DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
CAST: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Watts, Berenice Lim Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear
RUNNING TIME: 142 minutes
RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
THIS THIRD Daniel Craig film is a satisfying climax to the creation of the filmic 007 character.
It ties up the character development in a neat little bow, bringing in touches of films gone by for the aficionados and, for those who never knew a previous Bond actor, this is a good defining introduction. Plus, it’s a fun action film to boot, so it is kudos all around.
Director Sam Mendes has taken care to allow this character to develop with his own history and though this Bond may not be very humane, he does come across as human.
In a way this film goes off script in that it doesn’t reference a specific Ian Fleming book as the 22 films before it did, and it doesn’t follow on from Quantum of Solace. But then the three films are the ultimate script in that they work together to create this Bond (look at it this way, every generation gets the Bond it deserves.)
Explaining what the title means is giving too much of the game away, but suffice it to say it will make sense. Make do with the script spoiler that this film is about M’s chickens coming home to roost.
Bond spends most of this film on the back foot trying to figure out who is gunning for his boss then chasing after the bad guy.
There are funny moments, courtesy of some great Bond one-liners, and Ben Whishaw’s nerdy Q is a great addition to the character roster.
Javier Bardem makes an excellent Bond bad guy, and the only thing he is missing is the fluffy white cat. He plays Raoul Silva, an ex-MI6 agent out to get revenge against M (Dench), so it’s personal, which makes for some great repartee between him and Bond.
And, before you think it’s going to be of the “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die” kind, this is Bardem in a totally bad hair mood. You’ll never expect this torture scene.
The Bond girls are few and far between, with Eve (Watts) and Severin (Marlohe) actually, surprise, gasp, helping to further the storyline.
Visually this is the punchiest Bond of the three – Roger Deakins’ cinematography places a great emphasis on light and duality and the shots are beautifully composed.
Deakins’ use of bokeh (the aesthetic quality of the blur) makes of a fight scene in Shanghai a thing of beauty.
The incredibly saturated neon colours of Shanghai remind you that the Bond books (and the films of the 1960s) were essentially travelogues showcasing beautiful locations.
Then there are the warm yellows of the lights over the water as Bond travels in a long tracking shot to a floating gambling establishment in Macau.
As for the composition of shots, the film poster is from a scene quite late in the film where Bond is staring down a Scottish valley at what is essentially his past.
The way the scene is composed therefore echoes the storyline and reflection plays an important role visually, echoing the theme that this is a film about reflections and ripples from the past.
Not only is the film strong on character development because you get to understand the Bond character and M a bit better, but it is a ripping good action thriller filled with complicated chases, close-up fight scenes and big action shots.
That is, until the last action sequence which, in true Bond fashion, just goes on for toooooo long.
So, by the time the ending rolls around and Bond has flirted with Miss Moneypenny (oh yes, he does) and been summoned into M’s office to receive a manila folder marked “Top Secret”, you are quite ready for the film to end.
But now that we know the character anew, we hope there is more to come.
If you liked… ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Quantum of Solace’… you’ll like this.