|This one's a keeper.|
Directed by Sam Mendes
Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli
Written by Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan (screenplay); Ian Fleming (characters)
Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, and Judi Dench
When we last saw James Bond (Craig), he was dealing with the loss of Vesper Lynd, whilst tracking down her killer and taking down Quantum. Now, he's back fighting for Queen and country against a cyber terrorist named Silva (Bardem). Armed with a slowly-leaking list of NATO agents, the villain has targeted M (Dench), determined to take her down for her past sins. Bond is faced with the possibility of losing his boss and everything they stand for. If Silva isn't stopped, MI6 as they know it will be gone, and agents everywhere will be compromised. What should be a walk in the park is anything but, as Bond has lost some of his speed and efficiency. Bond must face these challenges while he tries to put the pieces together, and stop Silva before it's too late.
The recipe for the 23rd Bond film is simple: take some of the old and combine it with the new. And does it ever work. It's tough to describe the tone of the film, because it's partly done in the vein of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, while also incorporating classic elements of the franchise. (I won't say more, for those who haven't seen it.) As much gritty as it is slick, this is a Bond to rank with the best of them. The narrative of a Bond film has never been so on point. While the film is noticeably lengthy, it's absolutely necessary, and the payoff is worth it. Craig continues to embody the iconic MI6 agent, bringing the dramatic chops with the wit and recklessness to the character. Bardem is a fine villain, chilling and unpredictable in a slightly underused role. Dench is solid as usual, and the rest of the cast is also on their game. Of course, the action is thrilling, Roger Deakins' lensing inspired, and the other technical elements are great across the board. Still, the story succeeds over everything else. Bond is back in one of the best 007 films yet, and, for that matter, one of the year's best films, period.
Oscar Potential: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing
Note: This is my 200th post, but I'm happy to celebrate it by reviewing a film I loved.