Special Executive for Counter-intelligence Terror, Revenge, and Extortion (Can't use an all-caps movie name in the subject line)
I'm doing this one in an imitation of Scott's style, just for kicks.
My wife showed me a clip of a little boy who was a guest on the "Ellen" show. I don't know exactly how old the kid was, I'd guess about eight or nine. The subject was that this kid, who's apparently got a terminal illness, was the "ultimate James Bond fan", who's seen all the movies and I guess read the books, too (otherwise, how could you call yourself a real fan?). Anyhow, for "reasons", Ellen gave this kid a cute bespoke tux and arranged for him to meet Daniel Craig, who hangs with the boy for a few minutes and gives him an Omega wristwatch like the one he wears in this movie.
While the whole thing is very cute, I can't help but wonder, especially after watching SPECTRE, WTF kind of parents let an eight year old, even one with a terminal illness, watch uncensored Bond movies?!?!?! And why would Ellen DeGeneres condone, nay, actively promote and support that??? I'm going to do the rest of my review in the voice of an eight-year-old.
So, the movie starts out with this sad guy singing really high like a lady, and then James Bond is naked with naked ladies rubbing fire on him, and then, and then, he, and then James Bond's in Mexico? And everybody is skeletons. Because it's Mexican Halloween? But they don't do trick-or-treat? And James Bond is a skeleton?, and, and, then he takes a lady skeleton to a hotel, and then they go into a hotel room, and then the lady gets on the bed and she looks like she's very tired, because she's all stretched out? But James Bond has to go back outside, and he takes a gun, and then the gun has a laser on it, so he can hear people talking from far away, and then, he shoots two guys, but the building explodes and is gonna fall on him, so he runs away. And then, and then, he chases a guy and the guy gets in a helicopter, and James Bond jumps in the helicopter and fights the man and the pilot while the helicopter is spinning around in the air above like a million skeleton people and it looks like it's going to crash, and, and then...James Bond, he throws the two guys out of the helicopter and they fall down and hit the ground really hard and I guess they die? And later, there's a big wrestling guy that puts his thumbs in another guy's eyes, and presses until the eyes explode into blood, and he keeps squeezing into the guy's brain and then to make sure he's dead, he snaps the guy's neck, and then that guy chases James Bond? And then a guy is drilling holes into James Bond's head with a robot drill? and then James Bond shoots a piece of pipe with his gun with one shot and blows up everything in the bad guy base? and then, and then....
I had to stop. It was starting to sound like a pitch meeting with Michael Bay.
Anyhow, yeah, worst Bond title theme music ever, and I'm counting Duran Duran in that list. Plot-wise, it's a re-hash of several Bond tropes, mostly the "he's off the reservation and not responding to orders, on his own agenda" thing. And as in the weakest of the Craig/Bond films, "Quantum of Solace", huge buildings and evil lairs are apparently all painted with tannerite and nitroglycerin, so that a single shot takes out an entire building.
Apart from that, this movie has some really excellent chase/battle set pieces that are fun eye candy, quite memorable. They take up so much screen time however, that character development and especially actual plot development are shortened a bit too much. I thought Man From UNCLE was actually a better movie than this, and if you missed that, it's worth a rental.
One of my other annoyances about this movie, is how a ridiculous amount of damage is done during a battle, and absolutely no story consequences ensue. Nobody raises a fuss, authorities don't arrive asking what's all this then, everybody around the event seems to get instant amnesia like the Men In Black have Neuralized them all... in several of the early films, once Bond crossed the local law enforcement, they became another running gag obstacle chasing Bond thru the plot, a consequence of choices and actions, and this ultimately makes for a richer story experience. In SPECTRE, there are no consequences for anything, and nothing is questioned. Q and Moneypenny are caught at one point lying and defying orders by the new guy in charge, repeatedly, and NOTHING happens to them at all. They aren't arrested, they aren't even fired.
This Bond movie was put together in such a way as to put closure on the cycle of Craig-led Bond pictures, while leaving room open at the ending for him to return again. But to what end, I don't know. You know the franchise will continue with or without Craig. So writing him into a corner in this movie only makes writing the next one harder.
I'd give this one a grade of "B": Not as good as Casino Royale or Skyfall, not as bad as Quantum of Solace.
