Well, it’ll be a few days before my next book review. Struggling a bit with a longer than average historical mystery and simultaneously savouring a preview copy of a rather intriguing mystery in 1st century Jerusalem. And also Mrs Puzzle Doctor took me to the cinema last night to see the new James Bond film. Well that just about falls into my remit…
It’s a lot harder to be spoiler free with film reviews as the trailer is usually worse than the blurb on the back of a mystery novel. If at all possible, avoid the trailer as the only genuine major plot twist (happening very early in the film) is completely blown. But even so, there’s a lot to say about this film – most notably, is it the “best Bond ever” as some people seem to be saying…
No it isn’t. It isn’t even the best Daniel Craig Bond film. Don’t believe the hype!
Don’t get me wrong – it’s very good. It’s up there in the top five, but I think you’ll enjoy it more with more reasonable expectations.
Contrary to Mrs PD, Craig convinces me as Bond. He’s the sort of spy that you need in a modern day spy movie and he still has enough about him to convince that this might be the same character as has gone before. Judi Dench excels as M in an expanded role and Ben Wishaw makes an impressive debut as Q. I wasn’t so sure about Ralph Fiennes channeling Leonard Rossiter as the apparently jobsworth government type but to my surprise, I enjoyed his arc. Of the Bond girls, Naomi Harris stands out as the slightly out of her depth Eve.
Javier Bardem makes the screen light up when he shows up as Silva, the villain of the piece, and I think it was an interesting choice for him to play it as if he was in Carry On Bond – Mrs PD insists Craig is the spitting image of Sid James. Maybe Bardem got confused… Oddly enough though, despite the mostly serious nature of the film, the performance works.
The emotional relationship at the heart of the film is what carries it into the upper echelons of the canon. I’ll say no more than that, but there aren’t any other Bond films with this much heart. Some might suggest OHMSS but as one of the parties’ wooden acting was in danger of giving the other one splinters, I disagree.
So, issues? A couple.
After a stunning opening sequence, the action isn’t that great. The fight in silhouette is well shot, but the reflection-laden build up was hard to follow. You then have to wait until the finale for any extended fun and games but by necessity from the nature of the film, this is a restrained affair – effective but restrained.
And there is the issue that if you stop and think about it, Silva’s plan is bat-guano crazy. All I can say is – the emergency train distraction. How did he know? Unless he had a bucketload of other bonkers backups…
But I digress. This is a very good film and highly recommended. There are a ton of little touches that I won’t even hint at that will make you smile. The whole look of the film is fantastic. Don’t go in expecting the greatest Bond film ever* and you’ll probably love it.
* Hard to say categorically but I’d put Goldfinger and Casino Royale (new version) above it. And just because they make me smile – Octopussy and Tomorrow Never Dies as well. Yes, you read the last one correctly. ..