Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear
Film matched beverage: Silver Balloon Cocktail
Synopsis: Bond is wounded, presumed dead, whilst pursuing a hard drive featuring the identities of every international secret agent. He remains undercover, until MI6 itself is attacked, and returns to active service, facing more than one demon at the same time.
There has been a lot of positive feedback on this film, and I can certainly appreciate the reasons why. However, I personally find it hard to share in the same level of enthusiasm. I do love Mendes as a director, and this is a very Mendes film. Had the character of Bond not been involved, I would have perhaps sung its praises from the highest rooftops. However, being the Bond fan I am, having collected every scrap of information I could about the character from an early age, I find myself ambivalent towards this film.
There are many great moments, and the action is handled with greater finesse than this films immediate predecessors. How all the major characters are developed is quite intriguing, and the depths that are mined are fantastic. Many knowing and respectful nods to James Bond of the past were also really well placed, and I responded to these moments with great glee, even when they lovingly mocked the franchise of old. I can also appreciate the films structure, in that one feels quite uncomfortable in the first half leading to a brilliant speech by M that directly addresses these growing concerns.
Yet the Bond fan in me was not excited where the film fan in me was. The villain played by Bardem is certainly different, yet for me not in an interesting way. His verbal tic every time he wanted to indicate something disappearing irritated me within 5 minutes. The only time the character greatly interested me is one incredible moment when in custody we learn his full history. After that though, he gets little time to shine and is relegated to regular cat and mouse type duties.
Also, those same moments I enjoyed that referenced previous films also reminded me of what I normally see in Bond. I can appreciate from a dramatic point of view mixing things up and keeping the franchise interesting. But this film for me lost the Fleming from the story. This is quite incredible, given how far Moore diverged, and how closely this film even starts to one of the original Fleming novels. Yet whereas Craig was a Fleming Bond in Casino Royale, I can’t say the same here. He is playing a more seasoned character, true, but seasoned does not mean that you approach everything with an almost bored demeanor.
This review may get me crucified. I am really disagreeing with most people’s opinion of this film, and I realise that. I will say, the ending did lift my spirits, in the hopes of seeing the Bond I personally love return. Even some of the elements revealed in this ending, though, I guessed 10 minutes into the film anyway. I guess time will tell what the future holds.
3 stars out of 5
Silver Balloon Cocktail
3 parts Apple and Grapefruit juice
1 part Amaretto
Shake on ice and serve in a cocktail glass.