Ah, Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you….
This will be a spoiler free review, although if you’ve seen the trailer for the film then at least some of the surprises may have been spoilt anyway (more on that later). The latest Bond film marks a triumphant return to form for cinemas longest running film franchise.
Daniel Craig puts in a stellar performance and has a commanding screen presence. He portrays the most believable and human version of James Bond to grace the silver screen. In Skyfall, Bond is physically and even psychologically damaged, this Bond is older and more careworn than before. The film focuses on whether Bond is a man with a future, or an irrelevant relic. Craig is joined by a stellar supporting cast, from Dame Judi Dench to a warm performance from Albert Finney.
The film contains the requisite action scenes, and as usual for a Bond adventure, they are by turns inventive and spectacular. Sam Mendes directs with a visual flair and the end sequence – shot partly in that twilight between day and night is a technical and creative triumph. The Oscar winning director puts a personal stamp on the movie and in one particular, near silent sequence, a shadow play unfolds in the indigo wash of a Shanghai skyscraper. It is a beautiful, artfully shot movie.
Although the film avoids some of the pitfalls that have plagued the likes of ‘Die another Day’ and ‘Moonraker’, the film is not without its flaws. A sequence involving a rather badly done CGI reptile is not only superflous, but disappointing, given the Bond producers preference for physical (real) stunts. Also, the main Villain, wonderfully played by Javier Bardem has a rather elaborate scheme, which becomes more and more preposterous, the more you think about it.
At 2hrs and 25 minutes, the film is also way too long and would have benefited from some judicious editing. It’s about an hour into the film before we meet the main Villain of the piece and that’s a shame because he’s a wonderful creation – on a par with Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Also, some of the product placement is so ‘in yer face’ that it takes the viewer out of the movie. Look – Bond’s drinking Heineken, now he’s using a Sony Vaio laptop and is that watch an Omega?
The movie is dark and serious in tone, much like Casino Royale. Having said that, there is a sense of fun that was missing from Craig’s previous outings, and this is a film that you could imagine watching at Christmas with the family.
Overall though, this is the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of Bond. There are moments that make you want to cheer (the Aston Martin), and the film has all the elements that make for a great Bond film. This includes, for the first time in ages, a decent theme tune. Adeles music is the best since Goldeneye, and there are instrumental versions of it used throughout movie.
The best Bond film? Not for me, I will always have a soft spot for The Spy Who Loved Me, Live And Let Die and Goldeneye. Is Daniel Craig the best Bond? I think that he’s come out of the shadow of Connery and now owns the role in a way that none of the other actors have.