film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: Skyfall

Now we are getting into the Bonds I began to like once I caught up with the rest of the series. This 2012 Bond film has also been seen on many top 10 Best Bond films of all time (admittedly not high probably 7 or 6 tops). Skyfall is in my opinion the best performances of not just Daniel Craig, but of Dame Judi Dench and without question one of the best villains in the Bond franchise in a long time. Because it is unavoidable, spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and field agent he later learns is named Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are after a mercenary, Patrice (Ola Rapace) who has stolen files of the real names of undercover agents. Bond and Patrice fight on top of a train and M (Judi Dench) orders Moneypenny to take a shot. She hits Bond instead and Patrice escapes; Bond is assumed to be dead. A few months later M is being pressured into retiring by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, but then MI6 gets hacked and the headquarters blows up, not before M receives a message taunting her. Bond returns to help M and despite his failing physical and psychological tests, M clears him for duty. After receiving gadgets from the new Q (Ben Whishaw) Bond sets out to discover who is after M. With a little help from a woman named Severine (Berenice Lim Marlohe) Bond soon meets the man responsible: Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M’s past she disavowed after he hacked the Chinese government without her permission and was taken prisoner. Bond takes him prisoner, but soon realizes that was what he wanted; however he escaped before Bond catches on. Bond takes M to Skyfall, his parents’s house in the Scottish Highlands, but tells Q to leave a trail for Silva to follow, ready to end this. Bond, M and the Skyfall keeper Kincade (Albert Finney) fight off Silva and his men, Bond eventually killing Silva, but M is wounded in the fight and dies in Bond’s arms. At the end of the film Bond returns to the field, Moneypenny becomes a secretary and Mallory becomes the new M.

As far as Bond films go this is one of my favorites. Everything from the writing, acting, action and some very incredible cinematography was just perfect. Daniel Craig really shined as 007 in this movie, I’m glad we got Moneypenny and Q in here after a lengthy absence, and while Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw are good they do not hold a candle to the likes of Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewellyn respectively. For me at least two performances really stand out from the movie and that is Javier Bardem as Silva and Judi Dench as M. While Le Chiffre was a fantastic villain in Casino Royale he wasn’t the main bad guy which is why Silva for me is the best Bond villain in the Daniel Craig Bond franchise. He is not only scary, bu is wicked smart and is willing to do whatever it takes to kill M, no matter who is in his way. While Judi Dench has been M for many years it was her final turn as the character where I thought she did her best work; while M was always a big player in the franchise we hadn’t really know much about the character or had a movie focus on someone other than Bond until Skyfall. I was a little sad when she died, but I think Mallory will do a good job with the role of M but that is a story for another day. On a final note while I haven’t mentioned the songs in the other films I did like them however I LOVE “Skyfall” by Adele; it also won the Oscar for Best Original Song. I think if you like the Bond franchise or are just starting out then put Skyfall on your must watch list right now.

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film, James Bond

Move Review: Casino Royale (2006 film)

A reboot of the Bond franchise, and one that was very much needed. Released in 2006, Casino Royale gave a fresh start to the popular franchise and one of the best portrayals of our favorite secret agent. The reason why I have to say 2006 is because there was another Casino Royale in the Bond franchise, but it was not released by MGM so it does not count. Only because it is unavoidable, spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is now a OO agent and has received his license to kill after killing a terrorist contact and a traitorous section chief in the British Embassy. However it is not long before Bond’s methods of shoot first ask questions later get on the nerves of M (Judi Dench). Meanwhile the mysterious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) introduces warlord of the Lord’s Resistance Army Steven Obanno (Isaach de Bankole) to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelson) a man who finances terrorist plots. However when given a large sum of money by Obanno to invest, Le Chiffre instead uses it to bet on the failure of the airline Skyfleet; which Bond ruins when trying to capture a target. Forced to find a way to get the money back, Le Chiffre organizes a Texas hold’em tournament and MI6 try to capitalize on it; hoping a defeat will force Le Chiffre to turn to them for help in exchange for information on his clients. Bond works with British treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), MI6 agent Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and later CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) into winning the game. Le Chiffre, now desperate, kidnaps Vesper and Bond to get the money back and reveals Mathis is a mole for him. Bond does not tell Le Chiffre where the money is, despite hearing Vesper getting tortured, however Mr. White shows up, kills Le Chiffre and frees Bond and Vesper. Short time later Bond and Vesper seem to be happy together, Bond even resigning from MI6 to be with her, but when M reveals that the money won from the tournament was never deposited, and the banker in charge says the money is being withdrawn Bond realizes Mathis wasn’t the mole; Vesper is. His attempts to take her end is her own death. Bond denounces Vesper, until M reveals Vesper only did it because her lover was captured by the organization who employed Le Chiffre and was forced to become a double agent; however she exchanged the money for Bond’s life proving she did love him. Bond also sees that Vesper sent him information prior to her death on how to find Mr. White, leading to the next movie.

