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James Bond January

Tomorrow Never Dies: when a UK ship sinks in Chinese waters all is not what it seems. After some rummaging about 007 uncovers a crazy man’s plan to start WWIII, for exclusive media coverage and ratings!

Genuinely one of the more average days in the life of James Bond...

Another top-quality intro side-mission in the form of Bond gatecrashing a terrorist arms bazaar where he kicks the shit out of everyone, blows the shit out of everything (with the help of a jet fighter) then out-flies the shit out of a trained pilot; or as M calls it ‘doing his job’

Hands down the coolest scene in the film!

This opening really sets the bar for Tomorrow Never Dies and the action throughout is second to none; soundproof studio fist fight, newspaper factory punch up, RC car chase, Hong Kong building traversing and bike chase, Jackie Chan inspired technical Kung Fu fight, stealth boat finale… the last three films have such a great action track record!

Stomper - yet another henchman in the mould of From Russia's 'Red'.

Bonds era-specific calling card for the 1990s appears to be technology. Not only is it becoming more prevalent in the stories, but one of GoldenEye‘s main baddies was a – then – rare and mysterious computer H4x0r! Upping the ante here, we have the visual stereotype of a IT virgin (fat, beard, probably plays Warhammer in his mum’s basement) branded a “Techno Terrorist” and given the same billing as the physically perfect and ruthless Stamper. As far as henchmen go, must try harder.

China's answer to 007, waving him on from the sidelines

Q branch also rolls along with the times, producing two of the best gadgets to come out of the department: the burglar-and-bulletproof RC BMW, and the Phone/Taser/Car Control/Fingerprint scanner. What a combo! This is the very outer-limits of Bond gadgetry in that they seem completely plausible, but so ridiculously cool that they couldn’t possibly exist.

Ladies and Gentlemen - you're looking at the perfect James Bond here!

Brosnan pulls out what’s probably my single favourite Bond performance. He amplifies all of the traits displayed in GoldenEye,  honing in on becoming even smoother, smarter and deadlier. Biggest improvements are the action, and dry one-line deliveries – “They’ll print anything these days” is delivered absolutely perfectly. This performance looks as effortless as the horizontal Bond controlling the car from the back seat of his BMW.

Not unlike the gadets, carver treads that line between rediculous and real

The supporting cast are all overshadowed by Pryce as Elliot Carver – who is fantastic at being restrained and subdued, yet ridiculously theatrical (especially in his eyebrows, scheme and super-ridiculous typing). Despite little screen time Teri Hatcher does well to convince us that she’s known Bond from way back.

Bottoms up. Teri makes an arse of herself!

With big GoldenEye boots to fill Tomorrow Never Dies is every bit as good a film, although it does switch the character development for more straigh-up action set pieces. There are plenty of hits, but it’s not without a few misses – the most cringe-worthy being a Mel Brooks style parody hitman. Another rock-solid stripped down Bond film.

Score: 7/10

This guy could genuinely walk straight into an Austin Powers film

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Elliot Carver – dastardly pantomime baddie with insane delusions. 7
Henchmen: Stomper – another Red-Esque brute / Gunther: Fat beardy hacker / Weird-faced hitman. 6
Bond Girl: Mrs Carver – beautiful. Lucy Lui – hot, feisty and hold her own well. 8
Action: Terrorist Bazaar / Soundproof Studio / Newspaper Printer / Hong Kong HQ escape / Motorbike Chase / Kung Fu / Stealth Boat. 9

Handcuffed on a bike - made for some good 'out of the box' moments

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GoldenEye: [Spoilers] when a global terrorist organisation steals a civilisation-busting weapon system called GoldenEye only one super spy can save the world from the looming doom.

Can a normal man catch up with a heavy, aerodynamic aeroplane... Duh!!