I was originally kind of excited to see this movie, but then the lukewarm reviews started flowing in... I've been swamped since last Wednesday, and I knew I wouldn't have time to see it this weekend. I was planning on going tonight, but now I'm not really pumped enough to sit through a 10:30 screening of it. So, maybe I'll see it tomorrow? Or maybe I'll catch up on the week of TV I've neglected on my DVR tomorrow? So, maybe I'll Spectre it on Wednesday? Yeah. I'll aim for Wednesday. But at this point, I'm not sure if I shouldn't just wait until it's at a dollar theater when I have much less going on? Talk about reverse buzz.
But I enjoyed your 8-year-old review. Hey, I liked the Goldeneye video game for N64 when I was a kid. Though, I guess I was 12 or 13. I could see a kid liking the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies, but yeah, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed these dark Daniel Craig Bond movies when I was a kid. Especially Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.
Long and pointless ramble short; I'm tired and I'll probably get to Spectre sometime this week, then we'll compare notes.
MY THOUGHTS ARE IN:
-The opening sequence was pretty awesome. I didn't realize they were attempting a super long take until they were about a third of the way through it, but it was pretty sweet. I also liked the costumes and the Mexican setting, where I agree with Mark that buildings are made with some kind of cracker-like material and entire city blocks fall down from one bazooka blast. It was fun, and set up the premise of the entire move: James Bond is an a**hole who does whatever he wants.
-Here's a pretty great job to get in Hollywood: the location scout for James Bond movies. That person probably had an entire around-the-world vacation where he was just taking pictures of stuff and sending them to Sam Mendes with the email subject lines: "This desert looks cool for location - kinda crappy WIFI though", "Having fun skiing, RE: might work for movie too", "Rome is scenic & the spaghetti is good".
-But even though all of those cinematic scenic shots were great, they came with a cost... About a sixth of this 150 minute movie is just long panning shots of people walking in exotic locations. Probably could have brought this thing under two hours by cutting some of them down. ...But they're so pretty on the big screen!
-This movie is too long. And that one scene in the Tangiers hotel/condo/whatever was a big contributor to this movie being too freaking long. It killed any and all momentum the movie was building, and in my opinion, it was sort of boring. Not that I *need* constant action to make a James Bond movie interesting, but that scene in particular didn't really do it for me.
-Ralph Fiennes is pretty solid. I forgot he was even in this series. Actually, I watched Skyfall on HBO about a month ago, AND saw it in theaters when it came out, and I currently barely remember anything about it. The only one I can remember scene-for-scene is Casino Royale, because Casino Royale rules.
-Is Christoph Waltz a Bond villain in real life? I bet he sounds suspiciously evil when he orders entrees off an Applebee's menu.
-Wouldn't it be great if there was a Bond villain who just wore like a 1993 Buffalo Bills windbreaker and had messy hair, and operated his evil corporation in an abandoned Sports Authority building in Indiana? Well, there's always the next reboot... *closes eyes* *crosses fingers* JOSH GAD JOSH GAD JOSH GAD.
-Dave Bautista was a good henchman. They didn't over think it. He's just a big, indestructible guy with razor blades for thumbnails or something. I don't even know what the fingernail thing was about, or if he had them the entire time, or what? And I kind of don't really care enough to analyze it.
-I think the Bond girl in this one (played by Léa Seydoux) confessed her love for James Bond a *little* too early in their almost entirely dysfunctional relationship. I mean, maybe a "I think I'm starting to LIKE like you", or a "UR soooooo hott", or a "heart-gun-heart-pizza-heart" emoji chain via text would have been more than sufficient.
-Hoooo boy, I 100% agree with you Mark, that title song was terrible. And the music video credits thing accompanying it looked pretty slapped together. It filled up my octopus quota for the year, though, so that's good. HAIL HYDRA! I hope that my next Bond series dream villain (with the windbreaker) has an evil logo that is just a big circle with Shar Pei face on it. #scottfornextbondwriter
Final Thoughts: It's worthwhile, I guess. It was entertaining and had some cool scenes I'd like to watch again when it comes on TV eventually (like the opening sequence), but ultimately, do I expect to ever buy it or watch it from start to finish ever again? Nah, probably not. But it's a decent thing to sit through once. I think my final analysis of the Daniel Craig Bond series (unless there's more coming [note: there doesn't need to be]) is that I will probably watch Casino Royale whenever it comes on TV, but with the rest... I'll probably change the channel to Food Network or a Chappelle Show marathon or whatever is on.
