This is a very odd film, which feels far too melodramatic and miserable to be a James Bond story. It's more reminiscent of a serialised romantic drama or tragedy than that of a spy thriller. There are contradicting styles in the script that leaves the viewer totally confused as to why certain events or decisions are made and no real depth to any of characters that make the story plausible or, well, worth emotionally investing in.
If you think back to one of the classic Bond films you'll remember a much more optimistic, simple and pleasurable experience. Every story was unique and the next adventure was a whole new mission. This suave and somewhat-blithe secret agent was solely invested in protecting national security and saving the world from unhinged megalomaniacs. Along the way there were interesting characters, exotic locations, beautiful women, stylish outfits, new gadgets and the most modern of cars (also fitted with the gadgets).
The five Craig-era films have spent 15 years moping about the same event which happened back in the first, without really moving on. His Bond seems more like a 'prima donna' that leaves, sulks and refuses to help more times than a French trade union. I refuse to believe than anyone with his psychological and unstable emotional profile would ever be drafted in as a 00 Agent. What is also forgotten is than Bond is a secret agent, not a frontline commando - aka John Rambo. He should be stealth, intelligence and subterfuge, with only action and violence where necessary.
Still, having actually enjoyed Skyfall (which subsequently seems like the odd one out in series) and having waited years since the last (thank you Covid-19), I accepted an invite to a pre-screening.
- The 'alternative' 007 was actually a good character. She was physically imposing enough to be believable as another 00 Agent and is a good actress. Nothing worse than being told that a size-0 model can boot a 'pro-wrestler' sized henchman across the room and forced to accept it.
- The filmography was impressive. Maybe the large screen helps amplify how good the camera-work quality really is. Some lovely shooting involved.
- Rami Malek's character made no sense and was effectively 'cardboard'. To have an Oscar-winning actor and effectively make him a dull two-dimensional side character is a total under use of talent.
- The plot and script writing. One of the things that is known about this film is how the script was rewritten mid/post production, and it shows. It's all over the place. What appears evident is how the first cut must have felt too gloomy in editing, so the producers brought in Waller-Bridge to lighten it up. Unfortunately, adding in random comedy lines or moments does not take away how miserable this film is.
- The odd logic and lack of people. The reshoots have clearly affected how scenes play out. For example, instead of controlling missions from a control centre (think Goldeneye), Ralph Fiennes (M) was just in his office with Rory Kinnear, seeming almost low budget. The final scene was just six people in an office with a drink - where on Earth is the rest of the intelligence service in this who film? Clearly 'social distancing' themselves from this mess.
- The romance. The chemistry between Bond and leading love interest is about as reactive as a nobel gas. Flat and painful. So, to have two films of the same thing is beyond the pale.
- The music. I can't even remember the theme tune, so not even worth my time commenting on. Clearly it was so bad that Hans Zimmer instead decided to base the soundtrack using 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' all the way. Why plagiarise a film from the 60s and use arguably one of the worse films in the franchise? Clearly, Louis Armstrong was not available to decline.
- Treatment of classic characters. It's clear that the producers want to draw a line under the franchise and start afresh - pandering to the 'woke mob' and hoping that future tokenistic nonsense will prove as successful as the original premise was. Spoiler: It won't and never will.
The producers are clearly inept at creating anything that remotely feels as good or as likeable as it once was. This is an institution and it deserves respect, not total destruction. Classic Bond films will continue to be on TV and still fondly remembered for years to come. I don't think this film will ever want to be watched again. That is what speaks the loudest.
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