThe settings in the film takes James around the world to investigate the organization.


Scene of the Movie –
Roof top running.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The villain being forgettable.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sequel that works well for the franchise because it continues to show us how James is learning from his mistakes on the job.

 

Overall: Sequel that helps the franchise.

Rating

 

 

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 Weekend – Die Another Day (2002)

Director: Lee Tamahori

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (Screenplay)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, Judi Dench, John Cleese

 

Plot: James Bond is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul, who is funding the development of an international space weapon.


Tagline – Events don’t get any bigger than..

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weakest of Brosnan’s Bonds

 

Story: Die Another Day starts as James Bond (Brosnan) is captured by the North Korean army, he is tortured for 14 months before getting traded back for brother of man he was training to capture Zao (Yune). Taken off duty, James goes solo in search for Zao, which sees him meet Jinx (Berry) who is on her own secret mission against Zao.

The investigation leads James towards the diamond trade, with Gustav Graves (Stephens) becoming the main focus of the investigation, Gustav has a huge reputation and soon James gets close to learn what his master plan is all about.

 

Thoughts on Die Another Day

 

Characters – James Bond finds himself captured in this outing, tortured for months for information, never giving up any secrets. Once he is traded, he is taken off active duty, but wants to go in search of the man traded for him, it shows him working more covertly trying to take down Gustav, who he believes will lead him to his target. Jinx is the mysterious stranger that James meets on his mission, she is on her own mission against Zao. Gustav Graves is a diamond mogul that has risen to fame with a brand-new secret project in the works, this has captured the attention of James who is in search of his secret. Miranda Frost is the PR woman for Gustav, she is also undercover from MI6 one of her first missions.

PerformancesPierce Brosnan does everything right in his role, he never looks out of place in what would be his final outing. Halley berry brings us a much strong American performance which was needed after the last film. Toby Stephens makes for a basic Bond villain, he does have to play a slightly more complicated role than we have seen before. Rosamund Pike does the best she can with her role, she does get a fight sequence though.

StoryThe latest adventure of James Bond takes things to a darker tone than before, because we see how he is captured and held for a long period of time, no easy escape meaning he will need to figure out how to get his payback once he is released, which sees him hunting down a diamond mogul. This does continue our trend of James needing to work with someone to stop the villainous plan, everything tends to play out as you would imagine, with the only part that feels fresh being the idea that James isn’t easily freed from his captive state.

Action/AdventureThe action here is mixed to say the least, when we have the practical action this is entertaining and even the best scenes in the movie, when we get to the CGI moments it is horrible to watch.

SettingsThe film does return to the exotic location with Cuba and Iceland being the stand out locations of the film.

Special EffectsThis is the first Bond film where the effects need to be discussion because we have some of the worst you will ever see in any film, the tidal wave scene and the invisible car just look pathetic.

Scene of the Movie – Ice car chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That Tidal Wave.

Final ThoughtsThis is another film in he Bond franchise that just doesn’t deliver, it has some entertaining action sequences, but the CGI moments almost make moments laughable.

 

Overall: Disappointing Another Day

Rating