Cast/Production: Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall), starring Daniel Craig as James Bond (other side-characters return) Christoph Waltz as the main heel, Léa Seydoux as Dr. Swann (Bond girl), Monica Bellucci (quickie Bond girl), Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh, the Shang Tsung mini-boss, but most importantly, DAVE BATISTA as the main henchman, Mr. Hinx!
Plot: Bond travels the globe to unravel a multi-national terrorist plot. The B-story is that the 007 program is being scrapped, as a merger puts C (Andrew Scott) in charge, who wants a unified global surveillance network.
Before starting, I should mention that Daniel Craig is my favourite Bond, and Casino Royale is my favourite Bond movie. Craig is like a wrecking ball, doing the bare minimum Bond-isms (fixing his cuff-links etc) and being the most rough/physical of all the 007s. The “Tumbler Batmobile” of Bond actors.
Thoughts on the film:
• Yes, Big Dave is in the film! He was in like 5 shots of the trailer so was hoping for a big part. (How big is batista’s part, you ask?) He’s in 4 big scenes. He plays the role of silent, massive heavy that fights Bond. He spoke just one word. He did well for his role, two things though: His first scene (MARKED OUT seeing him), he did not enter to Saliva’s I Walk Alone (sadly) and he didn’t do a wrestling move. I know a powerbomb is out of the question, but a chokeslam would’ve sufficed!
• Andrew Scott (Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes aka Jim the Irish Bastard) toned down the accent and I thought was a more menacing/fittingly smarmy position here than in Sherlock. (I gather this is an unpopular opinion!) Enjoyed seeing him in a big hollywood movie.
• Christoph Waltz (main heel in charge of Spectre, the global criminal organisation) does a great job at being the charming host/criminal psychopath. He’s very much a classic Bond villain, including riculously scripted corny lines like “I am the architect of all your pain”, taking Bond on a tour of his secret hideout and explaining all of his plans.
• Monica Bellucci (I know her as the Merovingian’s wife in Matrix 2) is still gorgeous. She’s 50 (at the time they shot the film), making her the oldest Bond girl. When asked about this, Daniel Craig said it’s nice to work with someone his own age (50!). Good show. The was a big hoopla about her in the film but she only gets a few minutes.
• Re: Bond banging every woman in sight, I don’t think you can complain about Bond girls being portrayed as disposable (although it is true here) as it’s a Bond trope for literally half a century – they’re Bond girls. It’s like giving out about Godfather’s Hos being portrayed as Hos.
• There was a lot of grief over Sam Smith’s new Bond song (“Writing on the Wall”) but it sounded grand and a fitting Bond song over the credits. It’s not amazing but sure it’s better than a lot of other recent efforts (Madonna, Sheryl Crow, even if Alicia Keys/Jack White is your cup of tea).
• Loved the opening action sequence (and long takes) with Bond tracking down an assassin in Mexico. It takes place during Día de los Muertos, where there’s a parade of everyone dressed in black/skeleton attire and hugely massive crowds. The assassin tries to make off in a helicopter, leading to some fun hijinks.
• Despite the main new Spectre logo of the film (an Octopus), there’s not a hint of Japanese…well, you know. Class all the way.
• The film has a lot of people standing still, and one person (Bond) walking around, making him the absolute focus of shots. He also poses for a calendar a lot, like when driving a boat.
• Many characters say they won’t/can’t do something, and then do it. (I’m not covering for you, I’ll cover for you; this car’s meant for 009, I took the car; I’m not going anywhere with you/not going to bang you, I’ll go with you and bang you etc) It must be a screen-writing manipulative tool to have more fun seeing someone who shouldn’t be doing something. Keep an eye out!
• Following on from that, it seems after about half an hour into Casino Royale, every Bond film talks about him hanging it up, he’s finished, he’s too old, he should retire etc. This seems like a subtle prod for you, the cinema-goer, to not like the Bond franchise die, as well as the bullet-point above.
• It’s not a new thing, but with “C”, we have a whole host of codenames with C, Q, M (other M, not the metroid game), and 007. Also, when I see Ralph Finnes I see Voldemort with a nose! Took a while to see him as M.
• Lots of new sets, beautiful scenery – each differing in background makup (Carnivale-type atmos of Mexico, narrow brick streets of Rome, snowbound Austria, sweaty desert Morocco, dreary rainy day/night-time London). Shot well, unpretentious. looks gorgeous.
• Bond finds Mr. White, who is dying of Thallium poisoning (a famous poison known as ‘Inheritance powder’). Marked out as we learned about it years ago in a Pharmacology class.
• As Dr. Swann warms to Bond, she also is shown more beautifully (hair/dresses etc). As an aside, there no sex or nudity in the film, and barely any blood – this is a PG-13 film.
• Nobody respects Rule #2 (Double Tap) – many fight scenes could’ve been avoided if the characters just shot the supposedly dead character. The worst is assuming Batista’s a goner after going through a car’s windscreen. Boo!
• The film is quite lengthy, at two and a half hours. I didn’t notice the time go as Bond’s always off to a new location.
• The action is always a bit light hearted, with the no blood and usually Bond’ll be on the phone or making a quip. They love the aul torture scene with Bond, happened a lot recently.
• I enjoyed the reveal of the villain (Waltz) as well as incorporating Skyfall via the now-derelict MI6 building.
• Worth noting this film could be made as in November 2013 MGM settled the film rights of Thunderball and it’s characters (including SPECTRE) so they put the organisation back into continuity. This film has a minor retcon that the organisation Quantum is now just part of Spectre.
• They wait until the very end to give you the fully orchestrated big band version of the Bond theme, which is still a fantastic piece of music, as ever.
I’ve managed to say them whilst skirting around actual spoilers above but sure…
• The line “now we know what ‘C’ stands for” got a chuckle out of the crowd. Although he doesn’t say ‘cunt’, he says ‘callous’.
• Very cool seeing the Blofeld trademarks as Waltz unveils his masterplan and the history. I enjoyed him delighting in tormenting Bond, but wasn’t impressed that his fiendish torture (drilling into his brain to give him prosopagnosia/unable to recognise faces) had zero effect. That was ‘John Cena vs the Nexus’ levels of no-selling! I suppose just like his elaborate schemes, he’s shown to be all bite (Bond was supposed to have to choose to save himself or die trying to save the girl, but he found her and got out rather easily)
• C was always banging on about surveillance and that, I was a little let down that his ultimate downfall was just tripping and falling to to his death, and not being incriminated by surveillance or some kind of ironic twist.
Overall: I enjoyed the film, a little long but a fun ride. Not as good as Casino Royale (my favourite Bond film), or Skyfall (man I loved that one too!) but Bond and it’s villains do very well here – definitely worth going to the cinema see.