Film A Week Podcast Episode 9: “From Russia With Love” (Bond Special)

“The man the British will almost certainly use on a mission of this sort would be their agent, James Bond.”

In this episode, hosts Serg Beret and Patrick Raissi head to Istanbul (not Constantinople) in a mission to stop SPECTRE from getting a decoder with James Bond (Sean Connery) in “From Russia With Love.” Listen as they discuss the romantic tension between Bond and Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), the epic toe-to-toe between Bond and Red Grant (Robert Shaw) and possibly the most anti-climatic ending of any Bond film. Plus, the boys discuss their faithful audience of only 5 people along with Sean Connery impressions galore.

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007 in 23: Assignment #24- Spectre (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

So we meet again…

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After three years since the last edition of 007 in 23, the world’s most popular secret agent and walking oxymoron, James Bond (Daniel Craig), is back for another assignment. Also, I’m not changing the name of the series to 007 in 24 because of this film, so consider the series an artifact title. Anyway, Bond is about to face off against SPECTRE again after years of not being part of the franchise. Wait, what the heck? That can’t be possible. Wasn’t there legal trouble because of Kevin McClory over SPECTRE?

For those new to this series, producer Kevin McClory got into legal troubles over the rights to the villains of SPECTRE and Ernst Starvo Blofeld. The reason being is because those elements appeared in the film Thunderball, which McClory helped developed for the novels. Legal disputes soon followed and McClory got the rights to Thunderball in 1963. Luckily, Eon struck a ten-year deal to have use of SPECTRE and Blofeld as the big bad for ten years. This explains why starting with Roger Moore SPECTRE is but a mention and Blofeld a throwaway joke in For Your Eyes Only. McClory would remake the novel Thunderball in 1983 as Never Say Never Again with the return of Sean Connery as Bond the same year Octopusssy was released. Spoilers: Both films are not very good.

In 2006, Kevin McClory passed away leading to Bond fans to wonder if the rights would return to Eon and MGM to get use of SPECTRE and Blofeld. That dream was realized in 2013 when Eon Production reached a deal with the McClory estate and Danjaq, LLC. Now SPECTRE and Blofeld are back in their hands, abliet SPECTRE is now Spectre. The announcement blew Bond fans minds, including mine. The minute I saw the octopus bullet hole on the teaser poster, I was hooked.

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Now we have this film to showcase Spectre back at taking down the world with Craig and the rest of the newly established MI6 crew. Can MGM pull it off after years without the iconic villains that torture Connery’s Bond in the Sixties? Let’s not waste any time and get to it. Oh, and be wary as this review is riddled with spoilers.

James Bond is in Mexico City during the Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Day) Festival hunting down a man named Marco Scallia. He causes a bit of a ruckus and by ruckus I mean killing a trio of men involved with an explosion at a hotel and engaging in a fist fight in a helicopter over the Centro above the festivities. Bond heads back to London and gets a scolding from M aka Mallory (Ralph Finnes) about his little mishap. Bond shows off a ring he recovered revealing an octopus logo on it. Though suspicious, Mallory suspends Bond from further action. Mallory and Bond are greeted by a new character named C (Andrew “Holy Shit, Moriarty!” Scott). He is trying to convince the MI6 to join the “Nine Eyes” global surveillance in order to have the ’00’ program be done away with. Think “Tomorrow Never Dies,” but this time it actually makes sense. M tells Bond not to keep being rouge, but Bond being Bond continues on the chase.

While visited by Moneypenny (Naomi Harris), Bond tells her that M had one last mission for him before he died to find Scallia. He does not inform Mallory due to the circumstances at hand. He also asks Moneypenny to see if she can find a lead on “The Pale King,” a name he heard in Mexico City. Bond meets with Q (Ben Wishaw) on what the new gadgets he has with the main attraction being the Aston Martin DB10, which Bond promptly jacks the next day. Bond travels to Rome to meet up with Scallia’s wife Lucia (Monica Belluci) to find more information. Bond gets the info he wants on the new organization known as Spectre and also manages to make love to her on the day of her husband’s funeral. I honestly don’t know why he had to do that, but I am sure the randomness of love making hasn’t ended just yet. Bond heads to a secret meeting Spectre is holding in the city. While the group discusses their plans involving their economic process, one in particular crosses the ominous Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) and is meet with an immediate death by Oberhauser’s henchman Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista aka Batista). Mr. Hinx grabs his heads and forces his thumbs in his eyes with his steel nails. It’s pretty damn quick and brutal.

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Franz Oberhauser (Waltz) sits in the shadows, despite knowing how he looks already

Oberhauser begins to speak and recognizes Bond in the audience and says his name. Bond escapes by kicking ass and jetting in the Aston Martin DB10, only to be chased by Mr. Hinx in his Jaguar C-X75. Bond messes with the would be gadgets and only some work to his advantage. In a thrilling chase, the Aston Martin finally decides to cut bond some slack as Bond flips a switch, sending flames to Mr. Hinx’s car. Bond escapes via a parachute ejector seat with the Aston Martin falling into the river. It is during this that Moneypenny tells Bond the lead he was looking for with “The Pale King” leads to Mr. White (Jesper Christ and Quantum. Quantum turns out to be a smaller part of Spectre’s bigger organization. Bond heads off to Austri to find White and his whereabouts, but informs Moneypenny to find out about Oberhauser and his whereabouts. Apparently, Bond knows he has been dead for years…or has he? (If you haven’t figured out the obvious twist at this point, then be prepare for a timid response when it happens).

Upon meeting Mr. White, White tells Bond he has been poison by thallium for some run-ins gone bad with Oberhauser. He tells Bond that he is done with Quantum and Spectre and tells him to track down his daughter Dr. Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux). Swan will lead Bond to L’American which will lead to Spectre and a confrontation to Oberhauser. White decides to end his life in front of Bond and Bond goes about his merry way. Bond goes to Swann, who is beginning her analysis of Bond’s character when Bond tells her that he kills people, her dad is dead and only she can lead him to Spectre. Swann says she wants him out of her office for hi very poor bedside manner. Bond at the health bar outside of her office is met by Q, who has forensically linked Le Chiffe, Roaul Silva, and Dominic Greene as agents of Spectre through Scallia’s ring. He either had really good blood or he never washed his hands. Honestly, I don’t know how this work, but I just went with it.

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It's kind of like Waterworld at Universal, but with snow

Swann is taken away by some of Oberhauser’s men lead by Mr. Hinx and Bond chases them down in a plane. It’s a fast-paced action scene with a hell of a plane crash towards the end. Swann and Bond escape with Swann still refusing to take up Bond’s offer. She eventually gives in because the plot needs to go somewhere. They head of to Tangier where L’American turns out to be a a hotel room. Here is where Bond and Swann find a secret room used to track down the location of the Spectre headquarters. The two have an drunken intimate beforehand to give some background of Swan’s upbringing.

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The Gorgeous Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) makes a lasting impression

From here, the two head off on a train to the Spectre base in the desert with Bond decked out in his From Russia With Love dinner jacket and attire with Swan coming out with the essence and beauty of Titiana Romanova of the same film. As they are about to drink and dine, Mr. Hinx unleashes his inner animal and goes full Red Grant on Bond. Hinx is giving it to him throughout the train by tossing him in walls, hitting him on kitchen counters and not stopping. See, this is how you book a Batista match, Vince. Unfortunately, for me at least, Mr. Hinx is taken out by the end after he slaps Swann down to the ground and Bond takes him out by tossing him out the train tied to a box. Hinx utters his only line of “Shit” and is killed. Swan and Bond, of course, decide to Bond closer. So, if you are keeping track at home, Bond has made love to two women, both of which have lost someone they loved. What a classy guy, this Bond character is.

As they end up in the desert (see Diamonds Are Forever, License to Kill and Quantum of Solace for influences in this scene), they head to the Spectre headquarters in which Oberhauser has “been expecting you.” Here it is discovered that Spectre has been in cahoots with the Joint Intelligence System to set up the Nine Eyes program due to the terrorist attack. C has been working with Spectre as well so Spectre can keep track of the entire world. Oberhauser uses his connection with C as an opportunity to make sure to stop any investigation into their plans. Moriarty is a bastard who cannot be trusted, I swear. Oberhauser grabs Bond and Swan, a duo of names that unfortunately not the name of a craft beer yet, and tortures Bond.

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Former WWE Champion Dave Bautista ditches the squared circle for the silver screen as Mr. Hinx

Bond is being tortured as Oberhauser discusses how he is still alive besides being proclaimed dead. Oberhauser tells James that his father adopted him as a son to be his new gaurdian. Fed up with this, Oberhauser killed his own father and faked his death. After doing this, he went through a change. Cue the white cat hopping to Bond’s lap and the reveal that Oberhauser is in fact Ernst Starvo Blofeld. Wait, so Blofeld has been involved since the beginning screwing MI6 and Bond over because of daddy issues. That’s a bit…well, I will get into that in the review portion. Bond and Swann do their best to fight off the henches and mooks, escape, and blow the headquarters to kingdom come and go off with Blofeld having to die in the process. Roll credits.

