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Spectre Mask Mexico Festival Street Party Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen,

Spectre [Plot Spoilers]: a posthumous video from ‘old’ M sends 007 into the belly of the beast; going after the head of the global criminal super-organisation SPECTRE: Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

This starts with a beautifully choreographed long single-take; moving from the sky, down through crows, up an elevator, through some rooms, and over rooftops. The pre-credits mission ends with an overlong and confusing shaky-cam helicopter set piece; the Greengrass-style shaky-cam style of which spoils much of the subsequent action – which is defined by big, loud, turned-up-to eleventy-stupid explosions right, left, and centre.

Spectre Choppah Helicopter Mexico Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

After the initial setup, the film immediately starts throwing up a lot of overly familiar scenes; fortress on a snow-covered mountain top, Austrian forest chase, train fight with a brutish henchman, inviting Bond in to the secret lair before he escaped and blows the place up, scars, cats, exploding watches, Aston Martin gadgets, London chases… it feels like a rejected script for the 50th Anniversary film; that half-assedly tries to tie the last three movies together and leans on the aforementioned ‘classic Bond’ moments, ‘jumping the shark’, and even doing stuff that’s been parodied in Austin Powers – including drinking and advertising Heineken.

Spectre Meeting Broken Lights Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

Going back to the old mould of ‘classic Bond’ the film also contains a higher level of silliness than the rest of the post-Casino Royal reboot movies: from out of nowhere Blofeld and Bond grew up together? Even bringing back a campy evil genius like Blofeld (who was in a handful of the early Bond films) feels like a strange villain choice; especially following after Javier Bardem‘s demented Skyfall performance. The dodgy science of drilling in to precise parts of the brain that contain memories / facial recognition / balance also feels ridiculous.

Spectre Widow Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen,

While Craig continues his streak of gritty and remorseful Bond, pretty much everyone else feels under-used: Waltz is only in about 20 mins of the movie, and he doesn’t look remotely interested – I can only imagine it’s because he’ll be in the next few movies too? Monica Bellucci (not even a proper femme fatale) is in two back-to-back scenes, and Dave Bautista (silent but violent – OddJaws) gets a couple of frenetically shot action scenes and one word to say. Bond Girl Léa Seydoux starts off promising; but soon turns into the generic helpless love interest. in On the flipside M and Q get slightly more screen time and even a bit of action in the field.

Spectre Car Chase Astin Martin Jaguar Rome Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

Of course, not everything about the old movies are bad: there’s more tongue in cheek moments, a better script for quips, one-liners, and wordplay (“I guess we know what C stands for now… Careless“). There’s also more of a throwback vibe of escapism and glamour, which somewhat po faced Casino and Quantum films were missing – every shot looks like Bond and the Bond Girl are straight off a GQ cover. Although this goes a little too far with the cheesy ending, and the fact that there’s very little believable threat to Bond and his breakaway MI6 team.

Spectre Blofeld Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen,

Skyfall and its focus on Bond would always be a tough film to follow; and switching the focus to big names, big story, big locations, big explosions and bigger budget – Spectre doesn’t come close. Being one of the most expensive films ever made (but it’s not that obvious) this had to tick all of the constituent boxes of a ‘classic’ and safe Bond film. Although the surface is presented as the new Post-Bourne reboot Bond (nanotech, drones, cybersecurity) everything under the bonnet is straight outta the 1960s/1970s. Joe Public and those that grew up with the first 15 or so movies will love this because it’s a familiar romp, but I feel that more recent and more hardcore fans of the franchise will be let down by a fairly profunctory and borderline cynical by-the-numbers Bond outing.

Score: 5.5/10

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Information-hoarding new-age Blofeld. Like Elliot carver after a funectomy – 3
Henchman: Goatee’d Hinx; somewhere between Oddjob and Jaws – 4
Bond Girls: Two-scene widow; and slightly less ridiculous Christmas Jones – 6
Action: Mexican Helicopters / Rome Car Chase / Austrian Forest / Desert Shoot-em-up / London Bombing – 7

Spectre Ring Octopus Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

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Yet another film review site’s year in review… below are the films I watched in 2011 that are worthy of another mention.

