All film reviews are spoiler territory. Proceed at your own risk.
I took a break from Violent Blue finally caught up with the newest Bond film last weekend. I’m hearing a great number of positive reviews. Some say it’s the best Bond ever.
I certainly think it’s the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films. The action is well done and it has the same gritty feel as the previous ones. However it also does some things I really appreciated to make it feel more like a traditional Bond film. Most notably is the reintroduction of key characters like Q and Moneypenny.
It’s interesting to see them give Moneypenny a deeper background. I had thought that we had actually gotten some character development during the Brosnen era, especially with some of her flirtatious rejections of Bond, the smarter short haircut…I hadn’t realized how two dimensional the character really was until I saw what Naomie Harris did with the role. I love that the character now used to be a field agent and has some real understanding of the Spy world rather than merely being a secretary. I enjoy Naomie Harris much more in this role than I did in 28 Days later by the way.
What was done with Q was a stroke of genius. Perhaps that’s overstating it, but the decision to go with a young geeky actor instead of an old absent minded professor type is a really good one. It avoids comparisons with Desmond Llewelyn which just can not come out well, and actually managed to kind of sidestep the inherent goofiness of Q branch. I bought the character immediately and really loved him. It’s reminiscent of what they did when they replaced M with Judi Dench.
Ah, Judi Dench.
I’m not a Bond fanboy and hadn’t been following the making of this movie. Dench’s death took me completely off-guard, but it was so remarkably well done that I can’t fault it. I’ll miss her greatly, but I think Ralph Fines was an excellent choice for the replacement. He almost has a classic Bond feel to him.
My biggest complaints on this movie are twofold. First, I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Craig. I just don’t like him as bond. He’s too ugly for the role. I don’t buy women throwing themselves at him the way they are supposed to do with Bond. Pierce Brosnen? I’d almost sleep with him myself. Craig, nah. He never looks right in a suit. To their credit, the previous films have kept him out of suits for most of the film, but he wears one ALOT in this one. It just doesn’t work on him. Brosnen, Dalton, Connery, they could wear anything and it looked right. Craig really only looks right with an open collar and that’s just not Bond. If you divorce yourself from who he’s playing and think of him as just an action hero, it works better.
My other problem is that the movie is so derivative. I’ve seen most of this before. Sneak into M’s Apartment? Casino Royale. Rogue Agent is the villain? Goldeneye. Bond lost (dead)? Die another Day. Bond having to recoup and re qualify for duty? The World is Not Enough. Attack on MI6? World is Not Enough. There’s nothing NEW here until we hit the actual Skyfall estate, on the other hand, once we get there, the movie’s action is to die for. It’s brilliant.
This is very much a transition movie. It’s a pity it hadn’t come sooner in Craig’s tenure because I think I would have given his Bond a lot more slack if it had. It definitely is the best Bond film I’ve seen in well over a decade (and that despite my not liking this particular James Bond!). Catch it while it’s in the theater and buy it when it comes out on DVD.