Monday, 5 November 2012

Triple Bill Mini/Cine Musings: Bond, Loves, Action...

What's it about?
23rd entry in the long-running spy action series arriving during the 50th anniversary of Bond on the silver screen. A hard-drive detailing the information of undercover operatives is stolen by the blonde-haired baddie Silva, who has a personal grudge to settle that goes straight to the heart of MI6. Naturally, it's up to Bond, James Bond, to get things sorted.
Who would I recognise in it?
Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw.
Casino Royale (Craig's first Bond) was superb and brought about a tougher, more hard-edged Bond (building on work first established by Timothy Dalton during his two-Bond-run in the 1980s) - it combined arse kicking with traditional Bond glamour and a great script. The follow-up Quantum of Solace was a bit iffy in some respects - the camerawork during action scenes was shaky-to-the-point-of-frustration and (as a result of the writer's strike at the time) the script was unbalanced, lacking in tension, and failed to really grab the viewer - that said, it wasn't a write-off by any stretch of the imagination. We'd come to expect something greater though with Casino Royale and now, delivered by Sam Mendes, Bond's 50th Anniversary is an enjoyable knock-about triumph.

Click "READ MORE" below for the verdict, plus two other flicks...
Like 1989's Licence To Kill, Skyfall dispatches the traditional mission structure in favour of a far more personal journey for Bond - indeed, things get more personal than we've ever seen before, bringing a heart-felt glimpse of the inner turmoils of this orphaned-child-turned-super-spy. Bardem's big bad Silva will go down as one of the great villains - he's commanding, creepy, and has a disturbing physical affliction, and what's more, his backstory is tied directly to the dark narrative thrust of the entire film. Skyfall is as much about assessing what's come before, as it is about new beginnings. There is 50 years of history on show here, but this is far from a greatest hits re-heat, instead it looks sternly into the future, albeit with time for a few crowd-pleasing nods and winks (the DB5, a new Q, some name drops, familiar music cues etc).

Craig's performance is all-at-once steely-eyed and vulnerable, and it never fails in a film that's got a surprisingly brisk pace for a flick clocking in at 143 minutes. Mark Kermode made intriguing allusions to Straw Dogs come the big show down, and after seeing it, that makes a lot of sense - we get plenty of bang for our buck, but rather than escalate the action to ludicrous size, Mendes wisely keeps things claustrophobic and personal. Glamour and brooding darkness are both rendered beautifully thanks to lensing duties being fulfilled by Roger Deakins - the gorgeous sights of Shanghai ultimately giving way to the rugged and cold Scottish countryside.

It's exactly everything you want a great Bond movie to be - and more - packing in as much retrospection as introspection. The pace is masterful, the performances strong, and the script is packed with plenty of moral drama, exoticism, and head-banging action. Great.

Crazy, Stupid, Love:
What's it about?
Romcom drama about a middle aged man whose wife of 25 years suddenly wants a divorce as she faces a mid-life crisis. Cast out into the single world, he has to find himself again and discover where it all went wrong with the help of a charming ladies man who has to decide between his free-wheeling lifestyle and a real relationship.
Who would I recognise in it?
Steve Carrel, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and more.
Light and breezy enough to be enjoyed of an afternoon, but with characters that ring true while also providing plenty of entertainment. It's unapologetically sentimental, but never over-cooks it. Thoroughly enjoyable, it even finds time for a couple of knob gags for a broader audience appeal. Good.

What's it about?
Some convoluted, half-explained bollocks that involves - surprise, surprise - a highly trained assassin going on-the-run after they're targeted by their own employer.
Who would I recognise in it?
Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan MacGregor, Michael Angarano, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum.
As previously mentioned, the script barely makes any sense, and for a flick that's a scant 89 minutes, it often drags. It's filled with big names and plenty of stylish presentation (it's a Steven Soderbergh movie after all), but when combined with a generic threadbare plot that is light on arresting action, and a needlessly chopped-up structure, it all becomes a decidedly "meh" affair. Carano does as well as any non-acting newcomer can be expected to do (she's a professional fighter), but her physical prowess gets little in the way of memorable screentime. There's some decent fights in there, but there's just something missing with this flick - a big something. Alright, circling dangerously close to shite.

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