The Best:
Real Steel – hands down, the most fun I had at the cinema all year.
The Guard – ultra blunt, black humor. Gleeson steals the show, but don’t forget about Don.
TrollHunter – captivating and humorous ‘found footage’ about Trolls, with a superb central character.
Your Highness – so good I’ve watched it twice. Swords and tits medieval questing film, with swearing.
Fast Five – despite being one of the worst scripts of the year it delivers the action, cars, babes and guns in abundance.
Black Swan – follows a high-pressure demented dancer. masterclass at both sides of the camera.
Hobo with a Shotgun  – nasty, bloody, schlocky horror in the vein of banned ‘classics’. Perfect homage.
Drive – moody and broody stylized tale of a stoic badass. Bursts of ultra-violence.
In Time – solid sci-fi concept with great execution and plenty ticking clock scenarios.

Stinkers:
The Dilemma – utter stinker of a ‘bromance’, less rom-com and more wrong-non-com…
Giallo – former master of horror gives us a masterclass in shit direction. Made in 2009, not released until 2011 because the star, Brody sued them!
Battle: Los Angeles – loud, blurry, messy, scrappy, shaky telling of an alien invasion. Nice SFX though.
The Eagle – Jamie Bell tramping around the woods for a few hours in a boring Scottish history class.
Faster – about as braindead as the central character. The Rock + Gun – Script – Action = steamy turd.
Bad Teacher – fell asleep, total stinker
A Lonely Place to Die – sloppy and nasty Scottish horror set in the bonnie hills and highlands.
The Tree of Life – WTF WTF WTF WTF, and some more WTF.

Best of the rest:
Infernal Affairs – the daddy of all Asian crime/mob pictures. Never gets old. Never gets boring.
Amores Perros – storytelling at it’s finest, no fancy tricks, just riveting drama.
James Bond January – all 22 spy films watched and reviewed in 1 month. Links to every article.
Black Mirror – prophetic, cutting UK TV Drama about life in the near-future.
The Good Wife – arguably the best show on TV at the moment. Stories, characters, production…
Timecrimes – pre-Triangle sci-fi thriller/horror. Original, clever, not spelled out.
Sleepers – fantastic example of drama and acting making sweet, sweet movie babies.
Alice Creed – Tight, tense drama with just three characters.
Jennifer’s Body – expectation-blasting teen-horror movie, surprisingly dark and funny.
Matador – Brosnan at his peak as the strangest hitman in cinema.

So that’s it. All 22 James Bond films watched and reviewed in under a month… Never thought I’d say it, but I think I’ve had enough of the world’s greatest spy for now! Thanks to everyone that chipped in, and a massive shout out to Darren at the M0vie Blog and Mikey at The Reviewer who both battled through every single film and were probably also up to stupid o’clock writing articles.

Not long after the event started Bond #23 was officially announced, and for that, I think everyone that took part should pat themselves on the back and take some of the credit – like I said here, it’s the best thing that could happen! Unfortunately, just as we wrapped up the month John Barry – the man behind 15 Bond Movie from Dr No to Quantum of Solace (!!!)- passed away, a massive loss for the franchise.

Below is a list of all the associated posts I could find, but if I’ve forgotten something, please comment and I’ll throw it in the mix too. Really pleased with how many articles got written up.

Finally, thanks to everyone that’s patiently read and commented on the longer-than-usual posts over the month, and to any readers that aren’t big 007 fans… I’m so, so sorry!