Wait, there’s a whole half hour left? Oh, hell.

Bond and Swann must arrest C for his connections as they inform Moneypenny, Q and Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear in a oddly minimal presence this time around) on the hunt. Bond is captured by as Swann is as well, leaving the other three to launch into badass mode. They inform Mallory of C’s bullshit and Q ensures that Nine Eyes does not interfere with MI6’s own computer systems. C gets his ass handed to him by Mallory and falls to his death from Richenbach Falls aka M’s office. But what of Bond?

Bond is stuck in a maze set up by Oberhauser in the old headquarters of MI6 by Blofeld, now disfigured with the signature scar and blind eye and gives Bond the choice of saving himself from the explosion or saving Swann from being exploded into a million pie es. Bond has to Bond again and saves himself and her and escape into a boat on the Thames as Blofeld watches from above in a helicopter. Bond shoots it down, leaving Blofeld to crash on the Westminster bridge and nearly crippled. Bond is ready to kill Blofeld, but settles on M having to arrest him because this franchise needs to continue with Blofeld trying to take over the world every step of the way. Adoptive brothers even have dick measuring contests every now and then. The next day or so, Bond rides off into the sunset with his beloved DB5 and Swann by his side. Cue credits and we are done with the picture.

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Spectre is a strange effort in the franchise, but an enjoyable one. It’s not the best Bond movie, but it is far from being the worst as some critics. The direction by returning Skyfall director is still on par with his prior effort as is the cinematography. It’s a gorgeous film to watch and the opening sequence proves that to a tee.

The action is well thought out and paced in a way that the audience feels in the moment. The chase in Austria is filled with thrills and chills as Bond tries to get his plane onto the tight riads. The train fight is a more elaborate throwback to Grant vs. Bond in the 60’s that is on par with the classic bout.

The performances are good with the exception of one newcomer. Seydoux is fantastic as Swann as she plays the charming and brilliance of her in grand fashion. Bautista is fine as Mr. Hinx with a menancing present and commanding skills. Like his previous role in Guardians of the Galaxy, his work in the squared circle made the action with him seems believable. Monica Bellucci is great, but wasted in a small role. Waltz plays Blofeld as if he already knew he had the role within him. It’s manic, sincere and chilling at points. It’s reminiscent of Telly Savalas’ performance in that way.

Andrew Scott is completely one-note. He is basically playing Moriarty again, but without the charisma and menace. It’s boring and he is wasted in the time. In fact, that is a problem in this film. Characters with great presence are utterly wasted in this film and are only their as convenient plot devices. This leads to other problems with the film.

The story itself is a bit rough as they had to tie Spectre not only to the last movie, but the entire reboot in general. It’s feels shoehorned in and not natural. Same could be said for the humor and old ways of Bond appearing in the film. These moments make the movie seem cheap and awkward. During the car chase scene, there is a joke with a guy in his car listening to opera, then being run into to go faster in order to be parked in the right spot. That joke is best saved for the cheese of the Roger Moore era, not the dark grit of the Craig era.

The twist on Blofeld is utterly dull and disappointing. Having Blofeld do what he is doing because of some issues with not being loved by his father and hating his adopted brother does not make him sympathetic, but rather childish and selfishly idiotic. Blofeld is cold, careless and wants the world to be done for. If the twist was changed to revenge because Bond killed his father, then that would have made the twist a tad more tolerable.

The theme by Sam Smith is very iffy. On its own, the song is not his best effort and the theme itself seems more sullen and not close to what is expected in a Bond film. Luckily, it works with the intro title cards and that’s what maaters. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. It’s the most mediocre of the bunch.

In the end, Specte is a enjoyable effort of the modern era of Bond, but still stuck in the shadow of the past. The use of old elements is hit and miss at times and can easily deter die hard fans, but the performances and action help the film stand on its own. Spectre is a small step backwards, but has enough good to keep the series going forward.

Assignment Status: 3 out of 5

Serg Beret will return in The Franchise Runner with Back to the Future

Film A Week 44/007 in 23: Lost Assignment #013.5-Never Say Never Again (1983)

One year ago this week, this site ended the 007 in 23 series with Skyfall covering all 23 EON produced Bond films in celebration of 50 years of the film franchise. Yet, another Bond film still lurk behind the EON produced films. Back when optioning the film writes of the character, producer Kevin McClory met with author Ian Fleming in order to create a story that would fit perfectly on the big screen. Plans fell out of the ordeal and Fleming took the idea and turned it into Thunderball. When the franchise finally hit the big screen, Thunderball was turned into a feature and began a lawsuit by McClory to get the rights to Thunderball back resulting in vicious feuds and bad blood to be spilled. Fleming passed during this whole ordeal and McClory got what he wanted: the right to make his own vision of Bond and possibly his franchise. McClory was a bit of an ass throughout all of this, but got to realize his dream in producing his retelling of Thunderball and bringing back the Bond everyone wanted. Sean Connery returned after saying ‘never again’ to playing the Bond role and with the film titled to take claim of that comment. In 1983, the Battle of the Bonds began with Roger Moore’s take on the EON produced Octopussy, which I personally disliked, and McClory’s produced Never Say Never Again.

As always, we need a Bond song to begin.

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The first and so far only non-EON produced Bond film (1967’s Casino Royale is not counted for since that is merely parody) is not great, but not terrible. It is quite mediocre, but still retains some fun expected in a Bond feature. Directed by Irvin Kirshner, who is best known for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, stepped up to the plate to tackle a new vision of an aging Bond trying to stop SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) from once again taking nuclear warheads in order to hold the world ransom by Ernst Starvo Blofeld, played by Max Von Sydow this time around.

Pretty much, it’s Thunderball all over again and if you are one of the fans who did not like Thunderball, this film will not change your opinion about that movie and that’s a good thing. Rather than be the bore Thunderball was, Never Say Never Again goes whole hog and delivers a much better version of the tale that is fresh.

It has all the characters you remember, abliet with minor changes.Domino, played by Kim Basinger, is now a dancer and lover of Emilo Largo, now named Maximilian Largo, played by Klaus Maria Branduer. Felix Leiter, played by Bernie Casey, is now an black man rather than the percieved White Anglo Saxon we have come to expect and is a nice change of pace from just another average white guy. In fact, this predates Jefferey Wright’s portrayal of Felix Leiter in Casino Royale in 2006. M, played by Edward Fox, is a much angrier British man, Q, played by Alec McCowan, is a cranky old guy who says ‘bloody’ a lot and Moneypenny, played by Pamela Salem is, well, Moneypenny.

The action in the film is as great when compared to Thunderball with Kirshner’s tight direction in tact and building set pieces that are stellar, including the opening sequence that shows Connery is back to take names for good, even if it just a test run. The oddest sequence though is Bond going against Largo in a game called Domination against Largo. It’s like if the film suddenly turned into The Wizard and it’s kind of awesome to say the least.

This film even features Connery going toe to toe with famed British stuntman Pat Roach, most famous for getting his ass handed to him in all three Indiana Jones films (excluding the forth one because he passed away beforehand). This scene is probably the most memorable for showing the natural talent both actors had in their fighting style and added some moments of humor, including the fact that James Bond’s piss packs quite the punch.

The acting is decent with Connery as the highlight, back in full form never missing a step, still smooth as ever and can pull off a terrible one liner with ease. Basinger is a neat Bond girl, yet a tad forgettable and Von Sydow’s Blofled is not as great as the way it was handled by Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service or Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice, but still a hell of a lot better than Charles Grey in the terrible Diamonds Are Forever.

The theme song is cheesy and generic, but judging by the other Bond theme that year, that is what was in that year. The score is quite generic as well and not a memorable as John Barry’s famous Bond scores that are full of jazz infused sounds and bombastic nature. Heck, we still had another two years till we got another fantastic Bond theme song.

Also, any excuse to play Duran Duran’s ‘A View to a Kill’ during a review is fine by me.

The major downfall of this film is exactly what the first paragraph states: it’s Thunderball again and many knows what is going to happen already. Heck, it even ends in an underwater fight. Never Say Never Again is not the best of the Bond features as a whole, but it is worth a watch if you are into the franchise as a whole.

And being this the anniversary of the series that was the prequel to Film A Week, time to give it the classic rating from then.

Assignment Status: 3 out of 5

Next week on Film A Week will be a different type of review. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father documents the life of Andrew Bagby and his murder at the hands of his wife. Then, out of the bleak nature of the murder, a son named Zachary was born. This true crime documentary takes a look at the flaws of the judicial system, the mental state of a convicted murderer and the wonderful people taken away. This is going to be a difficult one to write.

Film A Week 45: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)
A Special Film A Week Devoted to the Lives & Deaths of Andrew & Zachary Bagby
Saturday, November 16th

007 in 23: SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT- Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT- Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012)

Isn’t always funny how you can find more for the series you have done long after it is finished? This is one of those cases as I seemed to have missed this along the way. No surprise since I was only doing the official 23 EON films, but I feel that Everything or Nothing is worth a look for any Bond fans, cinephiles, or new fans.

