Before being forced to choose I might’ve assumed I’d have picked everyone and their cat’s fave Bond film, CR. It was the bull in the china shop that the franchise desperately needed, with the best female lead by a long way (imo).
But with a little more Consideration, although a major plot beat being a lazily contrived, and hackneyed devise (Siva meant to get captured… really! So how did he know Bond had a radio transmitter?), aside from that it’s pretty perfect…
And apart from the truly horrible ‘resurrection’ line, the dialogue is absolute class, peppered with nuance and wit only dreamt of in a Bond movie in such quantity prior to this.
It’s very, very close, but SF Just about surpasses the sublime joy of CR.
Oh, and there’s Deakins! That’s as good a trump card as having Walken as a villain.
The fact Silva made fun of “those fools in Q-Branch” just minutes before.
It’s the same as;
“Still press here do I?”
Bond, in any timeline, really struggles with, once you find out the bad guy is ex-Mi6, maybe it’s time not to rely on government equipment the the bad guy just needs a functioning long term memory to beat.
Fair enough, Silva could indeed have suspected as much. But coulda, woulda, shoulda isn’t great script writing. Too much feels a bit tenuous in order to contrive the Dark Knight switcheroo.
The problem is that so much of SF is great script writing. And in just about all other respects SF is a nuanced, class act - a virtual masterpiece. So when something isn’t quite as polished as the rest it really sticks out. Such as the empty crashing train carriage. Done no doubt to maintain a lower certificate as well as maintain the family movie pigeon hole. And with some lateral thought it’s plausible. But the odd image of an empty tube does take you out of the action a little.
The occasional tonal shift into self parody is my main bugbear. When Bond leaps onto the tube train the old couple standing in for the drunk throwing away his booze makes for very uneven tone in this otherwise nuanced thriller. As does the lack of faith in the audience to get the obvious inference when Bond reveals the eject button to M in the AM. Having M underline the gag with dialogue reeks of execs worrying that the audience won’t get it.
It’s odd that they expect the audience to grasp that Silva knew about the transmitter and why the tube might be empty, but not be smart enough to get the obvious ejector seat gag without it being explicit in dialogue. It leads me to suspect that rewrites have left a few things underworked, while overworking others.
Absolutely! I can live with contrivances if it means having this scene, which includes the truly shocking reveal of his disfigurement. When something’s almost perfect those imperfections cut that much deeper.
In the head to head matchup between CR and SF there’s the deaths of Vesper and M to consider.
Both characters are significant and shape Bond’s character. Vesper is my favourite lead female in the series, but Dench had the weight of six Bond films behind her at that point. Watching her death play out in the chapel felt like a big deal, and I think it helped make SF a better and more meaningful film in the same way Tracy’s death footnotes OHMSS.
I love Venice, but prefer the final set piece at the lodge because the way it reverses the usual ‘Bond attacks the villain’s lair’ trope. Scotland makes for great visuals, and if we’re going to embrace Bond’s heart and soul as a plot device, we may as well embrace it fully.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE is a flawed entry. Some of it is very weirdly edited; some of it is cheesily written and underdeveloped. And in spite of its shortness it feels long in parts to me.
CASINO ROYALE has the better villain, has Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen, has the stairwell fight and the visibly shaken Bond cleaning up afterwards. And the pretty fabulous torture scene that is at once hilarious and horrible and would any non-franchise film raise above its contenders in unpredictability.
SKYFALL is an ingenious play at the series’ favourite discipline of self-cannibalism, digesting previous entries and books and improving on both.
SPECTRE finally isn’t a bad film at all - it’s just not a really good film either. But you can see there’s a decent entry struggling to get out of it.
So why did I vote for QUANTUM OF SOLACE? Maybe because it’s daring to do something different, no DB5, the love interest already dead, the finale small and intimate, Bond in an ordinary flat that’s not designed like an Architectural Digest add. It doesn’t fit with its predecessor and its successor either, it’s the unloved stepchild, the runt of the litter. That’s why it’s still, in spite of everything, my favourite so far.
CASINO ROYALE – Great stunts (the parkour chase is arguably the best chase–foot or vehicle–in the entire series), great Bond girl (Eva Green IS Vesper Lynd), great story faithfully adapted and expanded on, a great torture scene that went in a completely unpredictable way, and the best debut performance for any James Bond.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE – Awful shaky cam, awful editing, a terrible henchman in Elvis that defies description, and the horrendous treatment of Mathis’ body which Bond would never do. I’ve never hated anything in a Bond movie except for the aforementioned stuff in QOS. They all take away from the solid stunt work (the Bond-Mitchell aerial fight for one), acting, musical score, and story potential that QOS had. Somehow it is not my least favorite Bond movie, but it’s also my hardest to like.
SKYFALL – I’m not on the Skyfall bandwagon that many are. It’s got a lot of good points–Roger Deakins’ cinematography is a star and the best of the series, the Patrice fights are great, Berenice Marlohe’s Severine is terrific, Naomie Harris’ Eve Moneypenny is highly entertaining, and Sam Mendes moves things along well. But something is just missing for me and the one thing I can point to is that Daniel Craig’s Bond still doesn’t feel like Bond–at least in the respect that he is enjoying being Bond. You got the feeling he likes being 007 in Casino Royale but not in Quantum Of Solace although due to story reasons that was understandable, but not here. For all their goodness, Bond and Skyfall just don’t seem to be having fun–not like the old days anyway, and that is a major obstacle for me.
SPECTRE – THIS is like the old days Bond to me. 007 seems to be enjoying himself for the first time since Casino Royale. Hinx is great; it’s really nice to see the return of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE; the PTS, as always, is entertaining; and Monica Bellucci is absolutely beautiful and sexy. On the downside is the rather drab cinematography which sticks out like a sore thumb especially following on from Deakins’ stellar work on Skyfall, the disappointing unoriginal score by a returning Thomas Newman, the awful falsetto of Sam Smith in his Writing’s On The Wall which ruins an otherwise solid song, and the absolutely idiotic and horrible decision to make Bond and Blofeld “foster brothers”. The less one dwells on that garbage the better. Still I find SPECTRE enjoyable and hope No Time To Die carries on from that, which, from the trailer, seems it will do.
So for me, it’s no contest: Casino Royale all the way.
Royale: admirably meat and potatoes, but too often feels like Campbell did only one take of every scene. Feels muted and frequently cheap. Awful costuming for Craig and Arnold’s score is rock bottom noise. “Miami” Airport maybe the worst extended set piece in the whole franchise.
Quantum: the only outright unlikeable movie in the series. A cluttered, offensive, complete unenjoyable dog’s dinner. An absolute waste of a movie.
Skyfall: feels more like a Bond movie than anything since probably Living Daylights. Made with confidence, respect for general audiences, and a decent grasp of Bond’s world. Thomas Newman finally adds some sonic texture to the post-Barry series. Craig’s classic.
Spectre: more or less competent filmmaking, but full of baffling decisions that really should have been fixed before shooting started. Wouldn’t be half as hated if it weren’t one of only two Bond movies released in the last 12 yearsand counting.
No Time To Die has been an agonising fiasco to watch unfold. See you all back here in 2024 when it gets dumped to some streaming service.
The utterly bizarre finish when Bond gets arrested in dead silence. Nobody yelling, nobody panicked, just an unnaturally calm arrest of what they assume to be a terrorist who tried to blow up a plane just a few years after 9/11. It’s like Campbell filmed a rehearsal and just left it in the movie.