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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

RELATED LINKS
The M0vie Blog
Undy A Hundy
Go, See, Talk
The Reviewer
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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...

RELATED LINKS
The M0vie Blog
Row Three
The Reviewer
Follow all the action here

 

As a kid, I was one of the millions that grew up watching the James Bond films in total amazement – over and over on VHS and on the TV every Christmas. In the UK, James Bond is arguably the single biggest institution – everyone from your young cousins to grandparents has watched most of the films and has an opinion on their favourite Bond, film, Bond Girl, villain, poster… Globally, Bond is nothing short of a phenomenon, proving himself to be one of the UK’s biggest exports.

First Bond collection, bought film by film

Starting in 1962 the Bond films are the longest-running franchise in cinema history, and hold the 2nd best all-time non-adjusted box office for a film series after Harry Potter (beating Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Star Trek…) To pinpoint the one thing that makes Bond so successful would be impossible, but I suspect that it has something to do with 007 having a dream job, dream girls, dream gadgets, dream cars all topped off with a dangerous lifestyle.

At the risk of ruining all of my fond childhood memories, I’m going to watch every single Bond with a critical eye over the next month to find out how Fleming and Broccoli managed to mould a single spy into one of the most cultural, global & timeless icons of all time. Everyone’s welcome to join in. There’s a schedule below this post and more info here and here.


From memory, Bond is a modern day cowboy who’s swapped his six-shooter for a PPK and horse for horse-power. He does little thinking, and lives for danger, jumping foot first into the action. He’s well dressed, and has exquisite tastes in everything from food & drink though to clothes and women. Most importantly for the movies, Bond has blind loyalty to his country and will do absolutely anything to progress the mission – naturally, this always gets him into perilous situations, which is the lifeblood of each movie. Despite spanning almost 50 years it seems like the Bond films have stuck to the same formula for

Hero + Villains + Babes + Danger + Action = Great cinema!

Over the course of January we’ll see how that formula holds up!

Cheers,

Paul
Paragraph Film Reviews

3rd Jan – Dr No
4th Jan – From Russia With Love
5th Jan – Goldfinger
6th Jan – Thunderball
7th Jan – You Only Live twice

10th Jan – On Her Majesties Secret Service
11th Jan – Diamonds Are Forever
12th Jan – Live and let Die
13th Jan – Man with the Golden Gun
14th Jan – The Spy Who Loved Me
15th Jan – Moonraker

17th Jan – For Your Eyes Only
18th Jan – Octopussy
19th Jan – A View To A Kill
20th Jan – The Living Daylights
21st Jan – Licence to Kill

24th Jan – GoldenEye
25th Jan – Tomorrow Never Dies
26th Jan – The World is Not Enough
27th Jan – Die Another Day
28th Jan – Casino Royale
29th Jan – Quantum of Solace

The Tourist: an American tourist has a bad case of mistaken identity when the police and Russian gangsters believe he’s a wanted criminal. Step back for a second and consider the following: biggest actress in Hollywood; biggest actor in Hollywood; Oscar-winning director; writer of Usual Suspects; re-make of an interesting French film; and Timothy Dalton! On paper this is cinematic gold, however, on celluloid, it’s so far off the mark. To call the casting of the mains ‘stale’ would be an insult to the word – Jolie plays a seductive siren (good English accent though!) and Depp is an eyebrow-wagging bumbling idiot. Both appear to turn up, force themselves through the motions, then laugh to the bank. What’s worse is that the stronger supporting cast all share a handful of short scenes. The slow-paced story uncomfortably meanders towards an unsurprising finale – that doesn’t make any sense in hindsight. Not unlike The American, this is more of a throwback to the classic thriller films (than their trailers would suggest), but where Clooney actually acts the part, a vacant Jolie just stares on as the lens slowly zooms in on high-fashion clad arse, legs and neck – a big indicator of how weak everything else about the film is. On the plus side it’s efficiently shot, classically lit and what you see of Venice looks nice. The final product is OK, and just watchable but if you want to see Jolie frolic with some Russians and a few plot twists, Salt was far better.

Score: 3.5/10

Quick follow-up from my last post about James Bond January – more details here. It’s still not too late to sign up; from today there’s over seven weeks – or 54 days – until the Quantum of Solace posts get published. That’s a Bond flick every 2 1/2 days, so still totally achievable if you wanted to do every film!

Content wise, the posts don’t have to be limited to reviews, they can be memories, features, lists, observations, pictures, critiques or even anti-Bond posts! Anything that will generate discussion on the franchise is cool by me.

A final clarification – you can do one film, all twenty-two films, or any number in between. Just be sure that they match the schedule in this post and are all tagged “James Bond January” so everyone can follow this.

Here’s a list of the current participants, I’ll keep this as up to date as I can.