What I loved about Casino Royale was how it was sort of a throwback to the other Bond films as far as fighting goes. Bond was more hand to hand combat rather than having his gun at the ready all time time, much like some of the earlier films. The action, writing, cinematography and acting for me at least was spot on perfect. I know when he was first cast as 007 there were many who criticized Daniel Craig. However after the movie I am convinced many of the critics became silent. I really enjoy seeing Craig as Bond, and was glad he has continued with the franchise (more than likely he will be gone after the 25 film but you never know). For me Daniel Craig portrays Bond as a guy who does shoot first and ask questions later at first, but after his mission must come to terms with what has happened and it shapes him throughout the rest of the movies. My thoughts on Vesper will be later so I want to move on to Le Chiffre. This dude creeps the heck out of me, not just by how he looks but his demeanor; can we also give a HUGE round of applause for Mads Mikkelson. Le Chiffre can say with one look how much he wants to kill you, and the scene where he tortures Bond butt naked is where he really shines, and this includes when he was more than willing to let his girlfriend loose an arm for his deeds. I will say that if you want to start watching the Daniel Craig franchise you will have to watch them in order, but Casino Royale is one amazing start.

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film, James Bond

Movie Review: The World Is Not Enough

As far as Bond films go I know I have seen worse, but I know there is better; if you recall this was the only Pierce Bronsan Bond film not in my top 10 Bond films. While there were elements I did not like, I wouldn’t go so far as to say no if you want to watch The World Is Not Enough, I would say sure. A spoiler alert is ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Bond starts off in a Swiss bank retrieving money for oil tycoon and friend of M (Judi Dench) Sir Robert King (David Calder) after the original MI6 agent who was supposed to do it was killed. Bond just escapes with the money after the bankers try to kill him without getting the name of the assassin. However the money is booby-trapped and before Bond could warn King the money explodes and King is killed. Bond goes after the assassin, but she kills herself out of fear of the perpetrator behind it and Bond is hurt. Bond traces the money back to a terrorist who has been after MI6 and the King family for a long time: Renard (Robert Carlyle) a man with a bullet in his head preventing him from feeling anything, and who once kidnapped, among other things including cutting off part of her ear, King’s daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau) for ransom and M advised King not to pay it; Elektra managed to escape on her own. M assigns Bond to watch over Elektra as she observes the construction of a pipe line in Azerbaijan, after getting some gear from Q (Desmond Llewellyn in his final role before his fatal car accident) and his assistant Bond dubs R (John Cleese). Bond and Elektra are attacked on ski mountain, which Bond suspects has to do with Renard; he visits his acquaintance Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) to get more information. He is able to track down Renard, and also meets nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), but Renard gets away with a bomb and plutonium. However he places some doubt in Bonds mind as to Elektra’s innocence. Bond warns M, who doesn’t seem to believe it, until the bomb shows up in the pipeline. Bond and Jones let the bomb blow up, and Elektra’s true plans are reveled; she is the one in charge after seducing Renard and kidnaps M. She wanted to make her father pay not only for not paying her ransom but from taking her mother’s oil company. She wants to destroy the Russian oil pipeline forcing them to only use the King’s pipeline at a high price. Bond, Jones, M and eventually Zukovsky are not going to let that happen.

Now the acting by many of the people in this movie are not fantastic, Bronsan is not at his best and well my thoughts on Richards will be later, but not everyone is bad. Marceau is pretty good as the first, and so far only, female Bond villain. It was actually kinda of a twist because Carlyle was so good as Renard you actually thought he was the main bad guy. They are the only memorable acting parts in the movie. The writing could have been better in many places, but the action and gadgets more than make up for it. If you are interested in The World Is Not Enough then by all means watch it, if not I wouldn’t put it too high on the watch list.

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film, James Bond

Movie Review: Tomorrow Never Dies

Another Bond film and I am pretty sure the first one I watched in full before I was really interested in Bond. Released in 1997 it was the only Pierce Brosnan Bond film that did not open top of the box office (Titanic). Still this is a pretty good Bond film with one of the best girls and villains of all time in the franchise. In case you haven’t seen it spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Bond starts off on the Russian border spying on a terrorists arms bazaar and just barely escapes after a missile is sent into blow up the base with two nuclear torpedoes still on the base. However an encoder is stolen by cyber-terrorist Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay) who is in the employ of Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) a media baron who uses the encoder to send a British ship of course and into Chinese waters, uses a stealth ship in the command of Mr. Stamper (Gotz Otto) to sink the ship, destroy a Chinese jet and kill the ship survivors. M (Judi Dench) is only given 48 hours before the British retaliate and she sends Bond to investigate Carver as he seemed to know before MI6 did, using Carver current wife, and Bonds ex, Paris (Terri Hatcher) to get some help. However after getting the encoder, Bond learns Paris was killed by Carver’s orders by the memorable Dr. Kaufman (Vincent Schiavelli); Bond kills him which puts a bigger target on his back because he mentored Stamper. He along with Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) a Chinese agent team up to stop Carver from starting World War 3, and his plan to get exclusive broadcast rights in China because of it.