This documentary talks about the creation of Bond and the struggle to bring him on screen and the aftermath dealing with all the Bond actors and how the character could live on. It is interesting that it manages to detail all this information in under two hours showing Ian Fleming’s involvement to bring Bond to the screen to see his creation come to life. Fleming seems to always think of Bond as a cinematic character and worked to achieve that dream. As a newcomer to the franchise, I was enthralled to learn the in and outs and to see the work Cubby Broccoli and his colleague Harry Saltzman did to keep production going and even naming their production coming EON as an acronym for Everything or Nothing, a motto Broccoli and Saltzman lived by to risk James Bond being the franchise giant it is.

The interviews with the countless Bond actors and crew is a delight as well from George Lazenby talking about his utter foolishness when making On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to Pierce Brosnan ripping on his own set of films that aren’t GoldenEye (Quote about Die Another Day: “Kite surfing? The bloody hell, we are kite surfing!” *laughs hysterically*). The documentary also shows the behind the scens of Kevin McClory’s lawsuit over the rights to Thunderball making him the Big Bad of the feature as he went of his way to ruin the Bond franchise since the incident. Luckily, EON stopped him from doing so, but long after McClory remade Thunderball in the form of Never Say Never Again with Connery back as Bond. On an interesting note, Sean Connery doesn’t appear as he is retired so they rely on archival clips and interviews to show his views on the series and his longtime battle against Harry Saltzman. The oddest part of this documentary is the random interview with Former President Bill Clinton for insight on the series stating James Bond is a man every president wants to be (and judging by Clinton’s career, he was pretty damn close at being just that). One other thing I enjoyed about it is using the footage of James Bond features to show how Fleming and the behind the scenes worked making all our favorite villains seem to represent the executives.

I really didn’t want to give much away about what this documentary details since I want those reading this to go watch for themselves. Everything or Nothing provides everything you need to know about the franchise and nothing gets overlooked due to focusing on its subject matter quite well with insights of the good and the bad. I strongly recommend this one to rent and, if you have Netflix, it is streaming right now for your pleasure.

Top of the Crop: Bond Edition! Counting Down the Best of Bond

With 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond done with, time to celebrate the Bond franchise with some top ten lists for you all. Time to celebrate the best gadgets, the best Bond girls, the best themes, villains, and of course, the best Bond films. Let’s not waste anymore time, time for Top of the Crop: Bond Edition.

Best Q Branch Gadgets

10. Dentonite, toothpaste plastic explosive (Licence to Kill)- Spreads like butter in order to get the tight spaces to not be seen by the naked eye and explodes like nothing.
9. Jetpack (Thunderball)


Sure, the film wasn’t that great and the jetpack looks dated, but one can’t deny that Bond owning a jetpack is pure win.

8. Wristgun (Moonraker)– Responding to quick wrist movements, the wrist gun is fantastic for a quick shot against any foul villain.
7. Cigarette gun (You Only Live Twice)– Tricking enemies to give you back your smokes is even better when lighting up and shooting.
6. Explosive pen (GoldenEye)

Sometimes the IT guy has a habit of clicking pens that taking it to its advantage is quite explosive.

5. Laser Watch (GoldenEye) Not even Q explained what the hell it is, but the laser watch can burn through metal for quick escapes with ease.
4. Lotus Submarine Car (The Spy Who Loved Me)– The quick escape from a chase is through the sea to investigate an explore the ocean world in style.
3. Booby Trap Suitcase (From Russia With Love)– Suitcases can fit your secrets, but luckily, this suitcase can knock foes out to keep the safe.
2. Wet Nellie (You Only Live Twice)– The helicopter is certainly not a toy, but Bond’s ultimate weapon for the air.
1. Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)

Nothing like riding in pure style in a classic car, fully equipped to take out the baddies with machine guns, tire spikes, and ejector seat to kick out those you have no use for.

Honorable Mention: The Vanquish (Die Another Day)

The movie is tripe and the car is not the best, but that invisible camouflage feature was pretty sweet, one can’t deny not wanting it.

Best Chases
10. Quantum Teaser Chase (Quantum of Solace)- A badass beginning to a wildly mediocre with a full on shootout as Bond tries to escape Quantum agents.
9. Tankbusting Through St. Peterburg (GoldenEye)– Sure, Bond could have taken his BMW given to him by Q, but decided against that by taking a tank to the streets to get back Natayla.
8. Ski Free Run (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Bond takes out KGB spies in Austria while skiing and not missing a beat, finshing in a blaze of glory by base jumping with a Union Jack parachute.

7. Under Constuction Foot Chase (Casino Royale)– Bond predates Assassin’s Creed by trying to fetch his target from the streets to entering construction site leading to a spectacular fight on a crane up in the air.
6. Istanbul, Not Constantinople Chase Teaser (Skyfall)- James Bond, alongside new MI6 colleague Eve, track down the man who stole the hard drive throughout all across Istanbul on foot, in a car, and on motorbike in about ten minutes of pure glory.
5. Ski Escape from Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)– The mother of all ski chases as Lazenby gets his own crowning moment of awesome by escaping Piz Gloria while taking out Blofeld’s men.
4. Scenic Route (For Your Eyes Only)– Though short at only three minutes, Bond and Melina decide to take the scenic route to escape while causing some mild property damage along the way.
3. The Ice Chase (The Living Daylights)

Bond tries to get Kara to safety only to be part of a gadget laden chase with Bond taking out and entire truck blocking the road with the Stinger missiles from his Aston Martin.

2. Land to Sea (The Spy Who Loved Me)– James Bond and Anya leave the wrath of Jaws and Stromberg’s men by engaging in a car chase with a helicopter above shooting, motorcyclists, and ending with Bond going into the sea and blowing up the copter over head.
1. Goldfinger Forest Escape (Goldfinger)

The Aston Martin gets to shine brightly in the spotlight with Bond taking advantage of smoke screen, missiles, and even the ejector seat.

Honorable Mention: The Quantum Foot Chase (Quantum of Solace) It isn’t as stellar as the chase from Casino Royale, but deserves a mention for being one of the very few highlights from Quantum of Solace.

Best Fights, Battles and Raids
10. Scaramanga vs. Bond (The Man with the Golden Gun)- As Scaramanga himself said, it was a battle of the titans that was suspenseful and daring with trippy moments galore. Bond wins of course, but the duel itself made Golden Gun a not so bad sit through.
9. Fort Knox Battle (Goldfinger)

Goldfinger got another thing coming in the form of Felix Leiter and the army charging in to take down Goldfinger’s men at Fort Knox.

8. Bond vs. 006 (GoldenEye)– After having to deal with Alec throughout the entire film, they come to blows on an antenna cable high above the satellite dish in a battle of former brothers of MI6.
7. Mr. Stamper’s Opus (Tomorrow Never Dies)- Bond fights off this Red Grant clone by delivering an ass whooping after having to deal with strong menace.
6. In The Mouth of Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me)– James Bond faces Jaws once more at the end of the feature ready to face him off. Bond uses his magnetic personality (aka a magnet) to drop him into the shark tank below.
5. Next Time, Take The Elevator (Casino Royale)– James Bond gives some associates of Le Chiffre a reason to take the elevator next time by using his fists to deliver a British style ass whooping.
4. Volcano Ninja Raid (You Only Live Twice)

James Bond calls upon Tiger Tanaka’s ninjas to invade Blofeld’s hideout to destroy it and give the ninjas time in the spotlight.

3. Bond’s Oddjob (Goldfinger)– Oddjob and Bond meet face to face in Fort Knox resulting a a silent duel to the death with Oddjob smacking Bond into walls and dying by electrocution when receiving his hat Bond tossed.
2. Red Grant vs. Bond (From Russia With Love)– The build-up to these two facing one another spanned the entire film in suspense, so when it happened, it was quite the treat as they fought in only two small rooms yet took advantage of their space as the first true battle of the titans.
1. The Battle of Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

It may have been hard to top You Only Live Twice’s volcano battle, but OHMSS did it in a climatic battle with Draco’s men firing, Bond sliding down on ice shooting away, and Tracy, captured by Blofeld, kicking ass from the inside of the hideout.

Honorable Mention: Skyfall Falls (Skyfall)- Mr. Silver and his men tear down Bond’s childhood home in a blaze of glory. Bond helped with the destruction. A true highlight, but not as great as the ones listed.

Best Bond Theme Songs
10. ‘For Your Eyes Only’ by Sheena Easton

Sheena Easton’s theme for For Your Eyes Only is different from other Bond themes and becomes remarkable in its own way by straying from the standards. It is soft, graceful, and beautiful and feels real setting up the film perfectly in some strange way. Truly spectacular.

9. ‘Skyfall’ by Adele

Adele brought back a return to form for Bond themes with this dark soulful ballad that seems to be unlike Adele’s previous works. The theme sets the tone perfectly and delivers by throwing back to Shirley Bassey wonderful tunes of yesteryear combining elements of the classic James Bond theme.