Aiden (Cut The Crap Movie Reviews)
Darren M (The M0vie Blog)
Marc (Go See Talk)
Heather (Movie Mobsters)
Caz (Lets Go To The Movies)
Andrew (Andrew at the Cinema)
Andy – (Fandango Groovers)
Clara (Via-51)
Mikey (The Reviewer)
Nicola (Average Film Reviews)
Andrew (Row Three)
Clarabela (Just Chick Flicks)
Sledge (Battle Royale with Cheese)
Erik (Film Jabber)
Klaus (Ming)
Jason (The Athletic Nerd)
Sarah (She Likes to Watch)
Joem (Does Writing Excuse Watching?)
Stu – (Undy a Hundy)
The Peoples Movies Blog
Susannah -(Not Really Working)
Java – (Java’s Journey)
Steve – (Watching the Detectives)

If you fancy spreading the word by re-blogging / linking / e-mailing / tweeting some info on your blogs – or to individuals that may be interested in this – it would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Paul,
Paragraph Film Reviews.

Calling all film reviewers!!

Given that the Bond films are THE most successful, and one of the few universally-loved franchises in the history of cinema I thought it would only be fitting to to give the world’s greatest spy his own awesome feature.

The idea’s simple; everyone that wants to take part watches all – or any – of the Bond movies and posts up their reviews to the schedule (below) throughout the January, tagging them all “James Bond January” so we can all keep up with the event.


UPDATE POST HERE

Best case scenario: over the course of January the 22 clustered film reviews bring this project worldwide notoriety, re-emphasises why Bond is so great, the next movie is finally green-lighted and we all get a million blog hits!!!!Awesome!!!

Worst case scenario: a massive group of avid Bond fans all get to watch and discuss the villains, gadgets, cars and babes of every James Bond film – from Dr No through to Quantum of Solace!!StillAwesome!!

If you’re interested in participation, please comment or send an e-mail to the address below and I’ll put your name/blog link on list I’ll publish nearer the time. If you think you know anyone that would be interested, please, please, please forward this message to them. And feel free to re-post, hot-link, podcast or tweet this post.

It doesn’t matter if you want to do one, two or every single film; the more people that muck in, the better!

Cheers,

Paul
Paragraph Film Reviews
paragraphfilmreviews@hotmail.com


James Bond January – Schedule

3rd Jan – Dr No
4th Jan – From Russia With Love
5th Jan – Goldfinger
6th Jan – Thunderball
7th Jan – You Only Live twice

10th Jan – On Her Majesties Secret Service
11th Jan – Diamonds Are Forever
12th Jan – Live and let Die
13th Jan – Man with the Golden Gun
14th Jan – The Spy Who Loved Me
15th Jan – Moonraker

17th Jan – For Your Eyes Only
18th Jan – Octopussy
19th Jan – A View To A Kill
20th Jan – The Living Daylights
21st Jan – Licence to Kill

24th Jan – GoldenEye
25th Jan – Tomorrow Never Dies
26th Jan – The World is Not Enough
27th Jan – Die Another Day
28th Jan – Casino Royale
29th Jan – Quantum of Solace

UDATE POST HERE

Toy Story 3: (3D) Follows the usual suspects on another adventure as their beloved owner Andy grows up and heads for college. Because main cast were developed so well in the first two films TS3 is more about the storyline, which isn’t anything new as we’ve seen the whole “adventures in the big wide world” (done better) twice before. It’s also unexpectedly far, far darker than the first two, with 100% more doom & death scenes – and characters, like the unsettling Big Baby. Although dark themes are brought up the universal ones like rejection, growing up, friendship, loss, old vs new etc are all still present and keep the film’s appeal very broad. Where TS3 stands out is that it really tugs on the ol’ heartstrings; I cried happy tears at Buzz’s change and Mr Tortilla head, yet was close to sad tears several times. Newman’s score is terribly safe, but the way it manipulates your feelings is nothing short of amazing. Although it’s easy to take for granted in Pixar films you can’t overlook the broad array of such well-drawn characters (in both sense) backed with superb voice-acting performances – Mr Pricklepants, voiced by Timothy Dalton, was the standout for me – but everyone is great. The 3D element was outstanding – unlike most films that have a flat background and several objects ‘popping out’ TS3-3D shows full-natural depth to give the impression that you are really watching the action.  When Toy Story debuted (in 1995!) as the first full-length CGI movie nobody could have predicted that it would have such an enormous influence on cinema & animation, and kick off one of the best trilogies ever – say what you want, but the Toy Story series stands up to everything else out there. It’s a great way to cap off the tale of a bunch of random plastic toys that have captured the imaginations of children and adults alike.

Score: 8/10

Note: The token Pixar short ‘Day & Night’ was rubbish!