Who’s this idiot-hole jumping off the side of a reservoir and grapple-gunning his way to the bottom? Then taking on a room full of Russians, then stealing a bike, then the plane in mid air… The guy’s insane! This is an outstanding pre-title sequence with 007 and 006 (but how did he get there?) carrying out a break-in at a Russian chemical plant – definitely one of the best, most exciting, most tense and most action-packed of the intros. The (now legendary) N64 game captured facility so well when you see the film again.

It's all 6s and 7s in this scene - and film!

With the fantastic Licence to Kill proving to be a box office misfire – I blame the studio – and the franchise stuck in a rut for over five years the series was having a bit of an identity crisis, and it definitely shows in GoldenEye, which to me feels like a half-arsed re-boot.

Not particularly menacing, unless you have a fear of penis-shaped noses

On one hand we have the good old Commies getting themselves into trouble, a trusty space weapon of doom, a villain that wants to wrong all of the world’s rights, a bunch of big-budget action set pieces, enough explosives to match Licence to Kill and some truly awful accents (taxi  for Janssen & Cumming)… It’s like nothing’s changed.

M, a lady, in a Bond film.... OUTRAGE!!!!

On the other hand hand we have a new Bond (with an 80s lady haircut), a new female M (with a boys haircut), a new Moneypenny (with a drag queen haircut – I’M SO CONFUSED!). Despite having a typical Bond story, there’s something different about it… The original parts are all here, but it just doesn’t feel the same! In one of the film’s most telling scenes M notes that in a post Cold War world James Bond is a sexist, irrelevant dinosaur – shame on her!! A few other characters also jibe with Bond about being old hat…Definitely uncalled for given what JB has done over the years, and guess who has to save the day / world / girl / civilisation again!?!? – idiots!!

Bond nerd and Bond girl, two great characters that are both crucial to the story

As far as the new Bond goes, I really rate Brosnan. Growing up through his films (this was the first one I saw in in a cinema, thanks mum!) he’s the Bond of my era, but also, looking back through the years – for me, he’s the first ‘full package’. Sure, Connery is the Bond – oozing charm and humour, Lazenby was the timid one, Moore too theatrical and Dalton quite mysterious – Brosnan rolls all these traits into one performance, creating a full character for the first time.

Sharpe and Steele - surely a winning 00-combo!

Other unforgettable moments from GoldenEye are the: Tank Vs Train fight, the sexually charged vixen Onatopp (hubba hubba), unashamed 1990s SFX abuse with everything and everyone being blown and smashed up, the blatant IBM advertising, “I am invincible” and the super-cool satellite fight at the end.

Xenia Onatopp: has the gadget to rule all gadgets, killer thighs

For the first time in decades we have a great (and quite large) number of solid – fleshed out – characters that all bounce off and balance each other – because although the action is memorable in GoldenEye, it’s really the cast that have to make us believe that the world’s change AND push the picture forward. While it’s more of a facelift than a proper restart the Bond team did well to nail GoldenEye and save the feanchise that so many had written off. Solid 90s blockbuster.

Score: 7/10

A massive tank, drifting 'round corners and through buildings... awesome

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Sean Bean – pretty insane, wants to throw the UK to the dogs!! 7
Henchmen: Femke Janssen, Penis-nose’d Russian, Invincible Boris. 7
Bond Girls: Femke Jannsen – likes it rough. Programmer chick – very attractive. 8
Action: Opening Scene, Car Chase, Jail Breakout, Tank Chase, Antena & Base destruction 7

First film and we've already seen Brosnan's Ohhhhhhh-Ohhhh face!

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Aye em eenveenseebiilll

Bonus round - so you'll never, EVER look at this poster the same again

Licence to Kill: on his wedding day Felix Leiter’s runs into some trouble. When the CIA or MI6 don’t want to pursue the case, Bond goes dark and has to infiltrate a drug cartel to avenge his long-time friend and partner, who’s bailed 007 out over the years more than he’s ever given credit for!

I'll take your feeble car-wheelie and raise you, Moore!