Cheers,
Paul

Dr No
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Cut The Crap Movie Reviews
Row Three
Klaus Ming
The Reviewer

From Russia With Love
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Undy a Hundy

Goldfinger
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Klaus Ming
The Reviewer
Go, See, Talk

Thunderball
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer
Undy A Hundy
Klaus Ming

You Only Live Twice
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Via 51
The Reviewer
Does Writing Excuse Watching?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer
Not Really Working
Undy a hundy

Diamonds Are Forever
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer

Live and Let Die
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer

Man with the Golden Gun
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer
Undy A Hundy

The Spy Who Loved Me
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer

Moonraker
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer
Undy a Hundy

For Your Eyes Only
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer

Octopussy
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
The Reviewer

A View to a Kill
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Undy A Hundy
The Reviewer

The Living Daylights
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Row Three
The Reviewer

Licence to Kill
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Undy A Hundy
Go, See, Talk
The Reviewer

Goldeneye
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Undy A Hundy
The Reviewer

Tomorrow Never Dies
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Undy A Hundy
The Reviewer

The World Is Not Enough
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog

The Reviewer

Die Another Day
Paragraph Film Reviews
M0vie Blog
The Reviewer

Casino Royale
Paragraph Film Reviews
M0vie Blog
Go, See, Talk
The Athletic Nerd
Battle Royale With Cheese
The Reviewer

Quantum of Solace
Paragraph Film Reviews
The M0vie Blog
Battle Royale With Cheese
The Reviewer

Bond 23:
Let Bond Be Bond – M0vie Blog
MGM Announce Bond 23 – The Reviewer
Bond is back on – Row Three

Misc Articles:
The Very British Mr Bond – M0vie Blog
Bond’s Where I’ve Forgotten What Happens – Ross V Ross
Who Is Bond? – M0vie Blog
James Bond 1967: Bits of Trivia – Java’s Journey
Which Actors would you like to see as a Bond villain – Flix Chatter
Shaken and Sexed – Undy A Hundy
Shaken and Sexed II – Undy A Hundy
Shaken and Sexed III – Undy A Hundy
Javier Bardem to be in Bond 23? – The People’s Movies
The Man Behind The Music – She Likes To Watch

Quantum Of Solace: we join Bond about ten minutes after Casino Royale, trying to bring his main lead – Mr White – to M for questioning. After the culprit is busted out of custody by double agents in MI6, 007 has to find out how deep the terrorist group Quantum has compromised their operations. Back to back viewings definitely aids QoS as it’s definitely not a stand-alone film.

... and here's the government worrying about texting and driving!

The movie expands and reinforces what we previously learned about 007. As before, he remains a violent (yet arguably successful) instrument, with no self constraint or controllability, and a tendency to leave a trail of destruction wherever he goes – killing off almost every potential lead. Sadly, because 007’s riding solo for much of the story, and his Russian pal is a lady of few words we don’t get much new information, other than an emphasis on his insatiable desire to avenge Vespa. Revenge hasn’t looked this good since Bittersweet Life – Bond looks very sharp; wearing stylish suits, jackets and the very best of London high-fashion!

Making sure hit kills go out with style!

The action set-pieces in this film are shockingly handed. The cuts are so short, editing so rapid, and camera movement so shaky that trying to establish what’s happening and where the people are in relation to each other – and their surroundings – is impossible. Definitely the most poorly constructed action of all the movies.

Someone's falling? Running? Rooftop? Behind the other guy? In front? WTF?!?!

The single biggest thing that Quantum of Solace has going for it is the story, carrying on from the previous film, it follows Bond’s quest for revenge, coupled with his Carmille’s similar story. These stories are tied in with the great, and scarily realistic, idea of a secret society – similar to SPECTRE but with more humble, profit-driven plans – that permeates every institution from the British secret service to the CIA and some rotten dictatorships in Latin America. Not content with slating the easy political targets, it also casts a cynical eye over the UK and US governments for the first time – with both countries stating that they’ll work with anyone that has oil, or any other desirable resources.

Corrupt businessman and corrupt politician... I miss the megalomaniacs

As with the past few movies this one harks back to some of the older adventures, although I’m not sure if these are smug and subtle self-referencial nods, or just a side-effect of the franchise having to recycle old ideas because after 22 films, there ain’t a whole lot left to work with. QoS has the classic suffocation scene from Goldfinger re-done with oil, two people one parachute and the good ol Citroen – among others.