8. ‘Diamonds Are Forever’/’Goldfinger’ by Shirley Bassey

Two great ones from Shirley Bassey that I couldn’t even decide which was better. ‘Goldfinger’ remains her classic magnum opus of Bond tunes setting up a delightful theme for our villain, but ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ is on the same league describing diamonds as something greater than love itself and was the best part about it’s feature. Bassey set the standard for Bond themes to come after and made them legendary.

7. ‘A View to a Kill’ by Duran Duran

Duran Duran brought in 1985 Bond to new heights with a new wave style Bond theme for a new era. It’s fresh (for 1985), lives up to not only the Bond theme stanadards, but Duran Duran’s style as well. It is a pop epic setting up the craziness that is A View to a Kill.

6. ‘The World is Not Enough’ by Garbage

Garbage’s ‘The World is Not Enough’ is a spectacular song oozing with seductive and nearly threatening vocals by Shirley Manson setting up the character of Elektra King within the film. Often considered the first song done from the villain’s perspective.

5. ‘You Know My Name’ by Chris Cornell

How do reintroduce a character everyone already knows? Describe everything about James Bond without saying his name. Chris Cornell gave a proper reintroduction to Bond with a thrilling symphonic rock epic a la ‘Live and Let Die’ declaring that you already know who James Bond is.

4. ‘Licence to Kill’ by Gladys Knight

James Bond and Gladys Knight is the equivalent good sex for the ear to hear. Soulful and beautiful and, oddly, a love song for a Bond theme that is bombastic, fluid, and epic in every sense of the word with Gladys belting it out hitting the highest of high notes.

3. ‘Live and Let Die’ by Paul McCartney and Wings

Paul McCartney decide to prove Bond’s Beatles insult in Goldfinger wrong by providing the first true rock song for a James Bond film that shift from soft and hopeful to manic rhythms of epic to light in fun out of nowhere. McCartney and Wings introduced the rock song theme.

2. ‘Nobody Does It Better’ by Carly Simon

Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody Does It Better’ from The Spy Who Loved Me is a love song like no other combining the sounds of what a Bond tune should be but giving a soft rock spin on it that Rita Coolidge failed at giving for Octopussy. It’s romantic and gorgeous beyond belief perfecting the Bond love theme formula.

1. ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ by John Barry and His Orchestra

John Barry, longtime composer of the James Bond series, made his magnum opus in the form of ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ by providing the right tune and style to convey all that is Bond without saying a single word. Every time the theme kicks up in the film, it gets one excited ready for Bond to take on the mission at hand and made the various chases throughout memorable. Hell, the entire score for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is remarkable making the music steal the entire show.

Honorable Mention: ‘All The Time in the World’ by Louis Armstrong

This lovely love tune appears during a loving montage in the feature and remains one of my favorite love songs by jazz legend Louis Armstrong. This might be my wedding song in the future, folks. And of course…

How can we forget the James Bond Theme from Dr. No, the most iconic theme in cinema? A true legend in its own right.

Best Bond Henchmen
10. Tee-Hee, performed by Julius W. Harris (Live and Let Die)

One would think having a pincher claw for a hand wouldn’t be terrifying, but Tee-Hee uses it to his advantage by being terrifying himself. No one would not want that man to crush the groin area.

9. Nick-Nack, performed by Herve Villchaize (The Man with the Golden Gun)

Once off Fantasy Island and Herve Villechaize becomes a dangerous little man ready for the kill at the orders of his boss Scaramanga. A nasty bugger, but a fun henchman.

8. Xenia Onatopp, performed by Famke Janssen (GoldenEye)

A rough Bond girl using foreplay as a means to kill men with her thighs, she was quite the lover in the room. A femme fetale who orgasms when killing others making her the craziest Bond girl ever.

7. Mr. White, performed by Jesper Christensen (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace)

It is hard to tell if Mr. White is a henchman or not, but since he was working with Le Chiffre, he qualifies. Mr. White is the modern day hench with a cold heart attitude that doesn’t care for others, only himself and his needs. He even kill Le Chiffre just because of a deal gone wrong. He never went on to be a full fledged villain, which is quite a shame.

6. Fiona Volpe, performed by Luciana Paluzzi (Thunderball)

This saucy minx took advantage of Bond and everything about him from trying to kill him, sleep with him, and nearly leaving him for dead. Luckily, Bond being Bond just kills her and leaves her for dead instead, but she set the precursor for Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye by being one vicious bitch.

5. Baron Samedi, performed by Geoffrey Holder (Live and Let Die)


Baron Samedi, the first true invincible Bond henchman (sorry, Boris) by being a voodoo preist and constantly coming back to life. Bond even shoots the bastard in the head, puts him in a coffin, and by the end, Baron is on the front of Bond and Solitaire’s train laughing away. Geoffrey Holder, being a dancer and award winning stage director, owns his role.

4. Necros, perfromed by Andreas Wisnieski (The Living Daylights)

Sure, we’ve had ton of Red Grant clones, but Necros manages to deliver the same sense of unease Grant delivered. By approaching his enemies and straggling them with his headphones playing The Pretenders, Necros makes sure it is the last thing you ever hear and he sends you off to meet your maker once and for all. Also, he nearly destroyed MI6 so that’s something.

3. Oddjob, performed by Harold Sakata (Goldfinger)

Silence is truly deadly with Oddjob and his truly incredible strength ready to kill Bond. Oddjob remains one of the deadliest foes by painting Jill Matheson in pure gold paint, killing her sister with his hat, and even hurting Sean Connery in real life (You don’t hurt Connery dammit). Oddjob is your man.

2. Red Grant, performed by Robert Shaw (From Russia With Love)

Red Grant is a henchman out of a Hitchcock film by playing his part perfectly by being friendly with Bond at first, but turning into a menace to kill him on the train. Robert Shaw’s performance makes Grant so memorable for being intriguing and intimidating that the audience knows he is trouble before Bond knows. Grant is a legend of strength and pure terror.

1. Jaws, performed by Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker)

Richard Kiel brings the human element into Jaws by making him not only comedic, but a true threat at the same time. Jaws mixes the elements of Red Grant, Oddjob, and Baron Samedi (seriously, how can Jaws not die) becoming something Roger Moore’s Bond can not face. Jaws even came to Bond’s defense after Hugo Drax didn’t deem him perfect for his society. Bond having a baddie such as threatening as Jaws on your side is just perfect.

Honorable Mention: Mr. Stamper, performed by Gotz Otto

A grea tribute to Red Grant, but should have focus more on being a menace than just getting a body count

Best Bond Villains
10. Elektra King, performed by Sophie Marceau (The World is Not Enough)

Some may have their complaints about The World is Not Enough as a whole, but for me personally, Elektra King was the best part, playing the act of damsel in order to fulfill her needs. She used her Stockholm Syndrome to take hold of her former kidnapper to help her carry out her plans and became the greatest bitch in the Bond series. I love it all.

9. Dr. No, performed by Joseph Wiseman (Dr. No)

Dr. No is the one who started it all and a perfect fit. The build-up to Dr. No is so great that once we, the audience, finally see him, he lives up to our expectations with his cold demeanor and no care attitude. A pure menace just in his presence with a plan I’m still not clear on.

8. Francisco Scaramanga, performed by Christopher Lee (The Man with the Golden Gun)

Scaramanga is the epitome of cold assassin rivaling Roger Moore’s take on James Bond’s light hearted self. Armed with fantastic shooting skills and his golden gun that can kill someone in one shot, Scaramanga is quite the threat in quite a mediocre Bond feature.

7. Le Chiffre, performed by Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale)

The first villain of the new Bond timeline, Le Chiffre is a calm man that is quite intriguing and threatening. Le Chiffre has the skill of a professional poker player and the mind of a madman with a eye that tears up blood constantly due to damage. When you get him off the poker table, he is a ball buster…literally, he nearly destroyed Bond’s balls.

6. Elliot Carver, performed by Johnathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies)

His plan is terrible, his ego is too big for his britches, but Carver is one crazy megalomaniac media mogul. Not only does he wants to run the entire media industry, he made a submarine and has a team that is devoted to making stories come first on his paper by bringing them to reality and nearly starting World War III. Only an insane man would be able to pull it off and Carver does.

5. Raoul Silva aka Mr. Silver, performed by Javier Bardem (Skyfall)

Mr. Silver, a former MI6 agent, comes in nearly a half hour in the film in one of the greatest Bond villain entrance with a speech ready. Silver is clearly still distraught from the torture he faced, but is genius hacking into MI6 and stealing their secrets and cover names of agents. Silver wants M dead and MI6 gone, but goes back in forth from kind to pure insane asylum material.

4. Alec Trevelyan, Agent 006, performed by Sean Bean (GoldenEye)

Another former MI6 agent who wants Bond dead and gone, but is the first to be a rogue agent ready to destroy the world. Alec is a man seeking vengence of Bond for screwing him over and the master of pointing out cliches to the point you want this man dead, but that is what makes Alec such a threat. He knows exactly how Bond and every mission works and can be one step ahead of the program.

