Casino Royale directed by Martin Campbell:
This is the first novel that Ian Fleming wrote about the dashing British spy, James Bond. We are introduced to the exciting, suave, ladies man Bond in this novel that centers on bringing the bad guys down through a high-stakes game of poker (baccarat in the novel). The Bond series of films had run itself into the ground lately as it lost its flair and energy. With the recasting of Daniel Craig into the lead role there was initially outrage, but when the film came out critics had to eat crow and admit he was the perfect choice. The Bond character is not just about having dark hair and a suaveness, Bond has to be believable as a world-class spy and does have an edge to him. Craig brought the perfect amount of acting chops and edginess to the role. He was smoldering and sexy. The energy he brought to the role jumped off the screen. It did not hurt that director Martin Campbell (The Legend of Zorro, Beyond Borders) decided to focus on chase scenes and hand-to-hand combat rather than gadgets and technology for this film. This really played into Craig’s strengths in regards to the characters. We believe him to be physically able to do the things required in the film. I don’t know if we felt the same way about Pierce Brosnan or Timothy Dalton. On the downside the story behind the film is not up to par with its lead actor. It certainly does not equal what Craig brings to the character. All in all though it is a triumphant return of the popular spy series. Bond is back! I can’t wait for the next film!
James Bond (Daniel Craig – Infamous, ) is a secret agent for the British government who likes to live on the edge. This disregard for policy aggravates his boss, M (Judy Dench – Notes on a Scandal, Mrs. Brown), but generally gets the job done. His way. It is early in his career but with two assassinations in quick succession Bond’s status is upgraded to ’00’, meaning he now has the license to kill. Agent 007 is now sent on a mission to Madagascar, which leads to him going to The Bahamas and finally Montenegro in his quest to capture international criminal Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelson – After the Wedding). Le Chiffre is desperate for the money he lost of his international financiers and will do anything to get his hands on it. He is an expert poker player so he uses a high-stakes game going on in order to restore the needed funds. His life hangs in the balance so no risk is too large for him to take. Thankfully, Bond is also an expert poker player and so he inserts himself into the game. Still not trusting Bond, M puts him under the watchful eyes of the very careful financially Vesper Lynd (Eva Green – Kingdom of Heaven, The Dreamers). The two go up against the increasingly desperate Le Chiffre and their hands are full.
- Becoming Bond: An intimate look at how Daniel Craig stepped into the role of the 6th James Bond
- James Bond: For Real: Inside look at action and stunts of film
- Bond Girls Are Forever: Closer Look at Bond’s Leading Ladies
- Chris Cornell’s Music Video, “You Know My Name”
- Digital Copy
Quantum of Solace directed by Marc Forster:
The transition that Daniel Craig has made into the iconic character of James Bond has been as smooth as a baby’s bottom. He has inhabited the character and made it his own. I think very soon, if he’s not already, he will be thought of as the ultimate Bond.
The film picks up just where the last one ended. James Bond (Daniel Craig – The Golden Compass, Munich) has just lost the woman he loves and is now seeking revenge for her death. The pursuit of Le Chifre leads on the trail of corrupt environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Marie Antoinette).
Due to his reckless behaviour 007 is forced to go rogue after killing a few people he should not have, including a Secret Service agent. M (Judi Dench – Casino Royale, Shakespeare in Love) is forced to have him taken into custody and it becomes Strawberry Fields’ (Gemma Arterton – RocknRolla) job to make sure he is returned to London. Of course he and his old pal Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini – Man on Fire, Hannibal) manage to escape from her.
They are back on the trail of Greene in Bolivia, where he is trying to secure the rights to sixty percent of the water in exchange for putting exiled dictator General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio) back in power. Bond hooks up with Camille (Olga Kurylenko – Max Payne, Hitman), who is working with Greene in order to exact her revenge on General Medrano for killing her family.
This film is all business. Right from the very first scenes, which are of a car chase, this film establishes itself as being about nothing but action. There are plenty of boat chases, car chases, plane chases, on foot chases, shootouts, and fights to make even the most strident of action film fans happy.
Director Marc Forster (The Kite Runner, Stranger Than Fiction) at first glance seems like a strange choice for a Bond film. He has done only quirky, serious films to this point and has never done an action film. Well, he acquits himself quite well thank you very much. As mentioned before the action never stops and he doesn’t get to intellectual or ‘wordy’ with the film. He does allow Bond to go on a voyage towards…if you can believe it…forgiveness. But it never gets to be overwhelming.
My one big disappointment was the song. I had heard so much about the Jack White and Alicia Keys pairing that maybe I was bound to feel this way, but nevertheless the song is weak in my opinion.
While this is probably not as good a film as “Casino Royale” it is still an entertaining watch.
