Friday, October 26, 2012



  • Released Internationally on 26/10/12
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 26/10/12
Preview (first published 01/10/12 in VIDA magazine)

Unless you were attempting a solo Atlantic crossing in a canoe at the time, you probably saw and enjoyed possibly the most far-reaching and audacious piece of movie advertising ever staged - with the Queen herself coming along for the ride. But despite Bond being a quintessential part of British culture, and therefore a fitting addition to the pop opulence that was the Olympics opening ceremony, the timing was of course far from coincidental. Because after a few delays, the 23rd instalment in the most enduring film franchise ever (it turned 50 this year) is about to parachute into our cinemas.
Daniel Craig has proved a very popular choice as the man with the tuxedo, although his second film was not as well received as his debut. For his third romp, he's pitched against a new nemesis portrayed by Javier Bardem, and if said foe is even half as evil as the guy Bardem portrayed in No Country For Old Men, Bond had better not forget his license at home. Dame Judi Dench returns as the bossy (but in a lovable way) M, and we are introduced to a new, younger Q (Bond's quartermaster, and provider of fancy gadgets), portrayed by Ben Whishaw (Perfume). Rounding off an impressive cast are Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient), Albert Finney (Big Fish), along with two rising starlets as the new additions to the legendary Bond-girl catalogue - Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe - one from each side of the British channel, how lovely.
If, for some slightly strange reason, you need any additional reasons to go watch a Bond film, another selling point this time, and one that has raised the hopes of many, myself included, is the choice of director. With such a successful formula at hand, the franchise has often managed very well without the need for any highbrow visionaries in the folding chair. But this time they've managed to land Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), who is also bringing along his frequent musical collaborator, composer Thomas Newman. That should make for an extremely interesting soundtrack, although at the time of going to press the identity of the big name behind the song is as yet unannounced (Adele? Noel Gallagher? Who knows?).

It's been a very 'Team GB' summer, so we can now sit comfortably in the knowledge that another great British tradition is heading our way, with fast cars, shamelessly sponsored watches, scantily-clad women, and some of the best action ever seen on a screen - and all without ruffling his suit.


Review (26/10/12)

Bond is back, and this just might be the best Bond film you can remember. We all have our favourite Bond moments and nostalgic memories, but this one delivers in every department, and would be an excellent film even if it didn’t have the 007 label attached to it.

Daniel Craig

It was only after the film finished that I realised I hadn’t once thought about whether Craig was a good Bond or not. Only three films into the role, he is Bond, and the way things have progressed since the franchise reboot, it’s all falling into place nicely around the assured and increasingly comfortable central blonde hero. He gets to work the haggard and unshaven look briefly this time around, and we also get a rare glimpse into the more personal side of the world’s favourite spy.

The villain
Javier Bardem is unsettling in many ways as the arch nemesis of the story, and his fine-tuned performance is even more powerful because he often doesn’t fit the usual Bond villain mould. Some might bemoan the lack of scale, but I found it refreshing to have a villian who’s not set on clichéd world domination. Silva, as he is referred to, shows that he could cause global chaos if he wanted to, but he has a different agenda.

The sights
We start off in Turkey, and later get to see the lights of Shanghai and the landscapes of Scotland. But the heart of this film lies in London, with many recognizable locations, and a key action sequence set during an underground rush hour (albeit slightly toned down). The District line also gets a much-needed facelift.

The music
I for one loved the new Bond song by Adele, but there was no denying it wasn’t exactly rousing, thrilling stuff. But in the context of the opening sequence, it fits perfectly, and lends itself to a well designed and plot-relevant title sequence, although not as excellent as the Casino Royale one. Thomas Newman also shows his class by tackling the daunting composer role with ease, mixing his trademark percussion and unusual instrumentation with the usual Bond moments of grandeur or sadness. He also doesn’t shy away from using the James Bond theme in all its glory, especially during one very appropriate sequence.

The team
Judi Dench gets more screen time than usual as M, and she is a joy to watch. Ralph Fiennes makes a welcome addition to the MI6 staff, but it’s not a smooth entry, plot-wise. The Bond girls deliver as expected, although thankfully neither of the main ones is a brainless bystander, despite both being stunning. Their amorous or flirtatious encounters with Bond are not given any unnecessary screen time or attention, however, as there is a lot of material to get through.

In the end
After the slightly disappointing previous entry, this is a spectacular, well-written and emotional return to form; full of traditional Bond touches but self-sufficient as an action film with brains. There are a few surprises, and the story arc of 007 and his unusual employment continues to be very entertaining. You might also find some sequences reminding you of The Silence of the Lambs, The Return of the Jedi and (of all films) even Home Alone, but it all feels appropriately Bond-like. Sam Mendes has done a terrific job, as has his crew, including a beautifully shot final act. For an original story, this one is quite impressive, and it should ensure that we get many more Bond films to enjoy in the years to come. Hopefully, they’ll be as good as this one.