Film Review – NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983)

Never Say Never Again (1983; UK/USA/West Germany; Technicolor; 134m) ∗∗∗  d. Irvin Kershner; w. Lorenzo Semple Jr.; ph. Douglas Slocombe; m. Michel Legrand.  Cast: Sean Connery, Barbara Carrera, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow, Kim Basinger, Edward Fox, Bernie Casey, Alec McCowen, Michael Medwin, Ronald Pickup, Pamela Salem, Rowan Atkinson, Valerie Leon, Milos Kirek, Anthony Sharp. A SPECTRE agent has stolen two American nuclear warheads, and James Bond must find their targets before they are detonated. Whilst it is good to see Connery return as 007, this production lacks the style and production values of the official series. There are moments of effective humour, but the action sequences are only adequately handled. Carrera and Brandauer are excellent as the SPECTRE agents, but forget Fox as M and Atkinson in an unfunny cameo. Remake of THUNDERBALL (1965). [PG]

Film Review – SKYFALL (2012)

Skyfall (2012; UK/USA; Colour; 143m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Sam Mendes; w. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan; ph. Roger Deakins; m. Thomas Newman.  Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Helen McCrory, Nicholas Woodeson, Bill Buckhurst, Elize du Toit.  James Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. Engrossing and emotive, this is one of the best of the series with Craig delivering his strongest performance to date as Bond and Dench having a much greater involvement as M. Whishaw debuts as a geeky young Q. Bardem stays the right side of caricature in a delicious turn as the villain of the piece. Thrilling, explosive finale at Bond’s ancestral home in the Scottish Highlands. Production credits are all top notch and Deakins’ cinematography is sumptuous. Oscar winner for Best Song (“Skyfall” by Adele and Paul Epworth) and Sound Editing (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers). Based on characters created by Ian Fleming. [12]

Film Review – QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)

Quantum of Solace (2008; UK/USA; Colour; 106m) ∗∗∗  d. Marc Forster; w. Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade; ph. Roberto Schaefer; m. David Arnold.  Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright, David Harbour, Jesper Christensen, Anatole Taubman, Rory Kinnear, Tim Pigott-Smith, Joaquín Cosio, Fernando Guillén Cuervo, Jesús Ochoa. Seeking revenge for the death of his love, secret agent James Bond sets out to stop an environmentalist from taking control of a country’s valuable resource. Disappointing follow-up to CASINO ROYALE suffers more from comparison to the film it follows than to the rest of the franchise. The exceptionally tough action sequences are too frenetically shot and edited thus rendering them breathless as well as incomprehensible, save for one excellent sequence shot at the opera during a performance of “Tosca.” The characters and the plot are given little room to breathe as a result of Forster’s seeming insistence in prioritising style over substance, but Craig does continue to impress as 007. [12]

Film Review – CASINO ROYALE (2006)

Casino Royale (2006; USA/UK/Germany/ Czech Republic; Colour; 144m) ∗∗∗∗∗ d. Martin Campbell; w. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis; ph. Phil Meheux; m. David Arnold.  Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, Isaach De Bankolé, Jesper Christensen, Ivana Milicevic, Tobias Menzies, Claudio Santamaria, Sebastien Foucan, Malcolm Sinclair. In his first mission, James Bond must stop Le Chiffre, a banker to the world’s terrorist organizations, from winning a high-stakes poker tournament at Casino Royale in Montenegro. Craig makes an excellent debut as 007 in arguably the best Bond movie. The action is fast and furious in the opening and closing sequences whilst the engrossing plot carries us through the centre of the film. All the elements are there but this is a tough, rugged entry in a series that has rebooted itself in some considerable style. Based on the novel by Ian Fleming. [12]

Film Review – DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002)

Die Another Day (2002; UK/USA; Colour; 133m) ∗∗  d. Lee Tamahori; w. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade; ph. David Tattersall; m. David Arnold.  Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Michael Madsen, Will Yun Lee, Kenneth Tsang, Emilio Echevarría, Mikhail Gorevoy, Lawrence Makoare, Colin Salmon, Samantha Bond, Madonna. James Bond is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul who is funding the development of an international space weapon. After a strong first half this overblown adventure descends into some of the worst excesses seen in a Bond film since MOONRAKER – not least the invisible car. Berry is the film’s main asset in a lively turn, but a weak and increasingly unbelievable premise along with some appalling CGI ultimately sink the film. [12]