It’s quite unfortunate that the next film was delayed for so long, rendering this Dalton’s last appearance by default. He gets a hard time for only having two films, but given that he turned down the first offer some 20 years prior to The Living Daylights and got shafted by a rights war at the other end, he’s definitely the unluckiest actor to play Bond. As mentioned before I think he’s great, and this film has my favourite Dalton moment, when he shouts at the Bond girl “Ya bloody luckey ta be alyve!!” Fantastic accent lapse! The also has a toughness lapse at the end when he turns all gooey and gets the girl.

"Are you sanchez? No? Are you sanchez? No!? But I... I am Sanchez!"

There’s two great bad guys at the table here; Sanchez (Davi) and his right-hand runt man Dario (Del Toro) – and being honest, even if these guys were to glide around the scenes in bright pink suits they’d still be absolute badasses. Unlike previous villains these guys don’t just look the like nasty pieces of work; they carry out of the most brutal and often senseless murders of all the movies. True to the 1980s, their story is essentially America’s ‘War on Drugs’ put on the big screen – spookily foretelling a similar story to real criminals like Pablo Escobar.

Toilets are over there gringo

The bottom line in Licence to Kill is that when you pit the darkest James Bond against two of the most ruthless villains, it can only mean one thing – a bloody corpsemageddon!!

Even though he helps terrorists, this guy could smile his way to safety

There’s not a lot of balls-to-the-wall action, but when it rolls round it’s handled expertly and stylishly done; particularly the barfight (even though it’s a little Airplane! there’s some cool bits) and the final 20 minutes – peaking with the coolest multiple uses of 18-wheelers known to man – are absolutely fantastic to watch; just stunt after stunt after stunt punctuated with massive (real) explosions.

KABOOM!!! Looks a lot better than CGI explosions

This is the first film that’s fully an out-and-out revenge-driven story, and that’s why it’s one of the better plots. There’s very little backup, and Bond has to rely more on his smarts than anything else. He gets into some pretty hairy situations too, and watching him escape or get bailed out is just a little edgier knowing that the cavalry isn’t just around the corner.

Q's supposed to be on holiday... yet still has Bond's back. What a guy!

Other delightful portions of Licence to Kill are: the plane fishin’ scene at the start, manta ray disguise, cutting edge computers that made ‘CD-ROMs’ look tiny, everyone smoking furiously, and Felix himself being scarily calm considering that he’d just lost is better half (and lower half).

Felix getting a bum deal in the shark pen

This is easily one of the better Bond films and one with the most clout, not just because it’s dark and violent, but because it’s the most grounded Bond picture to date. The mix of a gripping story, believable characters and well-made action is a truly explosive combo. Finally, there’s Dalton, who’s not just a great Bond in his own right, but reiterated the darker side of the worlds best spy, a side that Brosnan and Craig would both use to their advantage. Criminally underrated film.

Score: 7.5/10

Knife to the head... not the best first date 007's ever had. Nor the worst...

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Sanchez – ruthless escobarian guy. Soft spot for ‘loyalty’ though. 8
Henchmen: Switchblade Dario – pretty nasty smile / Killfer (bent cop) / Milton (sailor moustace). 7
Action: shootout and ‘plane fishin’ / underwater fight / Barfight / Grinder / Tankers. 8
Babes: Ginger toy boy exec secretary – boys haircut / Sanchez’s deceitful girlfriend – eyebrows. 7

Bond daydreaming... probably about shooting someone in the face. Let's hope Dalton one day gets proper recognition for his time with the PPK

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The Living Daylights: James Bond must ensure a senior Soviet defector’s safe escape from the country, then hunt down and kill a senior KGB agent, then find and foil the plans of a notorious arms dealer, then help an Afghan militia, then give a cellist the international break she deserves…

Who's this windswept fellow?

Almost 20 years after initially being approached to play Bond, Dalton finally gets his shot. I’ll put it out there straight away – I think Dalton’s great, and brings some much needed credibility back to the world’s greatest spy. This 007 is broodier, more intense, ruthless, dangerous again. He doesn’t care about the theatricalities, most evident when he charges through the immortal (but seemingly obligatory) “Bond… James Bond” line.