3. Max Zorin, performed by Christopher Walken (A View to a Kill)

A villain from a So Bad, It’s Good Bond feature, but luckily, Max Zorin falls in the good category by being a frightful and powerful enemy. Zorin with a plan simliar to Goldfinger’s, but only slightly more stupid, Zorin makes you believe it can work by being an ice cold threat to everyone around him, especially James Bond. It also helps that Christopher Walken plays him because only Walken could play such a over the top character become such a foul enemy ready for the kill.

2. Auric Goldfinger, performed by Gert Forbe (Goldfinger)

His acts are legend in Bond lore from trying to blow Fort Knox to kingdom come to radiate gold for himself and nearly slicing Bond’s personal Walter PPK in half with a laser. Goldfinger may not seem like the most intimidating of Bond’s rogue gallery, but is one of the most memorable more for his actions than his actual being.

1. Ernst Starvo Blofeld, performed by Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, and Charles Gray (From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever)

Blofeld is the villain with the most presence and most number of film appearances and was esstially Bond’s Lex Luthor to his everyday Superman. Though originally in the shadows, finally seeing him for the first time was outstanding and the build-up to who he was surpassed Dr. No. Charles Gray was the worst of the bunch performing him resorting him to a joke, but before that, Blofeld was a true threat ready to send SPECTRE to rule the world and everything around it.

Honorable Mention: Rosa Klebb, performed by Lotte Lenya (From Russia With Love)- Rosa Klebb wasn’t really much of a threat (except for her knife shoes), but gave rise to Red Grant ready for the kill.

Best Bond Girls
10. Melina Havelock, performed by Carole Bouquet (For Your Eyes Only)

Melina Havelock, not only beautiful and stunning, but ready to seek vengeance on the death of her parents. Melina combines strength in her character and determination to attempt to succeed on her revenge. She comes across Bond seeking out the man who crossed her parents and team up to seek him out. She set the precursor for independent Bond girls to come after and succeeding.

9. Solitaire, performed by Jane Seymour (Live or Let Die)

Solitaire, the virgin fortune teller, provides beauty and grace by becoming a fantastic Bond ally. Solitaire joins Bond after de-virginizing her (way to go, Bond) to help him get rid of Kananga and Mr. Big once and for all by being the perfect bait to help Bond get Kananga and help locate where he is for Bond to defeat him. Solitaire is fantastic and Jane Seymour has never been better (and even at her older age, still is gorgeous).

8. Pam Bouvier, perfromed by Carey Lowell (Licence to Kill)

From the often bashed films, Licence to Kill (which I really enjoyed), Pam Bouvier is confident, strong, and cares more about getting the mission done than Bond. Bouvier cares for Bond and truly falls head over heels for him, even to the point she wants to kick Lupe’s ass for sleeping with him. Bouvier and Bond made a fantastic duo, but Bouvier seemed to be stronger than Bond himself.
7. Honey Ryder, performed by Ursula Andress (Dr. No)
The first Bond girl who made an impression by coming out of the water and whetting Bond and the men in the audience’s appetite. Honey Ryder brings light to be the first being a strong ally to Bond by helping him defeat Dr. No, before being captured for bait. She started the term Bond girl and that in itself deserves a spot on her.
6. Pussy Galore, performed by Honor Blackman (Goldfinger)
One of the most famous Bond girls due to her name alone being not so nice to mention in polite company, Pussy Galore is a delight. The first lesbian or possibly bisexual Bond girl who changes after being subdued by Bond to his side to take down Goldfinger’s plot. Pussy shines when she is teasing Bond and tormenting him with her sexual prowess. Certainly one Pussy no one should give up.
5. Anya Amasova, performed by Barbara Bach (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Anya Amasova aka Triple XXX of the KGB is assigned to find out who stole the Soviet submarine while searching for who killed her lover. She is teamed up with Bond to find Stromberg who has taken the subs and they both fall for one another. Of course, Triple XXX herself ain’t so bad at the agent business clearly being on the same level as Bond to the point she can kill him, but doesn’t. Anya is the first Bond girl in the same league of Bond ready to get the job done.
4. Tracy Bond aka Teresa Draco, performed by Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
Bond’s first true love came in the form of Teresa Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service who is Bond’s true equal. Tracy loves this man, plain and simple, and the chemistry is immense going from a mild bout of disgust (Bond slapped her!) to getting married until she is killed in a drive by shooting of her wedding day. Diana Rigg is beyond gorgeous and manages also to kick some ass during the Piz Gloria battle. Tracy Bond, one of the best.
3. Wai Lin, performed by Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies)
Wai Lin is a badass, surpassing the Bond girls before by coming into her own and even denying Bond the first time around. Combined with the hard edge of a martial artist and the beauty of grace of Michelle Yeoh (the woman is beautiful, you can’t deny it), Wai Lin is capable of handling things herself that she didn’t even need Bond to help her. Hell, why couldn’t we just have a film around her? She is the best character in Tomorrow Never Dies, even outshining Brosnan’s Bond. Wai Lin, the first true ass kicking Bond girl that can do no wrong.
2. Titana Romanova, performed by Daniela Bianchi (From Russia With Love)
Tatiana Romanova is near perfection by being both beautiful and strong. Loyal to what she believes in, Tatiana still is under Rosa Klebb’s rule but falls for Bond almost instantly and remaining by his side every step of the way as she defects to the west. Also, Tatiana seducing Bond remains one of the greatest seduction scenes in film without resorting to full frontal nudity. To others, she might not be the best, but personally, one of the best of the Bond girls.
1. Vesper Lynd, performed by Eva Green (Casino Royale)
Vesper Lynd is the first Bond girl in the novels and the best in the film series. The reboot changed the standards of Bond and Vesper is no exception. She doesn’t fall in love with him at first sight, it slowly builds with some banter back and forth, teasing one another, and building. She is strong willed and able to continue on, but emotional when in a panic after witnessing Bond beat the ever loving crap out of some bad guys. Eva Green performs Vesper not as a fantasy like the other Bond girls, but a woman you can meet and obtain in reality. The connection feels real between her and Bond that once it reaches the conclusion of Casino Royale, the viewer is left broken. To me, that is what makes Vesper the best Bond girl of all time.
Honorable Mention: Camille Montes, performed by Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace)

As I said in my Quantum of Solace review, Olga Kurylenko I can never get mad at because she appears in crap and winds up being a highlight due to her performance. Being the second Bond girl of the rebooted series, she provides a hint of Melina and the softness and beauty of Tatiana. I can’t bring myself to hate her.
Now for a quick list of the Five Worst Bond Girls
  1. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) from The World is Not Enough The worst of the worst. No emotion, no personality, and only hired for beauty over her acting. Terrible in every way.
  2. Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) from Diamonds Are Forever- The equivalent of letting a dummy act without the ventriloquist, wooden and just there.
  3. Susan Sutton (Tanya Roberts) from A View to a Kill– Her screaming ‘James!’ was like a cat screaming in the middle of mating: unbearable.
  4. Jinx (Halle Berry) from Die Another Day- The one good thing about this performance is at least it wasn’t Catwoman. That is no compliment.
  5. Mary Goodnight (Britt Elkland) from The Man with the Golden Gun- Just watch The Wicker Man. She is much better in that.

And before we get to the Best Bond Films, here are the Five Worst Bond Films

  1. Die Another Day- It’s the anniversary movie that references every movie, beats you over the head with it and craps all over the franchise.
  2. Diamonds Are Forever- The first film to turn Bond into a farce with poor acting, poor pacing, and a overdone piss poor plot.
  3. Octopussy- The ‘So Bad, It’s Good’ film that is just miserable and bad in every way imaginable.
  4. Moonraker- James Bond in space. I repeat: JAMES BOND IN FUCKIN’ SPACE…and it’s boring.
  5. Thunderball– Never have I wanted to fall asleep during a film and I’ve seen all four hours of Gone With the Wind

Best Bond Films
10. Dr. No (1962)

The first Bond film providing the first Bond girl, the first Bond villain, and a wide variety of first. Dr. No feels like true spy storytelling that engages the audience in an experience as Bond faces off against the nefarious Dr. No. With a great pace and tight knit story, Dr. No is a great start for the Bond series as a whole.

9. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The best Roger Moore outing as Bond is filled with the spectacle of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice and the humor that Live and Let Die tried to achieve at and failed. It’s fun and exciting because it is filled with fantastic action sequences including the Lotus Submarine Car, lovable characters such as Jaws, and a romance that doesn’t feel completely forced.

8. You Only Live Twice (1967)

Some may call it ridiculous and over the top and one of the worst of Connery’s time as Bond, but that is what makes You Only Live Twice so enjoyable. The story may seem unbelievable with Bond essentially teaming up with ninjas after dying, but with a tight script by Roald Dahl, it all comes together and plays out to fantastic results with one of the most adventurous Bond outings to date.

