So for the first time I get to review a movie in my all time fave rave film series, Bond…James Bond. If I keep doing le blog I may eventually get around to reviewing all the 007 movies but for now here’s…
Daniel Craig – James Bond
Judi Dench – M
Javier Bardem – Silva
Ralph Fiennes – Gareth Mallory
Naomie Harris – Eve
Bérénice Marlohe – Sévérine
Albert Finney – Kincade
Ben Whishaw – Q
Rory Kinnear – Tanner
UK – 26 October 2012
USA – 9 November 2012
Canada: PG (Ontario)
Switzerland: 12 (Cantons of Geneva and Vaud)
Common Sense Rating: Iffy for 13+
Flickchart Global Ranking: 668
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (Fresh)
But before we proceed…a bit about my history with Bond? But of course.
Mr. Bond has seemingly always been a part of my life. When Dr. No came out in 1962 I was a wee lad of four, not quite the demographic. My first memory of 007 is in grade school when a friend of mine had one of those Corgi toy Goldfinger Aston Martins that ejected a little plastic bad guy. Goldfinger came out in 1964, that would make me six or seven. I hope that kid kept that toy, probably worth a pretty penny now. Wish I had one.
I don’t think Mom and Dad ever took me to the theater to see any of the 007 films, but they didn’t object to me watching them on TV. That’s where I first saw them. When I was old enough to go to the movies on my own, 007 was played by Roger Moore. Sir Roger may not have been the best Bond but he was the one I grew up with, and as silly as the gadgets and double entendres got in the MooreBond era, he will always hold a special place in my heart. Plus he’s been the most chatty of the Bonds. He recorded commentaries for the DVDs of all of his movies and he wrote a very funny memoir, My Word is My Bond. Much more than Sir Sean who seems to be in denial that he ever had anything to do with 007, and will shmack anyone who bringsh it up.
For guys of my generation, James Bond taught us everything that was right and wrong about being a man. He was smart, stylish, and fearless in the face of danger. Once he was given an assignment he was relentless in his pursuit of the bad guy, and often the bad guy’s girl; but even though at the end of the adventure she may be sailing off into the sunset with James, she was long forgotten by the time the next adventure came out. The only woman Bond is loyal to is Her Majesty…with one exception: James Bond got married once. Mrs. Bond never made it to the honeymoon, and Mr. Bond never made the mistake of loving someone again.
Bond showed us how to walk, how to wear a suit, and how to banish our enemies with a martini in one hand and a Walther PPK in the other (followed by a brittle pun), but no matter how often we practiced it all in the mirror we could never pull it off. It’s just as well. No matter how good he is at saving the world and getting the girl, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang always returned to a tasteful but lonely flat in London without even a dog to love him. The Fleming novels and the films from the Dalton era on have been more honest about the fact that a license to kill comes at a high emotional price.
We might fantasize about racking up Bondian numbers and being able to kill anyone who annoys us, but most of us grew up and understood that we couldn’t live that way. Still, for 50 years now our faithful friends at EON Productions* have brought us a new fantasy every two years or so. As we leave the theater after watching a 007 film we quickly scan the parking lot in case an enemy is lying in wait. We are mad, bad, dangerous to know, and ready to defend our Bond Girl. It doesn’t take long before we realize that the car in the parking lot isn’t an Aston Martin, and the girl with us isn’t Vesper Lynd.
If there is a girl with us.
And in my case, there usually isn’t.
All of us lads have fantasized about being Bond, but only Messrs. Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, and Craig have lived it. Barry Nelson and David Niven if you’re generous. If you’re really, really generous Woody Allen.
Soon after the dawn of the 21st Century the keepers of Bond decided to throw out the rule book and rejuvenate the franchise with a new player and a James Bond at the beginning of his career. By 2006 EON finally had the rights to the first Ian Fleming 007 novel Casino Royale and they did the first faithful adaptation for the big screen.** After the invisible car in the previous film, Brosnan’s Die Another Day, they took a more “wits not widgets” approach to the reboot, and they chose Daniel Craig who has more intense and rugged good looks than any of his predecessors.