Strawberry Fields - Bond's wondering if the carpet matches the curtains...

The lack of gadgets is also starting to get pretty uncool. I realise that the re-boot is firmly rooted in reality – and we definitely don’t need another battle suit or invisible car – but it doesn’t have to be this boring. The only remotely technological things are a normal phone and a few Minority Report style computers.

"Folks, how do we compensate for no gadgets? Ah, explosions"

Other reasons this film stands out: sandy credits (that stuff goes everywhere!), gunbarrel sequence appearing at the very end (insane!), and someone in photography having a hard-on for contemporary architecture with the Opera house, Bolivian Hotel and Desert Hotel given lots of attention. Most insulting, is the ridiculous collection of stereotypical fonts used to represent different countries. Serious London font. Stylish Italian font. Quirky Latin American fonts. ЯúSSIдN font! How dumb do they think new-age Bond fans are?!?!


As the follow up to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is just not handled near as well, and while it’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it would be somewhat unfortunate to end a 22-film legacy with this. It it’s well photographed, has a villain, some Bond girls, a henchman and a nasty plot, but they’re all just so boring.

Score: 6/10

Felix looking like a mean-ass mo-fo!!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: European, cool, short, hunched and limping, no talents. Booo! 3
Henchmen: Elvis – literally a secretary with a gun. Booo! 2
Babe: Sunburnt Russian girl. Ms Fields – a tasty toff. 7
Action: Car chase / Footchase / Boat chase / Aerial dogfight / Hotel fight at end (+ lift fight / bar escape). 5

With Bond 23 being kicked in to production James Bond January has done its job!

RELATED LINKS
The M0vie Blog
Battle Royale With Cheese
The Reviewer
Follow all the action here
Note: this was the very first ‘film review‘ I posted back in summer ’09!

Casino Royale: a novice spy, James Bond, seeks out the head of a global terrorist investment group, then tries to bankrupt him in a high-stakes game of poker in the world famous Casino Royale.

He may be the new Bond on the block, but boy can he pull off the Tux!

This installment bursts out the blocks with a B&W Noir film vibe of a 30s film, aspects of which continue to the end of the movie (jaunty camera angles, classic lighting, shadows etc). We join a rookie James Bond here, in the run-up to his second kill – a prerequisite for ’00’ status. There’s flashback to Bonds first kill in a toilet that shows us a sloppy agent, scrambling around in a rough fight, resorting to brutality killing his first target. No previous Bond would have done this, or even be capable of it. Make no mistake, this new Bond is a brute, a thug, firsts are his weapon, brains aren’t there.

Bond: clubbing some dude to death in a toilet...

As far as the casting of Craig is concerned, I think he was superb at showing us an unpolished, rough-and-tumble agent. Sure he’s strong, gets up after every punch and even seems to enjoy a bit of pain, but after one fight we see him genuinely hurt and confused, standing over a sink and scrubbing up like anyone else would (Although he does look like a million dollars in every next scene!). This new 007 isn’t really in to his post-dispatch quips, and the only funny moment comes in the middle of a torture scene where Bond goads the torturer by acting aroused – it’s genuinely laugh-out-loud, but totally bizarre. Still, we see Bonds wildly romantic streak when he and Vespa throw everything away. Top this all off with a chiseled body and as many gratuitious topless/skin-tight scenes as you can justify, and you’ve got yourself a new-age, emotional macho man that’s perfect for the 2000s.

New Bond: Open minded. He will suck your fingers for love!!

The line “I hear 00’s have a short life expectancy” is interesting because it means one of two things. A) this could be THE original James Bond, right back at the start of his adventures, or B) Every actor (and possibly film) before were all different agents using the 007 persona as a cover. Either way, this shit just got interesting!

