Tag Archives: daniel craig

Spectre by Sam Mendes (2015) – the new James Bond movie

One more time Daniel Craig as 007. Again, Ralph Fiennes as M.
The Blond Bond begins to show grey hair, but one surprisingly strong character turns out to be Q (Ben Whishaw again), who suddenly appears in the field rather than solely remain in the HQ.
What I liked about Spectre – it nicely circles back to the original Casino Royale, to Quantum of Solace and to Skyfall – paying tribute to Craig’s previous Bond movies. It does more than that as – one attentive viewer may note – there are subtle nods to Casablanca, and previous James Bond films.
Amazingly shot, beautifully edited, with breathtaking racing scenes and charming Bond, as ever, with devilishly blue eyes and soft heart, as ever.
Great dialogues too, full of irony, double entendres and class. Slightly more is served on a silver plate, sligthly less is left for interpretation. Good one Mr. Mendes. I sincerely hope this is not the last time for Daniel Craig as Bond.

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Layer Cake by Matthew Vaughn (2004)

Daniel Craig is an unnamed character at his most magnetic best. He plays a drug dealer on his last job before ‘retirement’. How many times have we seen this in cinema. One last bank robbery, one last deal, and then the protagonist will live happily ever after. How often does the last job go right? And how often does it go wrong? Exactly.

In agreement with the gangster movie genre, nothing goes right and everything goes wrong. As this scheme is the mainstream of the British cinema (I will hesitate to call it indie given the astronomic budget of £3m), Layer Cake gets served exceptionally fresh as compared to other films of the era.

The cinematography by Ben Davis is worth a special mention. It is not only phenomenally well put together – it is also creatively different and therefore a true feast to the eyes.

It was thanks to this role that Craig got into the competition for the next James Bond. And how accurately so. This film could work quite well as the prequel to Casino Royale, as the intro to who Bond could have been before he started to work for MI6, before he got his licence to kill.

Watching this film almost a decade after it has been made, after having seen Craig’s Bond in three episodes, it looks as if James Bond was his destiny. It is an incredibly fun thing to watch Craig as a character who hates guns, who does his first kill, who learns the tricks of outwitting his opponents. In a way he becomes a perfect gangster, who is smart enough to quit when he has mastered all there is to acquire in the business.

Costume designer (Stephanie Collie) did a huge favour to Daniel Craig. He should be grateful.

Yet again this is one more of the few (very few) films I have seen that has a voiceover I do not oppose against. I specifically like the last line of Craig’s character (XXXX – as per final credits) uttering what will later become the cult “My name’s Bond, James Bond.” At the end of the film he says: “My name? If you knew that, you’d be as clever as me.”

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Skyfall by Sam Mendes (2012)

Skyfall

Skyfall

As Peter Bradshaw has neatly put it in his review of the newest James Bond film for The Guardian – this is the blond-on-blond Bond. Both the villain (amazingly portrayed by Javier Bardem) and the 007 are fair haired.

James Bond embodied one more time by the square shaped Daniel Craig is a tough guy with elements of self-irony, which has been one of the main traits of Craig’s great predecessors . I love the scene when he is being brought on a boat to the casino in Macau and his bow-tie is unevenly tied. I read this as means of reflecting his rebellious character – same as in Casino Royale where we saw the shaping of his personality with the help of Judi Dench’s “M.”.  Dame Judi Dench has been with the series for so long it will be a massive change to future films but we see her leave.

Craig’s Bond is not predominantly a gentleman. He is predominantly a tough guy with a gun who can tell an occasional joke. He is an intense agent licensed to kill with few remainders of humanity in him. This Bond is down-to-earth physical and much less intellectual (see the elevator scene in Shanghai), with tons of passion and sense of duty in him. In a way he has also become a robot (that can be explained by the cruel Vesper from Casino Royale) which is not only visible in the way he fights but also in his love moves. Disturbing, shaken not stirred.

Javier Bardem as Silva is a perfect villain this time perhaps more than ever an antagonist so close to Bond, to who he is, to who he might become any minute. The first scene where Silva appears is a magnetic demonstration of power which is not brutal at all and yet intensely hypnotic. Some of Bardem’s face expressions and body language bring to mind the late Heath Ledger’s energy from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The innuendos of that scene are bringing the audiences to tears of laughter.

The opening sequence is introduced quite late after the actual beginning of the film – so late that it actually comes as a surprise. But it works great and the opening titles tie in well with Adele’s co-written and performed song Skyfall we all heard on the radio so many times already. Bond is killed in action before the opening credits so for us Bond experienced viewers we know what we’re dealing with. Again he will come back to life and again he will embrace the evil side. His audience knows his tricks and this Bond film is a magic combination of old with the new. As his fellow agent says at one point Bond is an ‘old dog with new tricks’. And ‘old’ is the adjective permeated throughout the whole story multiple times. Because he feels old or is perceived by others as too old. It is true as others have pointed out – this is a film about Bond (and so was Casino Royale in my opinion). A very successful one at that.

I love how thanks to an unexpected twist we are taken back to the classic old Bonds with Miss Moneypenny heading M’s lair (i.e. office).

I love how London has no tourists, no cyclists in the streets and how nobody gets stuck in its normal daily traffic. London is made up to look more like in the good old days.

It’s a great story that looks good, feels good and does not fail the James Bond fan base.

Thank you Sam Mendes for this challenge that you have decided to take. Skyfall is funny, fast and phenomenally close to the classic Bond films in the spirit of Ian Fleming’s novels.

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Road to Perdition by Sam Mendes

In my own personal ‘Catching Up’ section.

There is no protagonist. Only the antagonists. Played by actors who normally only play the protagonists. Therefore you get an orchestra of stars playing against their emploi. These include Daniel Craig, Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law.

Set in 1930’s marked by prohibition in America. Hence the blooming mafia and family businesses.

The only crack is the happy ending.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by David Fincher

Mr Fincher, you are a genius.
Your version of the book adaptation is infinitely better than the Swedish one.

I am a fan of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy and have obviously watched all three Swedish episodes of the Millennium trilogy.

That you have selected Daniel Craig to be Mikael Blomkvist was one of the greatest ideas! That you have decided to create proper old school intro to the film, which in itself is a piece of art – a thrilling combination of Bond films intros with Matrix, that you have braved the length of 158minutes, that you have gone so bold – for all that, you deserve a big applause.

I cannot wait the next two parts. Good Luck!

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