Some purists weren’t sure about Craig, who at 5′ 10” is shorter than anyone who played 007 before, and he’s (gasp) blonde. After Casino Royale came out, most of the agnostics became believers. Daniel Craig owns the part like Connery and Brosnan did.
At this point I’m sure all of my Fervent Readers are saying, “Joe will you please tell us your favorite Bond and list them in order?”
Well, since you asked…
1. Sean Connery
He invented the part on film and, as good as some of the other Bonds have been, nobody did it better (And, yes, I’m the first person to say that. Don’t even bother googling it.). Both he and his 007 are a tad chauvinistic (in the movies and real life), but he brought a sense of humor to the part (quite lacking in the novels). Look at the pre-title sequence in Goldfinger. After he walks into the bar and the bomb that he planted goes off, the expression on his face is classic. It says, “Oh dear, did I do that?”
Connery made six official Bond movies, and one non-canonical one. He set the bar, and only one of his successors has come close to clearing it…
2. Daniel Craig
EON was looking for a tough 007 for a different, post 9/11 world. In Craig, they found someone who could be suave and pretty but also a cold ass killer. One of the running gags in Quantum of Solace is that Bond keeps killing the bad guys that M wants him to capture alive. In Casino, they establish for the first time in the film series that Bond became an orphan in his youth, and CraigBond is clearly good at his job but he’s got some issues.
If Craig keeps making 007 films as good as he has been – and he’s signed on for at least two more – he has a chance of surpassing Connery, or at least equaling him.
3. Timothy Dalton
I use the phrase “owning 007” for Connery, Craig, and Brosnan, but not Timothy Dalton. So why is Dalton on my list ahead of Brosnan? With the two films he made in the 80s, Dalton took the series in a new direction. He represented an attempt to bring the series back to it’s Flemingesque roots after the silliness of the MooreBond era. Probably the best actor to ever play the part, DaltonBond had feelings. Look at his anger when his friend Felix Leiter is attacked in License to Kill, and when his colleague is killed in The Living Daylights.
Unfortunately, most of the audience didn’t share my enthusiasm for Dalton. He didn’t bond with movie goers (I couldn’t resist), and he only made two films. I think had he done more he would have owned the character more, but credit him for bringing some much needed depth to the series.
4. Pierce Brosnan
In the 80s, EON wanted Brosnan for Bond, but he was tied up with the TV show Remington Steele and he had to pass. I was happy to see that, I didn’t care much for Brosnan back in those days. By the time he made Goldeneye in 1995 he had aged a little bit and had more edge. BrosnanBond had a lighter touch, he had a bit of the humor of ConneryBond but he also set us up for the tough Bond of the current Craig era. When we were watching the torture scene in DAD, I turned to Tania and said, “Roger Moore never would’ve survived this.” Unfortunately BrosnanBond approached the silliness levels of some of the MooreBond films. Remember Dr. Christmas Jones? By the end of DAD BrosnanBond was driving an invisible car and hang gliding over a glacier.
Brosnan made four movies. He was game to do more, but EON decided to go a different way. When you think about it, Brosnan helped to save the 007 franchise which could very well have died after the disappointing returns of the Dalton movies, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.
5. Roger Moore
Poor Sir Roger. He seemed to know that he was no competition for Sir Sean, and he kept a sense of humor about his limitations. For examples of how seriously he takes himself, look no further than his DVD commentaries: “I do all my own stunts…I also do all my own lying.” Like I said earlier, love him or hate him, MooreBond is the one I grew up with. He’ll always have a place in my heart, but watching him have weightless space sex with Holly Goodhead is a bit hard to take.