Bond, James Bond - and he will totally fucking shoot you!

This new style is further aided by some of the bleakest scenes in the series so far; we see 004’s lifeless corpse bounce down a cliff and slam into a gutter, Bond’s ally get mauled by a glass sliding door. Bond also tears the clothes off a defenseless woman to form a distraction… we truly believe he’s capable of anything that he’ll use his Licence to Kill at any point.

1980s Bond roughs up the bad guys - not the naked ladies - for a change

It’s all going quite well, and the plot’s developing nicely… then it all goes a tits up when they do a SATC2 and start traipsing around the desert in “Arabian Knights” fashion with camels, turbans, beards, horses and AK-47s.

"Could he really be the 'Lawrence of my Labia'?"

The lack of a definitive baddie is both good and bad; it’s the single biggest reason for a strong, twisting and intelligent plot (not just ‘jape with and hunt down the villain’), on the other side of the coin, history has shown that strong villains can make or break a film, and for the first hour or so Bond’s essentially just chasing his own tail. The lack of a strong Bond girl also affects the film, and puts – quite unfairly – far more emphasis on Dalton’s breakthrough performance.

A highly divisive film, some people think it took a wrong turn...

The action is back on the right tracks, opening as it means to continue with the Gibraltar invasion – a great piece of espionage/action cinema that’s both tense and unpredictable, yet still so very 1980s cool! The car chase from a B-road – through a truck – and on to a frozen lake is also one of the best; and the hand-to-hand milkman vs chef fight is one of the best since From Russia with Love. Other sweet aspects to The Living Daylights are: the pipeline escape (and boosom distraction), such a hack theme song, The new ditsy Moneypenny (Definitely the end of an era), travel-companion feel – Russia, through central Europe, and the Middle-east.

Astin Martin with rockets, lasers, skis and a jet engine!! Hell yea!

In the same sense that chunks of A View To A Kill were perhaps ‘Dalton’-styled with Moore at the reins, sections of this are definitely Moore-centric with Dalton plonked in front of the camera. The first 2/3 is a rock solid thriller/spy film, with feet back firmly on the ground – and the last 1/3 is passable but feels somewhat gratuitous in the action department. It’s definitely a step in the right direction after Moore’s tenure.

Score: 6.5/10

"Eee got thu flew"

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: hard to tell, but ends up being the military strategist arms dealer yank – who plays with toys – FAIL. 2
Henchmen: Aryan muscleman – pretty brutal. Slick-haired Ruskie Koskov – pretty boy. 5
Bond Girl: Boat Babe – pretty good. Cello chick Kara Milovy – vapid vacuum, no glitz. 4
Action: Gibraltar + Explosives truck / Kitchen fist-fight / Snow Chase (Ace car + cello) / Rooftop Run / Prison fight / air base raid / luggage net. 8

Don't know if Bond could cooperate with muslim fighters these days...

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A View To A Kill: After recovering a unique computer chip from a dead 003 in the USSR, Bond traces it back to Zorin industries, and soon discovers that Mad Max Zorin plans to flood silicon valley and monopolise the computer microchip market.

Recent studies blame 007 for global warming!

The film opens with a Zorin disclaimer, the first time this has been done, and strange given the number of characters ‘borrowed’, based or impersonated from the real world through the years. It also opens with one of the best theme songs: Duran Duran’s a View to a Kill. This is an unrivaled 1980s pop song!

The method of transportation that best suits the complex life of a modern villain

It’s usually crazy science and physics that push the James Bond plots forward (lasers, death rays, nukes…) but this film’s all about super-crazy geology, which for some reason feels harder to debunk – it could be more ridiculous than pew pew laser fights in space but who knows?!?

Moneypenny's last outing too - she got drunk at the races! Good on her.