WTF - James Bond, DOUBLE-O-7, drives a Ford? I feel sorry for him.

What’s more is that it’s not only the character and timeline that’s been re-booted… but someone’s meddled with the age old formula! It doesn’t open with the gun barrel sequence, there are no women in the titles (outrage!), there’s no gadgets (other than a sim card reader – zzzzz), he drives a reasonably priced car, has a normal phone, Felix has turned into a Brother, no Q, and no Monneypenny. Personally, some of it was refreshing, but they overdid the ‘next gen’ elements, shunning a lot of things that made the old Bond films… Bond films.

The 7th person to play Felix, and Leiter's got attitude here!

Yet there are still individual elements and themes lifted from the previous Bond legacy: the key characters have the same names, M is still Judy Dench, it’s as much a travel piece as any previous movie, he pumps numerous women, there’s some huge action set-pieces, we see a fat German with a gold car (!), and when 007 says “I Love You”, you’re still completely fucked. I feel that this film only carried on with the bare minimum required to pass this off as a genuine part of the franchise.

Why doesn't roadkill look like this in Scotland?!?!?

The action’s second to none and makes every previous fight, chase, and budget-blowing stunt look like amateur hour. The parkour/free running chase lasts around 10 minutes and never gets boring, the airport action is as tense as they get, hand-to-hand staircase fight is raw and superb, the car crash – although basic – is jaw dropping and Venice… that’s just off the hook. When the actual gambling begins, Casino Royale slows to a crawl, with very little tension for those that don’t gamble, however the film is literally revived, which also counts like action. There’s not a lot of the big scenes here, but they’re outstanding and well-placed to keep the film moving.

Cracking chase sequence

Other than being a Sony-sponsored assault on your retinas, 007 spending most of his time running between places (or after things), and Bond walking through Venice square – not in a shitty hover-gondola there aren’t any other aspects that stick out for being lame. Story wise, you couldn’t ask for a better one, and although it’s not dumbed down, it’s quite simple and straight-forward considering it involves the British secret service, British treasury, several one-man terrorist contractors, local police, a main villian, an african rebel army, the villain’s boss, a bunch of henchmen, and a couple of double-crosses…

Le Chiffre: couldn't have picked a meaner-looking Blodeldian bad guy!

Special kudos to director Martin Campbell saved the franchise once before with GoldenEye (ensuring Bond’s success post cold-war) and completely re-invented it with this installment – making him as crucial as any actor in the 007 seat. After the excess that most remember from Die Another Day it was the perfect time for a clean slate, and this is the perfect re-boot, shaking off the theatrics and putting the focus back on a tense spy thriller.

One of the many iconic images 'round a poker table in this film

It’s not a great ‘Bond film’ in the classical sense, in fact, you could barely even call it a ‘Bond’ film, however, this is the kick up the arse that the franchise needed to bring it in-line with modern attitudes & modern cinema, and in that sense, this is a brilliant 2000s action film, that happens to have James Bond at the centre.

Score: 8/10

Vesper showcasing her fantastic lungs!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Scar eyed man – maths genius, blood crying, gambling and weak. 5
Henchman: Wet airport guy – kind of henchman. Parkour guy – kind of. Bald guy – kind of. 2
Bond Girls: Horse-riding exotica HOT!. Vespa – HOT!!!!. Blonde Baddie… HOT. 9
Action: Footchase in building site & consulate / airport / staircase fight / revival / Venice – 7

It's usually medievil guys that ride on horseback, but I guess she'll have to do...

RELATED LINKS
M0vie Blog
Go See Talk
The Athletic Nerd
Battle Royale With Cheese
The Reviewer
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Looks. Sharp clothes. Style. Machine Gun. Sony Phone. Everything a spy needs...

 

The World is Not Enough: [Spoilers] when an oil tycoon is assassinated 007 is sent to protect the endangered daughter, a former hostage to one of the world’s most wanted men. After some success on the protecting front, Bond gets to the bottom of a scheme that will… erm… jack up the price of oil… (Note: villain aspirations were quite low in 1999, with Y2K getting all the attention)

Super mega cool submersible jet boat!!

