Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Synopsis: When the dark past catches up with M, Bond is driven to new extremes to ensure both the safety of his boss - and the security of MI6.

No country for Blond men...

007 Movies are pretty much, without doubt, a very successful franchise formula that has worked fantastically for the most part over their life-span to date. Sometimes a director may want to 'mix things up', but when the recipe is right, you don't want to change it too much - or the consumers will look elsewhere (I'm looking at you - Jason Bourne!). The boxes need to be ticked. Exhilarating opening scene, Stunning title sequence, hot Bond babes (preferrably with minimal clothing. Seems to make a difference... ) cool gadgets, inventive chase scenes, memorable baddies, and above all else, a Bond who appeals to both sexes with equal measure. Check all these boxes - and the foundation is laid for a successful movie.

Increasingly though, in this current climate, all those requisite specifics will come to nought if you don't have a compelling storyline that makes you believe. Without this, the resounding hollowness can be spotted from a mile away. Like any franchise, the opportunity to go one better for the next entry in the series is invariably an attraction that many a Bond director has felt compelled to include when filming. A case of well, we did this last time, so... And if they fall into that trap - then the audiences are smart enough to see it for what it is. More cheap action stunts - just for the sake of the movie - that are not adding anything substantially different to preceeding entries before this latest outing. Wisely, this new Bond director (Sam Mendes - "American Beauty" "Road to Perdition" "Jarhead") is cut from a cloth of intelligent, thought provoking cinema that never forgets the key aspect of any film - a great story. If the story isn't attention grabbing, then no amount of meaningless action scenes will change the fundamental outlook of the film going publics opinion that its a crap movie. Once word of mouth gets out, sayonnara to any meaningful returns for the studio on their investment. Of course in saying this, Bond has been on an upward trajectory since Daniel Craig's arrival as the most current version of the iconic spy. Quantum of Solace aside, the new Bond has got the right tone, attitude, and conviction with its approach as to how he is perceived in this day and age. Why is this?  Because they're telling the right kind of story! The new angle with Skyfall is that we now (for the very first time incredibly!) get to see a back story to James. Where did he come from? And crucially, what events shaped his destiny to end up where he is today? It's this refreshing change that invigorates Skyfall convincingly - and factor in M's past indiscretions - together they add up to one of the best stories ever presented in the name of Bond.

One other key factor in the relative success or failure in a Bond movie is the absolute need for a villain who is distinctly memorable, someone who has screen presence, and that all ellusive 'X-factor' that is both a movie cliche - but firmly rooted in film lore. Vader, Lecter, Bates are but a few names that need no further explanation to flim fans who revere these evil iconic characters. So into the fray steps Jarvier Bardem, with another haircut which is just as distinctive as his one in No Country for Old Men. He invests his role with an undercurrent of melancholy which is quite disarming initially. Till he reveals his true colours in due course, when he morphs into the traditional psycho-nasty villain role that is customary in these fraught situations with his nemesis - Bond.

Dame Judi Dench is once again, commanding in her role as M. She realises that her life will never be the same again when the consequences of her past transgressions stop biting at her heels - and threaten to consume her with unequivocal finality. Ralph Fiennes makes a memorable entrance to the world of Bond, I suspect we'll see a lot more of him in the next few outings. Q meanwhile, has reversed in age, now his face is that of Ben Whishaw. Again, he could be in for the long haul. A very worthy incarnation of this popular character.

50 Years is a long time in anyones lifetime, so it's well worth celebrating the major milestone that this achievement merits with the latest - and very possibly - one of the best Bond movies ever made.

Jamies rating?

J for... Jewel

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