During 2020 “James Bond” (Daniel Craig) encountered his most deadly adversary yet, Covid-19, but is finally back on the big screen following an eighteen month enforced hiatus.
After an extensive action packed opening sequence set in Norway and Italy, we join Bond living out idyllic retirement in Jamaica. Complete with beach side villa and casually expensive yacht, his government pension clearly index linked.
The love of Bond’s life “Madeline”(Léa Seydoux) remains an enigma, both what Bond desires yet bad for his health and welfare. When the necessity to help save the world one more time presents, persuaded by his life long friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), Bond is back.
All Bond films need villains and “Blofeld” (Christoph Waltz) briefly returns as the puppet-master, despite being confined to the most elaborate, albeit cinematic, prison ever devised.
Returning from the opening sequence is the man with half a mask “Lyutsifer Safin” (Rami Malek), hell bent on supplying Bond and the world with a very bad day. Finding decent villains against Craig is difficult, arguably only Javier Bardem (Skyfall) proving a worthy adversary.
Craig has always brought a “Bournesque”, harder edged aspect to the role. Not a man with all the answers but making do, usually in some style but never the unrealistic smooth operator of the Pierce Brosnan era.
Humour is present and correct, cue the amusing “Bond, James Bond” line and whilst gadgets make a come back, they merely complement the story. Even the casual “Bon Mot” when dispatching a villain is delivered in a quizzical fashion.
The Bond series has moved with the times, long considered a dinosaur in his attitude to women and out of place in the modern world, the producers have managed to update without losing the essence of the character.
Female characters now take front and centre stage, “Madeline” and a new 007 in the form of “Nomi” (Lashana Lynch) both impressive. “Paloma” (Ana de Armas) arguably the most adept MI6 Grad entrant ever. All characters get extensive screen-time and do not disappoint, proving the way to counter Bond’s previous casual misogyny is with strong female roles, whatever their height and age.
Some comments have referred to the film being a “greatest hits” package of previous films, maybe but 007 fans will buy that double album for sure.
The end sequence finalizes on a poignant and unexpected note and befits Craig’s solid, albeit variable turn as the worlds most famous spy, we will miss him for sure.
Whether and how Bond returns in whatever shape, form or gender remains to be seen but for now, we can enjoy the most iconic combination of visuals, theme music and action on the big screen.
Not quite hitting the high of Casino Royale but a fitting end to the Craig era, including all aspects one would expect from a modern Bond film, with added emotional depth.
This time out, Bond is saving not just the world but cinema itself, surely worth cheering on from your socially distanced cinema seat.