“A real fitting tribute to the entire concept of the James Bond story.”
Given the huge success of Casino Royale, followed by Quantum Of Solace not entirely reaching the high level set by it’s predecessor, it’s not a massive shock given the release coinciding with the franchise’s 50th anniversary, that we wanted Daniel Craig leading his way to provide us with a fantastic yet fitting Bond experience. Hiring a solid director like Sam Mendes who has a knack for delivering in each genre he attempts, Craig’s third outing as MI6 agent James Bond simply needed to be a swansong to the Bond’s of old, address subjects of modern day life and provide reassurance of it’s future.
After supposedly returning from the dead, James Bond (Craig) attempts to retrieve a government hard drive after it has fallen into the hands of technological terrorists. But his trail leads him to the psychotic Silva (played by Javier Bardem), whose plan of causing chaotic mayhem for his own vengeance needs to be stopped by our suave spying saviour.
It’s safe to say that Daniel Craig is fast becoming one of the best, if not the best Bond. Taking his character back to his younger days and touching on aspects of his life that have always been put aside due to the girls, glamour and guns, Craig yet again plays Bond with a sense of heart and loss. You believe this is a character whose yearning to understand what his life would have been like had he not grown from unfortunate circumstances, and whilst Craig has the physique and look of a hero, he also has the eyes and heart of a man who can still feel pain and hurt at any given moment. On the other side of the good versus evil scale, Javier Bardem‘s Silva has other ideas. Introducing himself in most sinister of ways, Bardem encapsulates the mindset of a mad man whose knowledge and intelligence dare not be second guessed. A true psychopath who appears to be always in full control even when cornered, Bardem plays the Bond villain not out for personal gain or even riches, typically a man who can’t be bargained with, enforcing a more personal motivation that drives him.
Especially when his master plan gets in full flow, slightly reminiscent of the airport chase scene from Casino Royale in some ways with disguises and bullets flying aplenty. When you think a director of Sam Mendes’ stature is famous for quiet suburban dramas like American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, it’s incredible to therefore see the action as stunning as it is. It’s edge of the seat pursuits are nothing short of heart pounding and it’s opening chase is as choreographed to perfection and unlike any coherent opening we’ve seen from Bond in a while. As always, you do get the travels, showcasing the wonders of the world, but a great approach from the film makers is allowing major swathes of the film to take place closer to home. You could see this as stand alone action packed entertainment, or on the other hand address the issues of our security and the dangerous nature of the terrorist threat we live in, really bringing home that sense of realism to Bond’s mission. It’s as though you don’t need a villain recounting his desire to take over the world, sometimes threatening everyday life in a plausible way is just as frightening to an audience.
But as elements of the characters fall into place, so do does the iconography. No naff obvious lines, no groaning moments. A score the late John Barry would have been proud of interwinds with the sleak sheen of Mendes’ direction and Roger Deakins’ cinematography brilliantly. And there are plenty in it for the biggest of Bond fans to enjoy, especially the arrival of an old friend that will leave you with a beaming smile and thanking the powers that be of providing a real fitting tribute to the entire concept of the James Bond story.
With the film having that overhanging danger of falling into nostalgic winking-at-the-camera, and updating it’s spectacular set pieces by it’s nature, that mix of past and present fit together perfectly like a fully formed rubik’s cube. As Ben Wishaw‘s Q may have probably remarked, a total reinvention of a fans favourite character, with his geekish attire and scrabbled coffee cup, he comes across as a perfect laptop wielding whizz kid whilst having great chemistry with Bond himself. But the real master stroke would be Judi Dench‘s performance as M. Portraying a character almost feeling the weight of her years of service as the world around her changes vastly, Dench brilliant shakes off the established shackles that has come with her character’s job for the last seven outings and steps up to be the strong, brave woman.
It’s certainly back, and back with a bang. It injects excitement into how the next instalment will play out. But after 50 years of living on the edge, adventures and saving the world in the only way he can, the Bond series is definitely in safe hands once more.