If you recall this started my top 10 of Bond films and with good reasons. Brosnan is great as 007 as usual but something about this performance stuck out to me, maybe because this turned personal after Paris’s death. The film also had great action, cars and gadgets; the writing could have been better in a few places, but not a bad film. My thoughts on Wai Lin will be another time so I’d like to focus on other characters. Judi Dench was once again amazing as M, between the other guys in charge let’s face it she was the one with a cooler head (I love the part where the Admiral goes “what is he [Bond] doing and M responds “his job’). Samantha Bond was also good as Moneypenny and Desmond Llewellyn as Q giving Bond the instructions on his car is pure gold for the actor. Jonathan Pryce has always been an actor I knew was top notch and he shined as the crazy Carver; he seriously wanted to start a war just so he could get broadcast rights in China! How insane must you be!? Schiavelli is only on screen for a few moments but it is memorable. Stamper is another big blond henchman, and if I’m being honest not the best. The rest of the cast is good and the movie is enjoyable to watch. If interested please go ahead and watch.

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film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: GoldenEye

Now we are getting into the Bond films I am pretty sure everyone knows about; they may have watched the movie or played the video game either way. Constantly listed as one of the best Bond films, usually within the top two at most, GoldenEye was the first Bond film in over six years, and it was well worth the wait,; i would even call it a must see even if you are not a Bond fan. As always spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) along with a fellow MI6 agent Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) infiltrate and destroy a Soviet chemicals facility holding weapons. Bond escapes but Alec is taken and seemingly killed by Colonel Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov (Gottfried John). Nine years later Bond is assigned to find out more about the Janus crime syndicate, which he does by following one of the members (if you have not seen the film I swear this is the name) Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) does make a joke about it. Unfortunately Bond is one step behind Onatopp after she kills a Canadian Navy admiral for his credentials and steals a Eurocopter Tiger helicopter. She along with Ourumov go to Siberia; stealing the control disks for the Goldeneye satellites, satellite weapons used during the Cold War and massacre the entire staff except for programmer Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) who is on their side and Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) who hid out until she could escape. Bond is assigned by M (Dame Judi Dench) to investigate the attack. With the help of CIA operative Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker, told you we’d see him again) and reluctant ally Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) Bond meets with the person responsible for everything; Janus aka the not so dead Alec Trevelyan. Having vowed to destroy MI6, not for leaving him for dead, but for the deaths of his Cossack parents during World War II, Trevelyan along with Onatopp, Boris and Ourumov plan to use the GoldenEye satellites to destroy the British economy by robbing the Bank of England and erase its financial┬árecords. Bond along with Natalya and Wade are determined to make sure that does not happen.

This is without question one of the best Bond films to ever be made and it was sort of a breath of fresh air for the franchise. Many made their debut as characters we know and love; Brosnan as 007, Dench as M and Bond as Moneypenny with only Desmond Llewellyn returning as Q. The Brosnan era Bonds were the ones I think my generation are more familiar with and why these are some of my favorite Bond films, but of course GoldenEye is at the top. I think Brosnan is my second favorite Bond (Connery of course at the top spot) as he is the right amount of charming but dangerous. He is quick to pick up his gun or how to get the bad guy in a deadly position before ultimately executing depending on the situation. I, like I know so many others, absolutely love Judi Dench as M. Many will argue is the best version of that character, and you won’t get an argument from me. While I think Dench is great as M in this era of Bond we all know she shines in the Craig versions but that is for another day. Before I move on I also love Samantha Bond as Moneypenny; while she does not come close to Lois Maxwell she does very well.

My thoughts on Natalya will be later so I’d like to focus on the characters that let’s face it we all love to hate in this movie; the villains. Sean Bean is one of the finest actors today and this is one of his best works. Trevelyan is basically an evil version of Bond and one of the best villains not just in the franchise but in movies (OK not that high on the list but right where he should be). Ourumov is also fantastic as it seemed for a long time he was the bad guy, but nope. He’s more working for his own goals rather than Trevelyan, but still he is great. I’ve always loved Alan Cumming in movies and he is both a joy and a nuisance to watch here, “I am INVINCIBLE”, really dude. While all three of them stick out in their own way however no villain or femme fatale is more memorable in this film than Onatopp. Let me give you some of the reasons of the top of my head: that name, she is gorgeous as well as deadly, she takes (ahem) pleasure out killing and for the love of God uses her THIGHS to kill a guy while taking pleasure! Tell me that is not crazy. I honestly think this is one of the very few women on the bad guy side that Bond actually does not sleep with, if HE doesn’t sleep with HER you know he knows how nuts he is.

The story of GoldenEye is very well written as is the action. I could not think of a Bond movie up until that point that had more guns and explosions, which is probably why people love this movie so much in addition to the performances. If you have not seen GoldenEye I would say watch this as soon as you can, even if you are not a huge fan of the Bond franchise.

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