I am not a major fan of James Bond. My Dad is the biggest fan I know but he has grown up with the movies! We are very different as father and son, he prefers the comic dryness of Englishman Roger Moore and I prefer the gritty realism of Welshman Timothy Dalton. In fact, there was a point at the turn of the century, when the last Bond movie I had seen was actually 1989 Licence To Kill. The Pierce Brosnan movies had passed me by for what would be my lost Bond decade. It was not until I was in college and my dearest friend Pav mentioned that the opening to The World Is Not Enough was the best opening to any (action) movie he had ever seen, did I re-consider the franchise. Perhaps Ian Fleming’s MI6 secret agent was worth another try.
The build up to this release was immense, even if you do not factor in the 50th anniversary of Dr. No. The third outing for Craig had been a major disappointment. Craig was never my choice to be in the role, I thought it was the ideal time for a black actor to be set into what is regarded as the quintessential British spy. However the producers, even in early 2004 felt this was too much of a risk to take. (Perhaps they will take the risk after Craig’s final two part finale piece over the next few years). Did people still want Bond? Casino Royale was good, Bond was portrayed with a modern day realism, sure he was cocky but not at all cheesy. He came across as hard work and I believe as a spy, this would be his overwhelming persona. On screen, Craig delivered, but the movie itself was very well put together with an excellent cast and most importantly great villain. I enjoyed the movie back in late November 2006, even if there were a bunch of uncontrollable schoolboys sitting in the row behind us at the Vue Oxford. There was enough going on to keep you involved and perhaps the only missing element was more Bond girls.
Nevertheless I was happy with the new direction the franchise was heading in and looking forward to the next instalment. What is it with Bond movies and the month of November? Are we never to get a release in the summer months? Oh yes, that is during the US blockbusters and the marketing team do not want to compete with the likes of Transformers 4 or Thor 2. I was actually out of the country in November 2008, for the release of sequel, Quantum of Solace. (Out of the country purely in the laterally rather than geographical sense, I was actually in North Wales). I went to the see movie at the Odeon with my best mate Dave. He had never seen a Bond movie at the pictures before so this was a new experience. I was disappointed for several reasons. The plot was non-existent, the villain was light weight to say the least and the whole objective was revenge. Revenge as a theme works in some movies but not with Bond. (For the record, I have not seen On Her Majesty’s Service). Another area where both movies were below the standard of their predecessors were the songs. It still is the utmost honour to be chosen to pen the theme tune to Bond. However, after poor song releases which did not even feature the title of the movie in their lyrics, it was time to get back to basics. On this point, beyond all others, Skyfall goes back to the oldschool. Adele was an inspired choice and her song added to the excitement of the movie. It is a shame, as I left the cinema this afternoon, how underwhelm I felt.
Sure it ticks many of the Bond boxes, action from the get go, sexy Bond girls and delightfully evil villain but the whole final third was a major disappointment. My expectations had been blown out of the stratosphere by friends, work colleagues and even some online commentators (plus Chris Evans and Vassos Alexandar on BBC Radio 2). I was expecting a major show down between Bond and Silva. It never materialised after over two hours of major meandering around each other, the build up to the final epic battle, never lives up to your heightened expectations. Similar to Mission Impossible III (just like Craig, Cruise’s third outing as Ethan Hunt) the bad guy is built up to such an extent but under utilised in the third act. Having said that, at least there is a final battle of sorts between Hunt and Davey. While keen not to reveal too much of the plot, all I can say is that Bond appears to be caught on the back foot throughout. The film borrows a great deal of plot devices from The Dark Knight, so it was a shame they could not have come up with a more original story but then this is Bond and as much as they try to go against type, why change a formula that has worked for fifty years.
My Dad’s friend went to the Royal Premere in London on Wednesday 23rd October – two days before the national release in the UK. Unfortunately my Dad was not able to attend as there was only one ticket but he did get his hands on the official souvenir programme. Impressive to say the least, shame the film for me, was a great deal of image over substance. A shame, but with a two part finale for Craig, hopefully this was just an extended two hour trailer to setup the personnel for films twenty four and twenty five!