Now I’ll start this review by letting you in on a little secret. I’m not the biggest James Bond fan.
Put down your pitchforks, I like the movies, really I do. But I’ve never loved them, in fact this is the first Bond movie I’ve seen since I began my proper reviewing back at the start of this year. And I fuckin loved it. This is easily the best Bond film I’ve ever seen, it is incredible in every sense of the word and it easily makes it into my top 5 of the year.
The story starts with Bond trying stop the robbery of an important hard drive, the mission goes wrong and Bond is presumed dead. A few weeks later someone hacks into M.I.6 and set off an explosion, killing 6 agents, when hearing of the bomb Bond returns to duty under the guidance of a stressed and secretive M.
I don’t want to reveal too much but the story is great, it reveals a great deal about M and about Bond’s past while steal keeping him the brilliantly mysterious character he’s always been. And the ending, the ending is perfect, seriously I had a huge smile on my face when the credits came up.
The acting is great all around, Ralph Fiennes plays Mallory, a government type that keeps you guessing who’s side he’s on until the very end, Naomi Harris is Eve, a fellow agent and Bond’s match in terms of toughness, wits and sexuality, slightly underused by I liked her. Javier Bardem is a great Bond villain as Silver, slightly eccentric, slightly mad but all terrifying, he was like a mix of the 60s cheesy villain’s and the modern day dark ones, more importantly his extremely high intelligence makes him more than a match for our hero.
But the two best roles are easily Craig and Dench. Craig’s bond is treated like an aging relic – well he is 50 – a man who’s best days are behind him but he refuses to let go. When he’s thought dead Bond lives a quiet life on the beach and it’s quite jarring to see the usually suave and sophisticated secret agent look all rugged and dishevelled. Like I said before we learn more about Bond’s past, not so much to remove his mystery but enough to make him more a character than other Bond’s beforehand.
Judi Dench has always been a great M and she does her best work here, pushed to the brink and with the risk of losing everything she keeps fighting for as long as she can, no matter what it costs her. She is the Head Bitch In Charge and makes sure everyone knows it.
Director Sam Mendes might seem like an odd choice but turns out he’s a great one, his work with drama make the slower, more talkative bits in this film fly-by while still keeping a few tense moments during them – the shot glass scene had me on edge – because of this I took a more vested interested in the story and found myself getting more and more engaged with the plot.
That’s not to say the film is action-free, for fuck sake this is Bond, the opening scene is a three-way chase scene with Bond chasing a thief on a train – note ON not IN – and Eve chasing both of them in her truck. We get a few good fight scenes but the best parts are the set pieces, they are incredible, from the tense chase scene through the London Underground and then overground afterwards ending up in Westminster to the climatic shootout and incredibly fiery conclusion in the Scottish highlands. They were all brilliantly shot and exciting to hell.
What struck me most about the film was hoe gorgeous it was, each location brought about it’s own unique beauty, London was grey, a boring but familiar colour, much like the city is to Bond, Macau had a yellow tint to the place, echoing Goldfinger in my opinion because everyone looked to be golden skinned, Scotland had the damp, dank yet beautiful countryside, the perfect place for a finale. And shanghai, God Shanghai was gorgeous, bright neon colours through the dark night sky, it was all stunning and incredible to look at.
Overall, this film is amazing, it really is the best Bond ever and you don’t even need to my word at it, brilliantly made, well acted and a great story. Highly recommended, Bond fan or not.