As with any Bond film, A View To A Kill plays to the trends of the era, taking place in Silicon Valley, we have some new-age computers, and it’s essentially about one man becoming the king of microchips. Finally moving on from the ridiculous tone of the 70s movies this feels like a true stepping stone on to the darker Bond vibe; with people being killed right, left, centre, and literally getting machine gunned down in their dozens!

A cheeky sparring session with May Day and Zorin

In saying that, there’s still time to make the police look like buffoons in a token ‘wreck a police car’ scene on the raising bridge. The  renault cut-down-car-chase through Paris feels like Moore putting his final stamp on the film before he leaves. You kind of get the feeling that this was more of a goodbye Roger party at time, with everyone turning up and having a laugh on set.

Heads up!

Zorin/Walken is great as a bad guy – first out and out “genetic experiment” baddie and looks intense and insane throughout – usually laughing and at his happiest when he’s inflicting fear, desperation and murder on someone! Not many of the scenes or action set pieces are overly memorable; however, the appearance of Zoro now and then is really when this one comes to life.

Score: 5.5/10

The sound of retirement beckoning Roger

TOP TRUMPS
Villain:
Zorin – rogue KGB agent, computer chip cartel, nasty man with a nasty plan! 8
Henchmen: Grace Jones and her black arse. Scarface chap – lame. 6
Bond Girl: Jenny Flex & Stacey Sutton. Classic 80s Golden Girl look. 8
Action: Snow chase / Paris cut-down-car chase / horse race / Cty hall / Firetruck chase / Mine / Golden gate 8

So long Roger... you horny ol' dawg!

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Octopussy: When agent 009 gets killed holding a fake Faberge egg MI6 put their best spy on the case, which leads Bond to a plot involving an Indian Prince, crazy Russian general, some chick with eight vaginas, a circus, a nuclear bomb and prospect of WWIII (again).

Pleasuring Octopussy - You're doing it wrong!

It’s somewhat sad that the most memorable aspect of this film is it’s terrible stereotype – India is summarised by elephants, tigers, coal walkers, beardy wise men, snake charmers, motorised rickshaws, belly dancers, bed o’ nails men, and the one thing everyone must do when in India – a Tarzan swing complemented with the Oo-aa-oo-aa-ooo!!!! Not contempt with offending one nation we see a lovely German couple offer Bond some beer and wurst…

Turbon, Check. Beard, Check. Indian Musket... Check.

On the up-side, this film ties two of the staple evil schemes into one film: one is the tried and tested Cold War / WWIII / nuclear threat complete with the ticking time-bomb scenario; the other is an underground smuggling operation that Bond must smash to pieces.

Tick tock... looks strangely familiar

Women play in interesting role in Octopussy: Bond is bailed out by a female agent in the opening mini-mission, helped tremendously by Octopussy who’s quite the strong character (although wooed by James – obviously), there’s a whole island of empowered red-jumpsuited women (some also wooed by James – obviously). Things are finally looking up for the ladies!! Oh… wait…

Cutting edge technology means only one thing: cutting edge perversions.

… the unbelievable rapid camera zoom in and out of a lady’s cleavage!!! Seriously!? I wonder if women even have the right to vote yet in Bond’s parallel universe!?!

What's that rule about strangers and cars again... ?

Other footnotes are Bond’s suspiciously well-fitted waistcoat (stolen from a guy 1/2 his size), the crocodile stealth boat, awesome car on the train tracks scene, ridiculous British hot-air balloon, Bond straddling and sliding down a staircase towards a nut-buster, and yet another groan of the immortal “Ohhhh Jaaammeeesss”

Cheer up Roger, only one more film to go!

By this time, Moore had explicitly wanted to leave the role, and it’s safe to say that he’d done his time, however with Never Say Never Again (unofficial Thunderball remake starring Sean Connery) being released the same year – EON believed that an established Bond like Moore would be required to draw in as large a crowd as possible. Maud Adams also returns as another Bond Girl. No complaints from this guy though.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee - can't remember who's who

All-in, Octopussy’s probably one of the most lackluster films of the 22. Some aspects like the stereotyping, you want to forget straight away, other aspects like the Villains, Henchmen and action are so generic that they’re hard to remember.