- Music Video – “Another Way to Die”
- Theatrical Teaser Trailer #1
- Theatrical Trailer #2
- Trailers: Valkyrie Trailer, The Day the Earth Stood Still Trailer, Australia Trailer
- Digital Copy
Skyfall directed by Sam Mendes:
Like the Batman film series James Bond has also been “rescued”. During the Pierce Brosnan/Timothy Dalton years the franchise fell in quality in the public’s eyes. Now with Daniel Craig in the titular role it has been revived. This is Craig’s third go round and director Sam Mendes’ (Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition) first. They both demonstrate that they have an aptitude for this type of film.
A James Bond film is a particular type all unto its own. You expect little dialogue, fast pace, lots of explosions, beautiful women, evil villains, and Bond coming out on top in the end. 007 is a man who beds the ladies and kills or captures the bad guys. On top of all that usual stuff this film adds an emotional depth to the secret agent that we haven’t often seen. At first I was thinking it wasn’t wise to tinker with a formula that has worked for 50 years. After seeing Skyfall I admit the emotions added a whole other layer to the film and fit in seamlessly.
In Istanbul, James Bond (Daniel Craig – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Cowboys & Aliens) and a female agent (Naomie Harris – 28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) are in pursuit of a man who has a list that contains the name of every MI6 agent working undercover throughout the world. For obvious reasons, M (Judi Dench – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, My Week With Marilyn) has instructed them to get it back any way possible. In the end M gives the female agent to take the shot while Bond and the man are fighting on top of a moving train. The shot is not true and ends up hitting Bond, who falls off the train into the water below. 007 is no more. M has an obituary to write.
Back in London M’s computer account has been hacked into and threatening emails start coming. Then MI6 headquarters is bombed and several agents are killed. New bureaucrat Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes – Schindler’s List, The English Patient) asks M for her resignation saying that the spy world has passed her by. M being M refuses and continues on looking for this criminal computer hacker.
Soon after the attack the presumed dead Bond, who has been drinking heavily on some beach location, returns to London and wants to go straight back to work. After M accepts him back, Bond is back in action and hunting for the man (Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men, Eat Pray Love) behind these threats.
There is always a “special” look to the Bond films and Mendes knows this. A couple of scenes are absolutely treats for your eyes. One happens in a building with tons of windows and glass walls that reflect all the neon lights from outside and the other is the final scenes that happen on Bond’s rural childhood home (a mansion) in Scotland. Courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakins (A Beautiful Mind, The Shawshank Redemption) this is probably the most beautiful Bond film of them all. He uses nighttime in Shanghai and the countryside of Scotland to his benefit.
Mendes is obviously a fan of the film series. His knowledge of the style and main character comes shining through on several occasions. From the stylized way it looks and the in jokes told this is a film made with respect to what has gone before it. Mendes manages to keep this a typically Bond film while also offering us some huge actions scenes that are usually only available in crap, tent pole, big budget Hollywood action films.
An interesting and new aspect of this Bond film is how it is addressed that he is an old fashioned spy who is getting a little long in the tooth. No matter the age of the other actors playing Bond this subject was never broached. Even though he is in no way the oldest actor to play James Bond Daniel Craig brings a lot of realism to this aspect of the story. He has succeeded in adding many layers to a character who doesn’t actually say that much. Whereas Craig does not have to learn many lines he does have to be very physical in the role. Craig is nice to look at while still being full of the simmering just under the surface anger this character possesses. Whether it is getting into a shower, bedding a bevy of beautiful women or engaging in hand to hand combat with a baddie, Daniel Craig succeeds at every level.
Another actor who has a great go round is Judi Dench. She as M features much more in the film and is so good I cannot picture anyone else in the role. As hard as she is in the beginning of the film is as vulnerable at the end. Cold then warm – it is not something many actresses can realistically achieve. Judi Dench possesses such talent that she is fluidly able to bring M through all these ups and downs or ins and outs. This is definitely her strongest Bond film.
-Soundtrack Promotional Spot
Spectre directed by Sam Mendes:
After getting a mysterious message 007 James Bond is off to Mexico then on to Rome on a rogue mission. While in Rome he meets up with Lucia Sciorra (Monica Bellucci – Malena, The Whistleblower), the widow of a well-known criminal. Through this he is able to get into a secret meeting of a criminal organization called SPECTRE.
In London, the new head of the Centre of National Security, C (Andrew Scott – from television’s Sherlock) seriously questions Bond’s methods and even the existence of MI6 under M (Ralph Fiennes – Holmes & Watson, Kubo and the Two Strings).
Under these conditions, Bond secretly gets Moneypenny (Naomie Harris – Moonlight, 28 Days Later…) and Q (Ben Whishaw – The Lobster, Mary Poppins Returns) to help him locate Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux – Blue is the Warmest Color, Saint Laurent). Madeleine is the daughter of Bond’s archnemesis, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen – Casino Royale, The Young Victoria). He is hoping that through her he can get to SPECTRE. This quest brings Bond closer to the very dangerous Blofeld (Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained, Alita: Battle Angel).
-SPECTRE: Bond’s Biggest Opening Sequence