I'd give it like a low-end B grade as well. It's a well-shot movie with guns and 'splosions and stuff. And I have enjoyed the general shift in tone for the most part for the Craig years (as opposed to the Brosnan years), but in the scheme of things, none of the three post-Casino Royale D-Craig Bond movies have really stood out from each other to me. It's like Casino Royale... ...theeeeeeeen the other three. But then again, I ain't no Bondologist with a fancy degree from Northern Bond State University or nuthin', so take my opinion with a grain of salt in your martini.
Spoilers ahead; you've been warned.
The Blofeld complex in the desert is a collection of telescope domes, protected inside the rim of a meteor crater. It looks sufficiently techno-badass to be an evil villain lair, but only superficially. There are no arrays of radio telescope dishes in this complex, of the kind you'd need for massive satellite bandwidth. One can hand-wave that they get all their massive global data feeds over fiber optic cables, but the obscure and remote location of the observatories argues against that. A base that taps into world-wide data feeds needs to be relatively near the main international cable trunks of that data, or to have at last an antenna farm nearby to get the data wirelessly. Or both. The worst moment of this movie, for me, was Bond taking one pistol shot at a gas regulator, and this somehow sends the entire astronomy complex up in a chain-explosion conflagration. That. just. wouldn't. happen. And you saw the same hyper-improbable thing happen to the big hotel in Quantum of Solace: the thing goes up faster than the Hindenburg, like it was made of sulphur matches, tannerite and dynamite. And Michael Bay's nocturnal fantasies.
You use one of several helicopters to escape the complex, and you just leave the other four there behind, without disabling them? Once airborne, you don't even care that you can see a small convoy of SUV's driving away? You think Bond wouldn't go after them? I think it's sloppy writing to just let the bad guy obviously get away, just because you need him to to move the plot. He should EARN an escape.
The whole thing about "smartblood" was stupid and went literally nowhere. It violates the "Chekhov's Gun" rule. I was expecting the smartblood to end up being dripped into or onto some computer machinery to infiltrate it with a virus, or at least to show that it can instantly clot in a designated wound area, or that it offers enhanced oxygenation to stay conscious underwater for longer, or... SOMETHING. It could have disabled the brain drill Blofeld was using, for example. Or mitigated it's damage. Which, of course, is conveniently forgotten about immediately. As a "tracking device", it is never even casually explained how smartblood would work at anything over line of sight distances. Without it's own power source or transmission ability, it would hardly better than sticking An RFID tag on Bond's clothes. Nor how putting something like that in an agent ruins their utility in the field. Your double-o agents need to be UNtrackable ghosts. It's kind of a job requirement.
The panopticon-styled office tower for the new intelligence service looks woefully insecure with all those windows, as well as being placed in the heart of London. You'd want an NSA-type complex in some obscure outer burb, well-camoflaged and well-defended behind bunker-like walls, or better, underground entirely.
I did kind of like the slow reveal of Blofeld in the scarred form we are used to. But it looks like he could be wasted as far as follow-on movies. They wrote it so he's alive and in custody, so there's the potential for a kick-ass escape breakout scene for the next movie, I guess.... but the Broccoli family is not known for being great with continuity.
I'd like the next bad guy lair to be very banal looking on the surface: just a standard office complex but with a dark underbelly. in a giant world-wide shipping company, like amazon and Walmart had an evil baby that birthed a gigantic warehouse. Bond would have a chase/battle scene set piece set in the warehouse with robotic pallet machines in constant motion around him, trying to run him over, squash him against a shelf, or drop a pallet of TV sets on him. The warehouse could be loaded with products about to be shipped world-wide, containing some evil weapons, bombs, bioterror agents, or drugs, or money, or etc.
Love the kid review! To me it felt like the "Artsy" bond film. For example, the action packed helicopter fight scene didn't have any music. They just played up sound effects. :-( Lots of long shots, like in Italy we see the beginning of the car chase scene but hold on a long panning shot of the city.
I'm glad I watched the film, but I don't think I'll ever watch it again. In Italy, the building with the secret meeting. Wasn't that the same building in the newest Mission Impossible film?
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Something really important to point out about this movie. In the theater, the lady sitting next to me had an Icee. When she got to the bottom of it she was sucking on it so loud I could hear her. It felt like she was sucking for over 10 minutes. Then she had to scrape the bottom for 5 minutes and then finally gave up on it. This happened when Bond was ringing the doorbell of the bad guys crater base and then getting a tour of the place. I'm amazed an Icee could last that long.
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Oh yeah, once you get an Icee down to the bottom, it becomes a pretty loud battle between the straw and the bottom of the cup. Lots of swirling, scraping, and slurping. That could have been a more aggressive torture technique for Christoph Waltz than his super needle chair.