Score: 3/10

Penelope Smallbone (left) was due to be Monneypenny's replacement... turns out the public preferred GILFs. Unfortunate.

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Kamal Khan & Soviet Madman – respectfully smart and mad but totally forgettable. 4
Henchmen: Beardy mental turbon Gobinda – Possibly posessed. Knife throwing brothers. Super metal yo-yo man. 4
Bond Girl: Anorexic chick with stupidly long hair / Octopussy with her 8 vaginas / Bianca at start! 7
Action: Mini-jet, spalstick moped chase, jungle hunt, bomb, car chase, airplane. 5

India's Yo-Yo champ!

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For Your Eyes Only: Bond is sent to stop the KGB from buying a stolen device that can control nuclear missiles in the British Navy submarine fleet – ahhh, back down to earth with a Cold War plot!

Despite pumping half the world Bond clearly still hurts over Teresa

Opening up with Bond visiting Teresa’s grave is a great touch, reminding the audiences about James’ backstory, and adding more depth to Bond than a dozen soliloquies could. It’s the first of many OHMSS vibes coming out of For Your Eyes Only: Teressa Bond, Ski Chase, Blofeld, Trying to save a woman on the beach…

Blofeld with his remote controlled chopper

After the initial burst of promise we cut to the unbelievably terrible Blofeld / Helicopter scene, which is just beyond ridiculous, random and feels so out of place. The last time we saw him, he was slammed into the middle of an oil-rig control room mid-explosion!

Astin Martin, Bentley, Lotus, Mercedes... Citroën 2CV.

 

Carrying on with the absurd we get one of the worst (comedy) car chases of the series with the yellow Citroen car and a downhill chase in the Mediterranean. Again, unforgivable, the height of campy, and really sums up the Moore era for me.

Emile Leopold Locque - doesn't look like much, but he's a right brutal bastard!

With all this tomfoolery going on some of the more brutal scenes feel like massive slaps to the face: a couple getting machine gunned down, agent with a slashed-up neck and the unforgettably heinous hit and run on the beach, which looks so real and horrific!

She had a cracking time with that car!

Harking back to the original less-frill film like Dr No & OHMSS there’s a distinct lack of gadgetry, other than the Hi-tech 3D visualiser and an exploding car (that doesn’t need to be driven off a cliff first). Like Thunderball, there’s a few underwater scenes: the rovers & big white suit sections are pretty cool. Lessons learned also as the sound is a lot better than before.

What's the best thing about Bond girls? He gets older, but they stay the same age!!!

Perhaps the only truly memorable section from FYEO is the rock-climbing piece, where Bond is literally hanging by a thread, and menacing guards looking to cut him out of the picture. Even though you know he must make it, it’s one of the few action scenes that’s genuinely thrilling, and hard to watch – for all the right reasons.

Countess Lisl von Schlaf - Brosnan's first wife. The 'Stiffler's Mum' of FYEO

For Your Eyes only isn’t a particularly bad film, nor is it much good. It opens like a serious character piece and ends with a cheap political satire (Maggie Thatcher) – which sums it up really. The tone and story are all over the place. I honestly don’t really know if the actors knew whether they’d wind up as the good or bad guys! It wants the vibe of the original films, but it just doesn’t wash in the early 1980s.

Score: 5/10

The most annoying Bond girl/teen to date. Roger and her... you can't un-see it!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Beardy, boring, rich old guy – zero iconic parts. 2
Henchmen: Red-esque olympian, hard as nails. ‘The Dove’ man-brutal killer. 8
Bond Girl: Pool party girls, skater nymph (too young and annoying), rich countess roadkill (Total GILF / Brosnan’s first wife!!), Daughter (long hair, well tidy). 7
Action: Remote-chopper, poolside fight/Citroen car chase, Skiing / toboggan, gunfight at docks, cliffhanging. 7

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