7. Goldfinger (1964) 

The Bond film that assembles every Bond trope you love mixing the serious nature of Dr. No and From Russia With Love and setting up for the over the top, elobrate gadget laden adventures of the future. Goldfinger brings in the action and the Aston Martin everyone loves. Considered to be the best Bond films by tons of fans and it is not very hard to see why.

6. The Living Daylights (1987)

Timothy Dalton’s introduction to Bond is the perfect Bond film for the late 80’s. Jam packed with spectacular action set pieces from the ice chase to the climatic plane fight against Necros to light hearted romance and jokes throughout, The Living Daylights is a must watch for anyone, even if they aren’t a Bond fan.

5. GoldenEye (1995)

GoldenEye ushered in a new era of Bond for the 90’s with a suaver take on Bond and a more self-aware view of the Bond universe. Sure, the constant pointing out of the cliches can be annoying, but as the film plays the trope straight, it is more of a love letter to the series than a mean spirited take. Providing the action you love (once again, the tank chase is to die for) and taking its plot and villain serious while being fun, GoldenEye is a pure joy. If only more of the Brosnan Bond films were like this one with the exception of Tomorrow Never Dies.

4. Skyfall (2012)

50 years after the release of Dr. No, the franchise is still alive and going off into a promising future with Skyfall. Surpassing both GoldenEye and the wretched anniversary film Die Another Day, it is great to know Skyfall takes everything we loved about James Bond and improves on them while introducing new styles and revamped characters to appear in the rebooted timeline. From the return of the Aston Martin to spectacular chase sequences to a downright serious and suspenseful approach to the typical Bond villain and plot, Skyfall pays homage to the past to move forward and become its own entity. Certainly one of the best of the best.

4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Thought I first gave it a 4.75 out of 5, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service started to grow on me as one of the top 5 Bond features by playing everything the previous established straight and even introducing a true romantic lead that Bond can connect with. Lazenby may not be the best acting wise, but the film makes up for that with the best action scenes in any Bond feature and the musical score that is sets the entire film up to being one hell of a fun ride. It’s down to Earth and well made and a joy to watch. EON Productions once said if they had to save a Bond feature for future generations and to that I say, I hope the future generations love it as much as I did.

2. Casino Royale (2006)

Reboots are a hard sell and rebooting such an icon of cinema and pop culture is the biggest of risks until Casino Royale put all the worrying behind by being a dark realistic take on the character much closer to the novel and prevailed at doing so. Casino Royale brought back the Bond that was seen a bit in From Russia With Love with new life and a harder edge a la Timothy Dalton. The story is fantastic with the most suspenseful card game in film, a harsher and gritty story rivaling Licence to Kill, and a romance that blossom with Vesper in the vein of Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Of course, it still delivers the action fans love, the Bond girls to swoon over, and a villain that makes a lasting impression on the audience. It is not only one of the best Bonds, but one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time.

1. From Russia With Love (1963)

There were talks may back when the film series was first starting out that Alfred Hitchcock himself could have directed a Bond feature, but there really isn’t a need for him to have ever directed one since From Russia With Love feels like the Bond film he would have made. From Russia With Love is a true thriller of espionage with suspense, a clever romance, and even being frightening at times due to Red Grant’s presence. Everything seem to come together with a great mix of action and thrills that engage you and make you experience something that even surpasses the expectations of just a simple Bond film into something greater. From Russia With Love is not only the best Bond films, but one of the greatest films ever made.

Honorable Mention: Licence to Kill (1989)

I have heard every complaint about Licence to Kill from ‘it feels too much like Maimi Vice’ to ‘it’s too violent for a Bond film’ to ‘Dalton is terrible and this film is awful for not being close to anything before it’. To that I say, that isn’t really a bad thing. Sometimes, you have to break out of the same old standbys to try something and see if you can accomplish it. To most, this film is failure in their eyes, but to me personally, I think it triumphed in breaking away from the standbys (not all of them of course) and gaining its own identity. Give it a rewatch and see if the opinion before still remains.

That about does it for the Top of the Crop Lists this time around as we explored the world of Bond, but one final tribute to those we lost who filled the series with joy and stood by Bond’s side no matter the cause or the mission.

Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny) 1927-2007

The always gorgeous and simply amazing Miss Moneypenny stood by Bond as he traveled the world, waiting for him to return and providing great back and forth. Lois Maxwell made Moneypenny a strong ally to Bond who could never turn away from him.

Bernard Lee (M) 1908-1981

As Bond’s boss, M sent Bond out of his most dangerous assignments ranging from escort mission to even going up into the space. Bernard Lee set the standard for what M was and could be.

Desmond Llewelyn (Q) 1914-1999

Q gave Bond the best gadgets Q Branch could provide from the Walter PPK, the Aston Martin, wrist guns, and even the ridiculous yet practical exploding pen. Desmond Llewelyn appeared in more Bond films than any other and holds a special place in the hearts of many Bond fans.

Aston Martin DB5 (The Aston Martin DB5) 1964-2012

The Aston Martin DB5 took the Bond world by storm by providing Bond with missiles, machine guns, and the ejector seat for killing the mook passenger with ease. The Aston Martin DB5 was killed in action while helping Bond defeat Mr. Silver and his men.

And even though it isn’t a Bond alie, we can’t forget…

The Igauna from Licence to Kill (Franz Sanchez’s Iguana) 1989-2001

Even though your screentime was short, we will never forget how random and out of place you were in Licence to Kill.

The end, but James Bond will return for fifty more years

007 in 23: Final Assignment #023- Skyfall

ASSIGNMENT #023: Skyfall (2012)

After going through twenty two features and covering nearly five decades of James Bond, it is finally time to approach the much anticipated release of this year in time for the 50th Anniversary of James Bond in film…Skyfall. After four years of wondering if the franchise would ever comeback due to the bankruptcy of MGM and seeing if Daniel Craig can don the suit again, Skyfall seemed like a dream. Now it is here and I’m ready to write about it.

Warning: Due to it being a major recent release, this will be very spoiler heavy. I may have a non-spoiler review out soon.

Now, onto Skyfall…

James Bond and MI6 field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) are on a mission in Turkey to recover a hard drive containing the details of nearly every undercover NATO agents in terrorist organisations from a murdered agent. Bond and Eve are in pursuit of the killer and mercenary Patrice (Ola Rapace), across Istanbul (once again, not Constantinople) leading to Bond and Patrice fighting on top of a train in which Bond gets shot on the shoulder. Bond tries to retrieve the hard drive, but is shot when Eve misses the killer while sniping from a distance. Bond falls off the bridge and falls into a river below and is pronounced dead.

The end…the hell it is! This is Bond, dammit.

He is considered “missing, presumed killed”. Three months later, M (Judi Dench) starts to come under fire to retire while meeting with Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Finnes), when suddenly MI6 is hacked with a message reading “Think_of_your_sins”. M arrives to MI6, alongside Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear), as MI6 explodes killing MI6 employees. Bond returns to London after hearing about the attack while using his “supposed death’ as a retirement. Bond starts to train again to fully return, nearly failing a majority of his test, but passes regardless. Bond also meets with his new Quatermaster aka Q (Ben Whishaw) who gives him a Walter PPK which can read his hand to identify him and a radio tracking device. Bond took shrapnel from his shoulder wound to find Patrice and seeks out Patrice in Shanghai. While Bond is away, M sees that three agents have been killed after their identities are exposed for the world with more to be released. Bond tracks down Patrice in Shanghai and witnesses him assassinating a target and proceeds to fight with him. Bond hangs him from the building demanding him to reveal his employer, but slips out of Bond’s hands before telling him and dies. Bond searches through the equipment to find a gambling chip that has ties to a casino in Macau. Bond heads to the casino to cash in the chip and meets a woman named Severine (Bernice Marlohe), waiting for the chip to be cashed to meet the killer and informs him that he is about to be killed. Bond says he will promise to kill her employer who has abused her if he can make it passed her boatyards (which, being Bond, does even giving one to a Komodo dragon to feast) and plans to meet her on her boat. He arrives on her boat, makes love to her, and awakes the next day for Severine and himself to be captured and delivered to her employer, Raoul Silva aka Mr. Silver (Javier Bardem). Silva holds Bond and proceeds to tell Bond he is behind the entire ordeal being a former MI6 agent who worked under M and hold her responsible for his torture and imprisonment in China. Silver challenges Bond to shoot a shot off of Severine’s head, but Bond misses. Silver kills Severine, causing Bond to beat the crap out of Silver’s gaurd and calls upon helicopters with his radio to capture Silver.

At MI6’s new underground base of operations, Q starts to decrypt Silver’s laptop while Silver is imprisoned. As this is going on, M is attending a hearing to defend herself in a public inquiry of her handling of the recent events. As Q decyrpts Silver’s laptop, it hacks back into MI6 causing Silver to escape into the London Underground as part of his plan he had. Bond starts to pursue Silver who is disguise as a policeman. Silver tries to kill Bond with a train (yes, a freakin’ train) and heads to the hearing starting a shootout to attack M. Bond arrives to join Eve and Mallory to fight Silver off as M escapes with Bill Tanner outside. As Bill Tanner put M in the car, Bond is inside ready to help her escape. Bond, knowing the new MI6 vehicles have a tracking system, decides to use an old friend to help them escape…the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, complete with all the gadgets. Bond and M head straight out of England and into Scotland to his childhood home, Skyfall, which is home of memories that made Bond the man he is today. Bond instructs Q to set up an electronic trail for Silver to follow and Mallory supports the idea.

