dir: Lee Tamahori
[img_assist|nid=1048|title=Bang Bang, you sexy middle-aged man|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=320|height=450]
There. That feeling you had in your chest. Hadn't you noticed it before? Did you think it was just that you're getting really unfit and unhealthy? Or that maybe you had tuberculosis? No, that wasn't it.
That's it. Breath out. See, what happened was, you were waiting with bated breath for my next movie review.
And what will it be: a review of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, where I kept getting funny looks from the parents who'd brought their kids along, who were wondering what a 30 year old man was doing watching a kiddies film sans kiddies? Will it be a review from an advanced screening of The Two Towers, where 700 nerds were on the verge of premature ejaculation for nearly 3 hours?
No, it's a review of the 20th sequel to a very, very tired franchise which like its title suggests, will not die any time soon.
It doesn't take a genius or an audience member from the Jerry Springer show to grasp the attraction behind the Bond phenomena: International jet setting British superspy gets to save the world on a regular basis, kills people that piss him off, fucks every woman that crosses his path within minutes of meeting them,
plays with the most supercool gadgets, and gets to cheat death every ten minutes always with an awful pun at his disposal to mark the occasion. Best of all he doesn't have to ever see again eiither of the two obligatory woman he shags per film, as one of them generally turns evil necessitating the added bonus of
getting to kill one of them. Talk about a fear of commitment.
It's perfect, naturally. And the formula remains pretty solid to this day, unchanging and eternal. They will be making these films when you and I are long gone and decomposing beneath the cold, cold ground.
Of course, that doesn't guarantee that the films themselves are any good. You might have the classiest formula in cinematic history, but you're always going to find someone that's going to try to fuck it up.
Of the Brosnan Bond films this is probably on a par, in my humble estimation, with Goldeneye. Tomorrow Never Dies had the fatal flaw of being quite boring. The World Is Not Enough was for me an exercise in endurance, a test of my very being as I strove to find a single redeeming feature in its bloated length
whilst contemplating the removal of my eyeballs with an empty popcorn box. A messy endeavour to be sure.
I know we were never really meant to take them seriously; as films they perpetually skirted the edges of self-parody with their complete abandonment of logic or reality for the purpose of delivering a cartoon like action extravaganza with humour and sexual innuendo thrown in for good measure. And that's fine with me. But it's becoming increasingly obvious that despite the fact that they use different writers and different directors
with each film, no-one at least for the moment can do it properly, and that the character is looking more and more anachronistic with each outing.
Before we kinda believed that Bond survived every perilous encounter and killed everyone who opposed him because he was a) a bad motherfucker b) an extremely proficient secret service agent and c) a very lucky bastard. Women swooned in his presence because he was a suave, charming fucker, in the true sense of the
Now it feels like Bond survives every encounter simply because he has to, every woman sleeps with him despite their objections because that's what the script says, and the bad guy fails because they're the bad guy. I know that's the template of most action films, not just the Bond franchise, but it just comes across as a bunch of accountants going through the motions like teetotalers at an open bar Christmas work function. They're completely lazy, all of the people involved, and they are not earning the money this will rake in.
I'm sure it's just me, it's that I can't 'buy' it any more like I could buy the Connery and even the Moore Bond films. There's something especially blank about Brosnan in the role, the film's are all about him and his exploits but he perversely comes across to me as less of a protagonist and more as a prop. His delivery
of the vast majority of the clunkers that pass for wit now just falls utterly flat for me, but I should probably blame the writers and not Brosnan. I do like the guy but there are times that I think of him more as an absence rather than a presence.
But don't take my word for it, much of the audience I saw the film with, especially the valuable 18-30 female demographic laughed heartily at things that made me cringe.
Never mind. I feel that it is my sacred duty to mention, as a warning to potential viewers of this film that it is, in at least two extended sequences, an assault to the eyes and an affront to the ears. No, it's not due to violence or the volume of any explosions. If only.
No, the earbleeding rape of my ears occurred during the first few minutes of the film where my debt of bad karma from having lived a dissolute life came back to exact punishment in the form of a theme song 'sung' by Madonna. I have an extensive vocabulary, admittedly made up mostly of swearwords and insults, but even I lack the words to describe how dire that song truly is. It's the kind of horror which stays with you for years to
come. Over an hour into the film I was still thinking "jeez that was a fucking awful song."
Adding insult to injury and pouring sulphuric acid into my wounds, the hallowed hag of the pop charts makes what is certainly the least necessary cameo appearance in Bond history, looking very much worse for wear. All I can say is that either motherhood or drug addiction does not agree with Madonna, because she needs to be put in a crooked old folk's home. Her 'acting' is at the lofty level achieved in that little known gem Shanghai Surprise. Why, producers of Bond, why? Haven't we suffered enough? Didn't we show our loyalty to the Bond legacy by sitting through crap like the execrable last Roger Moore Bond film View to
a Kill, and the "let us never speak of them again" Dalton Bond films? Do you hate us so much that you even have to inflict Madonna onto us? You fucking sadists.
The serviceable plot is as inane as ever: North Korean psychopath wants to take over South Korea. For some reason preventing this requires the skills of James Bond. These skills include the ability to surf 15 metre swell off the coast of North Korea. Yeah, I can believe that. The man can operate every piece of machinery on
the planet, fly and drive every vehicle known to man and unhook the most daunting of bras with an arched eyebrow, so nothing should be beyond his staggering array of abilities.