6. George Lazenby
Ah…George. Nothing divides Bond geeks like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It’s not without it’s charms, the most charming being Dame Diana Rigg as the Bond Girl, the only one who got 007 not only in the sack but down the aisle. Also, LazenbyBond had a level of pathos that you never saw with Connery. Not just at the end of the movie, but in the scene on the ice skating rink: Bond is surrounded by his enemies, and for the first time you really see him to be terrified. He sees no way out, until Tracy (Diana Rigg) comes to his rescue. No wonder he married her.
Those are the good parts of OHMSS, but then there’s LazenbyBond’s lecherous pursuit of the girls at Piz Gloria, while wearing a kilt (“It’s true!”). Also the lame aside to the audience at the end of the fight in the pre-title sequence: “Nothing like this ever happened to other fellow.” Lazenby might have grown into the part, but he chose not to, and EON persuaded Connery to come back one more time, seemingly to clean up the mess.
OK, enough of me prattling on…what about Skyfall?
Skyfall is the third 007 movie since the reboot and the beginning of the Daniel Craig era. To say that it’s an improvement over the previous film, Quantum of Solace, is an understatement…and you know that your Misplaced Boy doesn’t do understatements. QOS has it’s moments but it’s a bit dreary. It was time for Bond to get over Vesper Lynd and get on with the gratuitous sex and violence we’ve come to expect.
As Skyfall begins, Bond is on assignment with a lovely agent named Eve (Naomie Harris). They are chasing some bad guys who have stolen a hard drive with some vital MI6 information on it. I won’t say too much about it, but things get really gnarly.
There’s a very smart former agent out there named Silva (Javier Bardem). He feels like M (Dame Judi Dench) betrayed him back in the day and he wants revenge. Bond’s quest to protect M leads both of them to confront their past and face their relationship. In the three CraigBond films M has acted like a very stern surrogate mother to James, who lost his parents many years ago. I will say no more about the plot, but the film does explore that…um…bond.
Skyfall is the 23rd official 007 film, and it marks the 50th anniversary of the series. I spotted a couple of nods to the anniversary: At one point Bond drinks 1962 vintage scotch, and the tricked out Aston Martin from Goldfinger is brought back. There are probably a lot more that I didn’t spot…I also didn’t see Producer Michael G. Wilson’s cameo, but he must be in there. He first appeared in Goldfinger and he’s showed up in every film since The Spy Who Loved Me.
Now pay attention, Fervent Reader…In another return to Bond Classic, they finally bring back the character of Q. As played by Ben Whishaw he’s a younger, geekier version of Q who, though he doesn’t load 007 up with too many gadgets, still manages to tell him that he would appreciate the equipment being returned in working condition. That’s something that Bond never manages to do.
I was disappointed not to see the great Jeffrey Wright playing Felix Leiter again.*** There are, of course, some babes and some surprises. To paraphrase The Cleveland Show theme song, there’s old friends and new friends and even a
bear giant lizard.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
I know I’ve completely spazzed out in this post, what can I say? I’m a fanboy. Skyfall is a great movie. Period. If you’re a Bond fan, you’ll like it. If you’re not, you still might like it.
Random Quote Whore Quote:
Skyfall is a horsy, unshod, myall of a movie! Daniel Craig is nonsecretionary!!!
Closing Love Theme:
I was going to put the video for Adele’s theme song here, but considering how great Adele and the song are the video for the song is really weak. Instead I found this Cover and Remix video of Skyfall by drummer Tom Grosset. Enjoy!
A Misplaced Boy will return.
* EON stands for Everything or Nothing, the 007 series’ production company formed by “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. It’s now run by Broccoli’s daughter Barbara and his stepson Michael G. Wilson.
** Remember that Casino Royale has been made twice before, on TV in 1954 and as a spoof in 1967. Both have their charms, but neither could be considered a faithful rendition of the book.
*** Leiter has been played by a constantly rotating series of actors. Jeffrey Wright and David Hedison are the only ones to play him twice, and Wright is the only actor to play him twice in consecutive films. I think I grew a zit while writing that sentence.
If you’re still reading this and you’re a trivia buff, see if you can spot the mistake I made in this post. Hint: It’s when I’m talking about Roger Moore.