At Skyfall, Bond and M meet Kincade (Albert Finney), Bond’s caretaker and gamekeeper to the Bond family estate who help M and Bond set up traps for Silver and his men when they arrive. Once they arrive Bond, M, and Kincade fight off the wave of attackers, where M is wounded by a gunshot on her side. Thinking they are in the clear, Silver arrive in a helicopter for a second wave of attack with explosives and pure gunfire from the air and land. Bond tells M and Kincade to escape via a secret passage way to a chapel within the house. Bond then fights off against the men, uses the DB5 guns at one point, as Silver starts to launch incendiary grenades at the place. As the Aston Martin is destroyed, Bond sees this and detonates to gas canisters to blow the place down. Apparently, trying to kill bond’s allies will just make him angry, but blowing up the DB5 will send him into a furious rage. The blast of Skyfall going down in flames causes the copter to crash and kill Silver’s men. Silver sees Kincade’s light up ahead and follows it to get at M, all while Bond arrives at the frozen lake. The last man of Silver begins to fight Bond on thin ice, causing them to fall into and Bond kills him under the ice. Silver makes his way to the chapel and grabs M, but notices she is bleeding rapidly. He place a gun to her head and his head next to M’s forcing his gun into M’s hand to finish them both. Bond arrive to kill Silver, but sees it is too late for M as she dies from her wound. Bond returns to MI6 and receives the final gift of M’s from Eve, which is a toy bulldog he hated. Bond heads to the new MI6 office where Eve reveals herself as Eve Moneypenny (Yes, that just happened) who decides to be the newly appointed M’s secretary who is now Mallory. M gives Bond his next assignment which he kindly accepts. what that assignment is, we will find out when the time comes. The film ends with the gun barrel sequence which proudly pronounces 50 Years of Bond declaring that James Bond will return.

Skyfall is in a simple word nothing short of spectacular. After fifty years of providing thrills, Bond hasn’t lost his edge and is looking to move forward with dazzling performances, great set pieces, terrific story, and becoming something new by celebrating the old. Javier Bardem as Mr. Silver is chilling giving a terrifying performances while hamming it up a bit with some camp gay qualities, but nothing to overboard. Judi Dench in her final performance as M is the perfect cap to her take on the character providing depth into her role becoming the best M for Bond. Berenice Marlohe in her brief amount of screen time is also great, but I would have liked to see more. Naomie Harris as Eve is fantastic and hope to see her take Moneypenny come full circle in the future, alongside the always terrific Ralph Finnes who can deliver a new M for a new age of Bond. Ben Whishaw as Q I also hope to see more of as being the new hipster version of the Q I love, but just like Desmond Llewelyn, not missing a bit of snark. Daniel Craig at this point has set out to be the best Bond and I am proud to say, the man deserves the role being up there with Connery and proving himself as a gifted actor coming into the role with ease. The story is tense and suspenseful with moments that have you on the edge of your seat from the opening teaser Istanbul chase to the raid on Skyfall, it never fails to disappoint. The quieter moments of the film give atmosphere and dedication to the story I haven’t seen since From Russia With Love and adding new layers to the characters we already love. Skyfall feels like the ultimate love letter to James Bond.

The theme song by Adele is just stellar with a beautiful and trippy opening title along with it, a treat for the theatergoer. It’s soft yet bombastic and nearly apocalyptic oozing sounds of the early era of James Bond themes a la Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra. Skyfall all in all is one of the best of the year, if not, the best of the year paying tribute to the franchise’s past while looking towards the future of the franchise with performances one can believe, action that never dulls, and a story that will make any Bond fan and even non-fans fall in love with.

Assignment Status: 5 out of 5

That does it for 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond- From Dr. No to Skyfall and it was a wonderful movie watching and writing experience to share with you. We saw the creation of a legend from the swinging 60’s to the modern age of today as Bond fought it out against power hungry villains from all backgrounds. We saw Bond travel across the world, into the sea, and even into the far reaches of space. We witnessed Bond fall in love with countless women, from the replaceable one night stands to the irreplaceable stealers of his heart. We witnessed friends come and go be it for the best or because their time had sadly come. We saw countless men portray 007 from the originator of Sean Connery, the suave and humorous light hearts of Moore and Brosnan, the harder edged takes of Dalton and Craig to the one timer that is Lazenby. Bond is a true legend and going through this series I see why. Bond is a fantasy for everyone, not just the men. Men want to be him as he defeats his foes and woos women and women want him for his persona, strength and intelligence. Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 is a legend that will continue to live on for fifty more years. To you, Mr. Bond, I raise a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, to your legacy and years of delivering cinephiles all over the world wonderful memories to talk about to years. Truly, nobody does it better.

The End But James Bond Will Return in Top of the Crop Lists: Bond Edition!

Catch up on 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond Before Skyfall is Posted!

This weekend, I am giving you, the reader, an opportunity to catch up on all 22 Bond film reviews before we head in Skyfall, which will be posted around Monday due to celebrating birthdays this weekend and personal issues I need to sort out. From Dr. No to Quantum of Solace, get some weekend warrior reading done after your plans. Below will be the posters of the features with the links attached. Merely click the posters to be directed to the film’s article and go on reading. Get ready because after Skyfall is posted, I will make a Top of the Crop List: Bond Edition, which will rank the ten best films, ten best Bond girls, ten best gadgets, ten best villains, and determine who is the best Bond.

Sean Connery’s First Five Features of the 60’s

George Lazenby’s Time in the Spotlight Closing Off the 60’s

Connery’s Ill-Suited Return in the Start of the 70’s

Roger Moore’s Record 007 Run From the 70’s to Early 80’s

Timothy Dalton’s Harder Edge Bond of the Late 80’s

Pierce Brosnan Brings Bond Back for the 90’s and Early 00’s

Daniel Craig’s Darker Blond Bond, Rebooted for a New Age in the Late 00’s and Beyond

COMING MONDAY! The Final Mission: Skyfall

007 in 23: Assignment #022- Quantum of Solace

ASSIGNMENT #022: Quantum of Solace (2008)

James Bond is in mid chase from Lago di Garda to Siena, Italy, with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) from the previous feature in the trunk of his car. Bond and M begin to interrogate Mr. White about his organisation, Quantum (which is essentially SPECTRE and SMERSH), when M’s bodyguard, Mitchell (Glenn Foster) attacks M as he is a double agent. White escapes as this occur and Bond chases down Mitchell on foot and kills the bastard. Bond and M proceed to head back to London and search Mitchell’s flat in discovering banknotes that trace back to a contact in Haiti. Bond heads to Haiti to find the contact, Edmund Slate (Neil Jackson) and learns that he has been sent to kill the lover of environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), Camille Montes (the stunningly beautiful Olga Kurylenko). As Bond observes her meeting with Greene, Bond learns Greene is helping an exiled Bolivian General, Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), the muderer of Camille’s family, to take over the government in exchange for a barren desert (Because, for another time, that is how that works). Bond rescues Camille from Medrano and heads follow Greene to a performance of the opera Tosca in Bregenz, Austria as CIA head Gregg Beam (David Harbour) to make a deal with Greene to keep access to stocks of Bolivian oil and now I’m having World is Not Enough flashbacks. Bond inflitrates a meeting at the opera between the Quantum agents scattered throughout the audience (try Starbucks next time). Bond interrupts the conversation engaging in a gunfight during the dramatic part of the opera, which is a great sequence in an otherwise dull film. Bond kills Quantum member Guy Haines, who is bodyguard for Special Branch and advisor of the Prime Minister, casuing M to revoke Bond’s passports and credit cards after Bond refuse to head back to MI6. Fortunately, this isn’t going to stop Bond.

