Film Week: 007’s Endgame

Film

You feel treated by the whole enterprise.

October sees the start of the season for those interested in the arts (and if you’re not, what are you doing here?). BAFTA begins its screening schedule, art exhibitions and new plays all appear after the summer doldrums and apparently the opera season roughly corresponds to the football, so there’s something for everyone.

What Pete and I need is a night out at the pictures, I thought, ideally on a free ticket. What’s on at the local? How about the world premiere of the new James Bond? Chuck and Camilla will be there, and Wills and Kate, and Daniel Craig will be making his own clothes. We schlepped over to the Royal Albert Hall and managed to be late.

What’s the film like? Well, if you put all the Daniel Craig-era Bonds into a blender and turned it on you’d get ‘No Time To Die’ and the colour of Daniel’s jacket. It’s a greatest hits fan package, and its smartest move is to draw links with the entire 25-film canon. The callbacks come thick and fast, while the soundtrack manages to include references to Bonds before Craig’s time, so if we were really looking at continuity 007 would be about *taps calculator’ 120 years old. Or Roger Moore’s age in ‘Octopussy’.

As for the nods to new feminism, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s much-vaunted script input is not much in evidence – lip service only, but you always knew it was only going to be that. Miss Moneypenny might by 45 in reality but she’s gorgeous and slim and there are no older women in sight, while there are plenty of older males blathering on about nanobots.

The plot: Several seem to be going on at once so take your pick. Any one of them would have filled a whole film and none make much sense. There are plenty of nice globetrotting locations and not one but two supervillains toting several planetsworth of WMDs. There’s also a nice nod to the late set designer Ken Adam – mmm, sliding steel doors whooshing shut in concrete walls.

The whole thing is ersatz, a sidestep from reality where nothing anyone says or does is remotely real. Some dialogue proves literally unspeakable – one line runs something like, ‘We should be able to detonate it from Blofeld’s eyeball.’ Craig is unable to summon up a single witty remark, his Easter Island face never quite unclenching itself. Is he recalling a life ruined by service to his country or merely suffering from trapped wind? It’s hard to tell. No-one would deny Bond the closure he seeks for recent tragedy but only the hardest heart would fail to laugh.

And yet. Here’s the thing; there’s something so charmingly retro about the whole enterprise, like being allowed to stay up late and watch ‘Moonraker’ under your duvet (this was last week in my case) that it lulls you into falling for it. Then it bludgeons you into submission. As M wrings his hands and Q toys with lethal watches you know you’re in safe hands, I mean safe-ish considering Bond can’t walk past a building without it falling down. There are stunts which would once have provided the climactic sequence, now almost thrown away, emotional peaks that would fuel a dozen other movies (you could squeeze a rom-com out of Q’s date night alone) and one character, the delightful Paloma, who deserves her own spin-off movie. You feel treated, by the way in which old and new is combined, by the surprises (including one which will hurt if you’ve been with the series for a long time) and by the spitting out of set pieces like a box-firework that goes on a little too long (163 minutes) – but even that is OK because more of everything is still more. And you’ll love it because it’s everything you didn’t know you wanted.

 

11 comments on “Film Week: 007’s Endgame”

  1. Stu-I-Am says:

    @admin Had a chuckle over the Easter Island reference to Craig’s face. Comparing him to a stone statue is perhaps more apt than you intended, at least in my view. I’ve seen a smattering of the Bond films over the years, including three of Craig’s five and, whether it was his conscious interpretation or his well-known ambivalence toward the role, it always struck me that he would much rather have been standing out in a field somewhere than playing Bond. Where Brosnan and couple of the others exhibited a sort of  joie de vivre, there was always a world weariness to Craig’s portrayal and moreover, what seemed an almost a palpable discomfort in playing the part. Since the stunts and scenery were generally bracing, I was able to make do with the misery guts persona.

  2. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    Glad you enjoyed it.
    You have nearly convinced me that I might like it.

  3. Bob Low says:

    I’m encouraged by your “charmingly retro” comment. “Spectre” wasn’t my favourite of the Craig Bonds, but it had a terrific, coolly elegant look to it. To be honest, even if the critical reception to this film had been poor, I’d still see it. Even with the occasional sub-standard script, Daniel Craig was the best thing to happen to the Bond franchise, post-Connery.

  4. Stu-I-Am says:

    So the question on everyone’s (some, a few, hardly any…) mind is what happens next to the franchise. Does it continue as ‘Bond-centric’ or simply move on with ‘007 ?’ If the former, do the producers resort to the conceit of establishing ‘James Bond’ as a code name to introduce a new Bond or, does the new one simply show up and get on with it ? Then, of course, I suppose, there is always the possibility that the franchise is ‘ blown up’ and put back together with all new pieces ? If Bond is to be back, who shall it be now that Daniel Craig has legged it. When asked at the premiere if he had any advice for the would-be Bond, Craig offered up the helpful counsel ‘ Don’t be shit.’ Some names put forward In no special order) are:

    Tom Hardy Henry Cavill Idris Elba Rege-Jean Page (doing a reboot of ‘The Saint’)
    Lashana Lynch (‘007’ in ‘No Time to Die’) Cillian Murphy Sam Heughan
    Richard Madden Dev Patel Tom Hiddleston James Norton Luke Evans
    Jamie Bell John Boyega Dan Stevens Daniel Kaluuya Clive Standen Jonathan Bailey

  5. Joan says:

    Can hardly wait to see it Chris, doesn’t start here until next weekend, our Thanksgiving! Don’t really mind who the next Bond is, Idris Elba or Tom Hardy perhaps, as long as it isn’t a woman. Women can carry their own characters, think Captain Marvel or Wonder Woman, and don’t need to remake a male icon.

  6. Wayne+Mook says:

    Well my wife has told me I have to take her to see bond, so I guess will see it soon. As to the next Bond, I’ll just wait and see.

    Wayne.

  7. Helen+Martin says:

    Interesting. Spectre was on last night and Ken was watching while I was finishing up some other things. His comment was that he didn’t know whether he would last till 11pm because the movie was really slow and boring. I did see a bit – cars doing donuts in intersections like the trailer for this latest. My comment earlier was for the whole series. I have seen a few bits that I liked and all of them were in earlier films. I really left the building at Octopussy and haven’t paid much attention since.

  8. I had to stop watching Bond and other such spy films a good 10 years ago now. I don’t know if it was Bond or Bourne now, but I caught myself getting distracted by background people and finding their lives more interesting than the plot of the film. There was a woman with a shopping bag, or jar of cherries or some such, who was caught in a chase scene. She dropped what she was carrying when Bond jostled her on the way through and she started shouting at him. I started thinking about the impact that would have. Would she be able to afford to replace that food? What of it was for a special occassion, like a grandchild’s first communion party or something. That stall holder just lost everything as they crashed through, freeing his chickens, killing a few in the process. Who pays for the damage they do?

  9. Ian Luck says:

    My favourite saying that features the Moai of Easter Island, is a description of the face of extreme displeasure:
    ‘Like an Easter Island statue with an arseful of razorblades’.
    It’s not a million miles from:
    ‘A face like a rucksack full of broken bells’ (how I would describe myself, actually).

  10. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Ian Luck I prefer the classics:

    * Face like a bulldog chewing a wasp
    * Face like a slapped arse

  11. Ian Luck says:

    The canine variant, ‘Bulldog licking piss off a nettle’ is a favourite of mine.

Comments are closed.