Film Review – THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999)

World Is Not Enough, The (1999; UK/USA; Colour; 128m) ∗∗∗½  d. Michael Apted; w. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Bruce Feirstein; ph. Adrian Biddle; m. David Arnold.  Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, John Cleese, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Samantha Bond, Michael Kitchen, Colin Salmon, Goldie, David Calder, Serena Scott Thomas. James Bond uncovers a nuclear plot when he protects an oil heiress from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist who can’t feel pain. A return to form with this outing having more depth than most recent Bonds. There is a better balance between plot development and action sequences. Brosnan gives his best performance as 007 and Marceau is excellent as the vulnerable heiress, whilst Carlyle makes an edgy villain. Richards, however, may be the least believable nuclear scientist in screen history. [12]

Film Review – TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997; UK/USA; Colour; 119m) ∗∗∗  d. Roger Spottiswoode; w. Bruce Feirstein; ph. Robert Elswit; m. David Arnold.  Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Götz Otto, Joe Don Baker, Vincent Schiavelli, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, Colin Salmon, Geoffrey Palmer, Julian Fellowes. James Bond heads to stop a media mogul’s plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive global media coverage. Destruction and mayhem delivered through explosive action set-pieces take over at the expense of plot and a credible threat. Pryce hams it up as the chief villain and Brosnan already seems to be coasting on his charm as Bond. It’s all professionally packaged, but the heart seems to have gone out of the franchise. [12]

Film Review – GOLDENEYE (1995)

GoldenEye (1995; UK/USA; Rankcolor; 130m) ∗∗∗½  d. Martin Campbell; w. Jeffrey Caine, Bruce Feirstein; ph. Phil Meheux; m. Eric Serra.  Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Gottfried John, Alan Cumming, Tchéky Karyo, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, Michael Kitchen, Serena Gordon, Simon Kunz. James Bond teams up with the lone survivor of a destroyed Russian research centre to stop the hijacking of a nuclear space weapon by a fellow agent believed to be dead. The plot may misfire occasionally, but Brosnan’s debut outing as 007 is a big, bold adventure with the tried and trusted formula shaken but not stirred. Well directed and with some exceptional action set-pieces. Janssen is both sexy and psychotic, but Bean lacks charisma as the villain. Based on a story by Michael France. [12]

Film Review – LICENCE TO KILL (1989)

Licence to Kill (1989; UK/USA; Technicolor; 133m) ∗∗∗½  d. John Glen; w. Michael G. Wilson, Richard Maibaum; ph. Alec Mills; m. Michael Kamen.  Cast: Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, David Hedison, Wayne Newton, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Starke, Everett McGill, Desmond Llewelyn, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Robert Brown, Priscilla Barnes, Don Stroud, Caroline Bliss. James Bond leaves Her Majesty’s Secret Service to stop an evil drug lord and avenge his best friend, Felix Leiter. The toughest Bond since FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. This is an efficient action movie, but lacks some of the ingredients that made the very best Bond films stand out from the crowd. Dalton is again excellent as 007 and the plot has a more realistic base. Gladys Knight delivers the punchy theme song. [15]

Film Review – A VIEW TO A KILL (1985)

View to a Kill, A (1985; UK/USA; Metrocolor; 131m) ∗∗½  d. John Glen; w. Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson; ph. Alan Hume; m. John Barry.  Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip, Fiona Fullerton, Manning Redwood, Alison Doody, Willoughby Gray, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Walter Gotell, Geoffrey Keen. An investigation of a horse-racing scam leads 007 to a mad industrialist who plans to create a worldwide microchip monopoly by destroying California’s Silicon Valley. Moore’s last outing has an end-of-term feel about it. The plot recycles GOLDFINGER, but the creative energy that made that film so enjoyable is sadly missing here. All the boxes are ticked but without the enthusiasm or originality that made the earlier films so special. Based on the short story “From a View to a Kill” by Ian Fleming. [PG]