Another Brosnan film, and another absolutely outstanding opening scene & mini-mission; Spanish bank robbery followed by MI6 bombing then the most ridiculously cool and insane boat chase ’round the Thames, over some streets (still on the boat!), wrapping up at the Millennium Dome.

Hot chick with a leather jacket and grenade launcher... <"blowing away" joke>

We sadly say goodbye to Q who, after the token gadget-based verbal jostle with Bond, Q says “always have an escape plan” and disappears before our eyes. While I may sound pathetic, this was hands down the most emotional and moving scene of the entire series for me (Sorry Mrs Bond). Not only is it’s laden with ‘he’s going to die soon’ overtones – he literally sinks into the ground – but it reminds you that Q has had the best relationship with every 007 for over 35 years and played a crucial part of Bond’s survival in at least 17 films. Q branch isn’t let down here, with some awesome gadgets like the X-ray specs, BMW, credit card lockpick, grapple watch and Q-boat!

One of 007's only friends (that didn't get killed)

Brosnan‘s still on a winning streak here, much aided by a whole lotta of shots of him pointing guns at people and looking angry and/or displeased. We also see Bond properly, and semi-convincingly, injured for the first time ever with a gammy shoulder for the film’s duration (although he did fall about 150 feet!). Most infuriatingly, Bond once again falls for the his one weakness, the oldest trick in the book, and the one thing that continually lands him in trouble… a vagina. If he carried out his job professionally he wouldn’t end up in so many perilous situations!!! (Although a procedural Bond movie would be pretty shit.) How many times has he been betrayed by a chick now!? Really?!

BOOM! Chestshot!!! Right in the tits!

The supporting cast and characters are such a mixed bag here. Robert Carlyle and Denise Richards seem to turn up and sleep through their scenes; sure they’re both vaguely memorable / strong / smart but they lack any presence. The character Bullion (Goldie) feels like his agent managed to sneak him in last minute, and no other henchmen do anything worth noting. On the upside Coltrane goes out in style as Bonds love-hate Russian contact, and Elektra King is played so, so well – Marceau’s beauty, strength and damaged background make her the perfect siren.

Another chick with a gun... someone in production must have a fetish

Other decent touches in this are the hypnotic oily credits, banking Pun-O-Rama, stereotype of ‘Bonnie Scotland’, “strictly plutonic”, “Christmas comes once a year” (Boom, Boom, Chiii!), classic nuke disarmament ultimatum, and Bond jumping from a normal house and landing in a submarine dock!!! There’s also a clear taste for new modes of transport: para-hover-sledge, mini super boat, pipe inspection pod, and the chopper chopper.

All aboard the tube! Next stop, nuclear warhead.

Even though you can’t fault the technical elements of most of the Bond pics, this one’s shot and framed particularly well. While it’s a good film, has a pretty interesting story and is well put together, this one feels like it’s missing some mojo and coherency. So many scenes feel gratuitous (let’s fly to somewhere snowy to have a ski-chase / let’s go to a casino so you can wear a tux…).  Despite some great twists and cool bits it just seems flatter and more lifeless than the previous few outings.

Score: 6/10

Bond's actual nemesis in this film... EXPLODING SNOW!?!WTF!!!!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Anarcho terrorist thug with a headache and no feelings. 6
Henchmen: Skinhead Russians x100 / Gold-toothed Bullion / DREADful Gabor. 3
Bond Girl: Assassin – Cruz-esque. Elektra – foxy siren. Denise Richards – Lara Croft entrance/ purple dress – smocking – 8
Action: Opening 10 mins, ski chase, nuclear bunker fight, caviar factory, submarine fight. 5

Goldie looking a bit rapey in the background...

RELATED LINKS
The M0vie Blog

The Reviewer
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Elektra looking a bit rapey in the foreground

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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