(Rated 4/5 )
A James Bond film carries a wealth of expectations for many people. I think it’s one of few franchises which brings people out to the cinema again, who may not have been in years. And this year being Bond’s 50th anniversary makes it an even bigger deal. Those who love the films also have a favourite Bond. Mine has always been Sean Connery BUT I have also been very impressed by Daniel Craig, who has given us a different and refreshing Bond – a more emotionally aware action man, arguably a fitter-looking action man (!), and a more sympathetic character with the insights into his past we have been given. We understand more why he became ‘cold’, or rather I’d like to say highly protective of his feelings. And this Bond is vulnerable. You believe he can crash out, make mistakes, hurt even die. For me it’s no longer set in stone that he is going to be okay, unscathed, in the arms of a beautiful Bond girl at the end of the film. Though I should say that Bond girls are no longer girls, but rather woman with more character and more respectable clothing ;) And of all of them, the best for me, Dame Judie Dench, ironically does share the traditional embrace with Bond towards the end of the film… on which I will say no more…
The acting is stellar! Daniel Craig is still extremely good, and I have to say, is now challenging Connery’s top spot for me. Judi Dench is totally utterly adorable – yes I absolutely unashamedly adore her! – and in the film so much more as M than we have come to expect – in fact the whole story centres around her and challenges M both personally and professionally, making the most use of her stunning talents in subtle and highly natural emoting. We get more insight into her relationship with Bond and her other secret agents. This outing Q is played by Ben Whishaw – turning the character into an absolutely gorgeously young nerdy techie version – gosh I’m sounding so luvvy this time! Ralph Fiennes joins them as Mallory – to whom M has to report and be accountable. Ralph looks very dapper and shines nicely. There is a beautiful new Bond girl in Naomie Harris who has to take a shot aimed near Bond… maybe killing him?! And Rory Kinnear as M’s right hand man. And then we have Javier Badem making one of the best Bond Villains ever for me, by being subtly psychopathic, with some verging on oedipal issues thrown in.
And this is a very good film. Sam Mendes superbly directs as we’d expect. And there are plenty of the traditional Bond touches of action and chases and impossible dare-evil feats, and humour… though less of the latter - and actually I’d say Daniel Craig doesn’t deliver it quite as well as Connery, Moore or even Brosnan - and more poignancy and feeling. This Bond makes you think and feel and so isn’t quite the full-on escapism we are used to from the classic Bond films. But we have the return of the Astin Martin and there’s Q’s gadgets… even though Bond doesn’t seem as pleased by them or him!
Are we quite so pleased? Well in all honesty, I think this Bond will appeal more to some and less to others. And that’s not me sitting on a very high fence over which I might tumble into a waterfall to my death if I decide one way or another!