His mission is essentially one of assassination, and he attempts to achieve this with a block of semtex large enough to blow up Marlon Brando. All it does is embed shards of diamond in the main henchman's face, who can afford to get radical genetic re-engineering later on but can't get someone to wipe the sparkles off his face. Not surprisingly, none of the Korean 'bad guys' are played by Koreans. I guess they're aren't any
Korean actors that are members of the union.
Bond is betrayed. He is locked up and tortured for 14 months. He is released in a prisoner exchange. He looks like a homeless guy. Shower and a shave afterwards, and you wouldn't know he'd been out of the picture at all. In fact, even he barely acknowledges it ever happened. So why should we?
Revenge is what he vows, and we know that revenge will take us through several 'exotic' locales and through the panties of various women until the villains get their just desserts and we all expire in exhausted heaps, tired but satisfied like one of his conquests, with energy enough at film's end only to light a cigar, drink some Bollinger champagne and find something to wipe the mess up with.
So along the way there do we get to enjoy the exotic locales and the beautiful women and the side-splitting hilarity and the top notch action? Well, kinda.
If you ignore how utterly inane the entire film is, which you have to if you're going to enjoy it even on an ironic level, maybe you'll be able to enjoy more than I did. This film represents a bewildering array of missed opportunities, I'm sorry to say. But hey, it's reasonably fun.
Cuba gets a look-in as one of the exotic locales, which makes a nice change. It's good to see that this tiny 'evil' empire off the cost of the US hasn't been swallowed up by the sea, as successive US governments have hoped since Castro took the reins. Of course they only show the bits that look like tourist resorts and not the bits that look like a third world slum.
Emilio Echevarria is in the film for a few minutes, an actor who was utterly brilliant in Amores Perros a few years ago, as the loony street assassin called El Chivo, but is completely wasted here. I'm sure he appreciated the pay, all the same. They use a Mexican guy to play a Cuban, and Chinese guys to play Koreans, I see a pattern forming here.
Halle Berry who somehow managed to convince the world that she had more to offer than her breasts and earned an Oscar in 2002, here plays a sex object called Jinx with breasts and a gun who has sex with Bond first. If she gets her own spy film franchise based on her performance here, as is being touted then there is
truly no justice in this world. She an attractive woman, she is a decent actress, but here she does sweet fuck all worthy of attention or memory. And all her dialogue is crap you wouldn't hear on Baywatch, where they at least have standards.
Rosamund Pike plays the second woman Bond fucks in the film, Miranda Frost. I know it sounds needlessly crude that I would typify her role in such a fashion, but you have to consider how crappy Bond's interactions with women are starting to look in these films. In the first few seconds of meeting Bond, his first words to her basically amount to "I hope I shall be fucking you very soon". These aren't the smooth moves of a charismatic lothario, it's the desperate behaviour of a sex addict with no ability to delay gratification, severe abandonment issues and a profound mid-life crisis looming over the horizon :)
There, I said it. Hell, we've all put it about at some time in our lives, some of us still do. But at least in the current climate if you fuck someone within a minute of meeting them, usually there is money, alcohol or drugs involved. It just looks a bit weird onscreen these days, even with Bond.
Still, Rosamund is supposed to play a cute little fellow British agent who acts all stand-offish at first but we know will inevitably come around to the magic that is the Bond cock. At film's end the Miranda Frost character appears out of nowhere wearing a boob tube. It's more confusing than the sexual politics of a Christina Aguilera film clip.
Toby Stevens plays one of the weakest Bond villains I can think of in recent memory. No menace, no oily charm, no staggering intellect or contempt for humanity. He's just an odd guy with ridiculous toys that would look unbelievable on Star Trek. A diamond encrusted satellite, for one. An electrified suit of armour, for two. Bad teeth, for three. A dead loss.
Rick Yune, as Zao, basically just swans around looking weird. He didn't do much, he wasn't particularly scary, and died without my really noticing or caring. I'm not sure if he was really there or if I imagined him based on the advertising for the film.
The stunts deserve a special mention, in that they are mostly poorly done, poorly edited and when encumbered with special effects, look disastrous. The standout is where, and this is going to seem inordinately dumb but I assure you it happened, Bond flees a satellite based laser beam in a jet car, the
jet car goes over the edge of a glacier, the laser beam cuts off the edge of the glacier which forces our hero to improvise a surf board and two parachutes in order to flee the ensuing cataclysm. It's all computer generated and it looks utterly, utterly shit. He then lands on an adjacent glacier miles and miles away from where he started. Minutes later he reappears where the chase began. It confuses even me.
I don't know, maybe I'm too old to appreciate the worth of these dubious films anymore. The jokes mostly don't make me laugh, and there are a tonne of other films that do the action better. I still keep hoping they'll get it right, and they keep letting me down.
The only good gag in the film occurs right at the start, where a guy appears to be working out on a punching bag. The bag is then unzipped, and a groaning man falls out. The man that was tenderising him quips "That will teach you to lecture me" before telling an underling "Get me another anger management counselor". Now that's funny shit. Shame about the other two hours.
The film is naught but sound and fury, signifying nothing, and what's worse is that it feels like an exercise in sleepwalking for all involved, which is surely a poor state for the Bond legacy to have arrived at.
In retrospect I think I'm judging the film harshly, because it was somewhat enjoyable at the time if you switched off all the thinking parts of your brain. I'm just not comfortable doing that completely. So you be the judge if you can stomach this tired franchise which has been looking like it needs a blanket over its knees, its slippers and a nice cup of tea before a lie-down for the longest time. I'm sure as shit tired of it.
4 middle aged men with comb-overs and the stink of desperation surrounding them out of 10
"That'll teach you to lecture me. Get me another anger
management therapist." - Die Another Day