Bond catches up with his ally Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) to come to Bolivia with him asking to provide some passports and credit cards. Upon arrival to the La Paz aiport, MI6 officer Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arteton), possibly Forever, meets them demanding Bond to return to London as soon as possible, but Bond being Bond soon picks in her fields (sorry for the pun, again) before they head to Greene party later in the evening. Bond heads to the party and see Greene is ready to kill Camille and rescues her again, leaving Fields at the party alone. As they leave, they are both pulled over by Bolivian police working under Medrano, who put Mathis in the trunk of Bond’s car to frame him, with Bond starting to fight them as Mathis is killed. The next day, Bond and Camille look to see the land Quantum has obtained only to be shot down in battle and skydive out of the plane to a cave. Bond and Camille discover that Quantum is damming Bolivia’s supply of fresh water in order to create a monoploy, because that is exactly how that should work (take notes, other Bond villains). Bond heads back to La Paz to encounter M overseeing the murder of Fields after Quantum drowned her in crude oil, a nice throwback to the paint suffocation in Goldfinger. Bond escapes being arrested for disobeying M’s order, but tells M that Fields was a brave worker in the field which convinces M he can be trusted. Bond meets up with old pal Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright once again) who tells Bond that Greene and Medrano are planning to meet in the desert to finalize the deal. Bond evades the CIA Special Activities Division where they attempt to kill him. Greene and Medrano negotiates their terms where Greene reveals his true plans to control the water supply and make his water company the sole supplier at a higher rate. Bond enters the hotel, kills the Chief of Police for betraying Mathis and heads to confront Greene. Bond and Greene destroy the hotel (Bond fights cause more property damage than The Avengers do in one film), Camille kills Medrano avenging her parents death and Bond captures Greene. Bond interrogates him about Quantum and leaves him in the desert with an engine oil can as Bond and Camille kiss (No love making for Bond with her, but Fields is fine? Okay, I guess.). Bond heads to Kazan, Russia where he meets with Vesper’s former lover, Yusef Kabira (Simon Kassianides) with a new target in the form of a Canadian agent. Yusef, part of Quantum, seduces women with great contacts, but Bond, possibly seeing the similarities, decides not to kill Yusef and allows MI6 to arrest him. M tells Bond that Greene was found dead in the desert shot twice with engine oil in his stomach and Bond denies any knowledge of it. M informs Bond that Leiter has been promoted to Beam’s position and reinstates Bond as an agent. Bond leaves saying he never left and drops Vesper’s necklace in the snow.After all that, we get a satisfying return of the true gun barrel sequence.

Quantum of Solace is a dull film with a dull premise and doesn’t scream Bond. The action is pretty okay, the plot is crap and paced very slow which is ironic considering this is the shortest of the Bond features. Craig as Bond is still fantastic and shines greatly along with Olga Kurylenko, who I think is a fantastic actress who always ends up appearing in a ton of terrible films, but manages to be the best part and this film is no exception. The villain played by Matheiu Amalic isn’t memorable in any sense of the word and doesn’t seem like a threat. Judi Dench and Jeffery Wright play a much bigger role and are delightful in their respective roles. Gemma Arteron and Giancarlo Giannini also clean up nicely acting wise. The plot, though realistic, fails in being interesting with too many things going on as once and trying to tie into Casino Royale, but fails at that. The only highlight is the spectacular opera gunfight, which is a treat to watch. The film mostly gained these fault due to the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008 that made the film be rewritten nearly on the spot and causing commotion, much like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which also fell victim to the strike do to using the first draft to film rather than just rewrite.

The theme song ‘Another Way to Die’ by Alicia Keys and Jack white is also just okay. It has a great beat and a great sound, but the vocals of Alicia and Jack just don’t mesh together well. Quantum of Solace is not the best Bond film, but it is far from being the worst thanks to performances that make the dullness a bit easier to sit through.

Assignment Status: 2.5 out of 5

Next time, Bond investigate an attack on MI6 by former MI6 operative Raoul Silva after years of absence from the scene. The sky will fall, the clouds shall open, and the world of Bond is about to change again like it changed to world fifty years ago in 1962.

Final Mission: Skyfall

007 in 23: Assignment #021- Casino Royale

ASSIGNMENT #021: Casino Royale (2006)

After the disastrous Die Another Day, it was time to reboot Bond in a new age of reboots ruling the film industry. It is pretty easy to toss this alongside the Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy just starting with Batman Begins as a dark gritty reboot and new vision of the character, when in reality, Craig’s Bond is closer to the character’s roots in the novel. The franchise needed a fresh start once again due to another franchise becoming popular.

Bond’s biggest competitor at this point in time was the critically acclaimed Bourne series, which I do enjoy watching. Craig’s era is Bond versus Bourne and critical acclaim is what both are after. No gadgets this time around, no comical plots, and no BS, this is Ian Fleming’s Bond tried and true. Now onto Casino Royale.

In the opening teaser, Bond obtains his 00 agent status by killing a corrupt MI6 section chief after killing his right hand man, as he needs two kills in order to be promoted. Bond heads to Madagascar to track a international bomb maker named Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan) and start to chase him in a parkour style chase (great stunt casting since Foucan is the founder of freerunning). Bond chases him to a embassy, kills him, and blows part of the building as a distraction to escape. This incident pisses off M since he did it in pubic and not in private. Bond looks through Mollaka and discovers a text leading to Alex Dimitros, an associate of terrorist financer and banker, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen [Sidenote: The greatest name ever]). Le Chiffre involves in short selling stock in companies in order to crate terrorist attacks to sink the shares of their profits, a step up of half the previous Bond villains’ plans. Bond goes to Dimitro’s house in the Bahamas and beats him in a card game, wining his car. Bond uses this to his advantage to seduce Dimitro’s wife, Solange (Caterina Murino), to find out information that Dimitros is heading to Miami. Bond doesn’t sex her up and decides to head to Miami to stop Dimitros. Bond finds Dimitros attending the Body Worlds exhibit and kills him. Bond then seeks out Le Chiffre’s henchman Carlos who is headed to Miami International Airport to destroy the prototype for a Skyfleet airliner. Bond foils Le Chiffre’s plan to destroy it in a engaging chase throughout the airport. Le Chiffre, hard up on cash, to recoup his client’s losses sets up a high stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker at Casino Royale in Montenegro.

MI6 sends Bond to enter the tournament hoping that defeating Le Chiffre will help him aid the British goverment in exchange of protection from his creditors. On a train headed to Montenegro, Bond meets an ally in the form of Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and Treasury agent looking after the money, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green who is just lovely as ever). After getting to known one another and partake in some delicious back and forth, they head to their hotel to prepare for an evening at the high stakes game with more character development, ringing flashbacks to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond enters the game (complete with cameo by former Bond girl Tsai Chin from You Only Live Twice), losing the initial stake of $10 Million and Vesper refuses to give him a $5 million  stake to still be in play. Bond wants to assassinate Le Chiffre, but an another man in the game stops Bond and reveals himself to be long lost Bond character, Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright). Felix offers to help Bond out in exchange for Le Chiffre. Bond and Vesper head to the room, until Bond spots some random mooks and kills them. This sends Vesper into a panic and Bond tries to care for her as she sits under a cold shower writhing in fear. After this poignant and beautiful moment, he enters the game once again and gets poisoned with a drink sending him into cardiac arrest in a sequence close to Crank, but survives thanks to Vesper coming in the nick of time to save him. Bond heads back to win against Le Chiffre and has the winnings transferred to a Swiss bank account. After this, Mathis betrays them and abducts Vesper to bring to Le Chiffre. Bond almost kills her by acciddently running her over in a trap. Le Chiffre tortures Bond by smacking him in the nads constantly in a terrifying sequence to gain the access code with Vesper as bait to get him to talk. This doesn’t work when Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) shows up and straight up shoots Le Chiffire and his associates. The film isn’t even over and the villain is dead, but that is nothing bad.

Bond wakes up in a hospital in Lake Como in Italy and order Mathis arrested as being a double agent. Bond sees Vesper once again and professes his love for her and would love to start a new life with her, ready to send his resignation to M. Both head to Venice to begin a new life, but Bond soon finds his poker winnings have not been transferred and realizes Vesper has stolen them to pay some associates, which Bond feel betrays and proceeds to start a gunfight in a sinking building. After killing them, he tries to save Vesper from dying as she is trapped in the elevator. Vesper kills herself knowing she was screwed anyway in death with Bond looking at her dead in the eyes (sorry for the pun) knowing his love is lost. Mr. White leaves with the money while looking at the building sink with Bond surviving. Bond returns to the service with M revealing Vesper was blackmailed to pay for the ransom of her boyfriend by Le Chiffre and Mr. White in exchange for saving Bond’s life. Bond calls upon Mr. White for a ending so satisfying I might as well show it.

His name is Bond…James Bond and he proved it.

Casino Royale is not only one of the best Bond, but one of the best movies of the past twelve years, bar none. Packed with a serious take on the character, great performances by the most stunning actors imaginable, action that doesn’t dull or stop the story dead, Casino Royale is the near perfect Bond film. I really do not have any complaints about it. Daniel Craig fits into the role with ease, only coming second to Connery in the best Bond in his personal take on the role. Eva Green as Vesper Lynd as depth and character to a Bond girl, something that reminds me of Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, perfecting a role with style, grace, and dazzling skill. Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre is brilliant with a great mind and a sense that this man will kill you no matter what, but also plays him with a sense that he is still human. Judi Dench as M is still wonderful as always, so nothing to complain about there. Jeffery Wright as Felix Leiter is good, even if his scenes are quite small. Moneypenny and Q are nowhere in sight, but that is okay because this film works fine without them. The action set pieces are magnificent with the free running chase in Madagascar really stealing the show. The story is just stellar giving the character new life, even though this was established years ago in the novel it was based upon, bringing Bond to a new era without having to appeal to the lowest common denominator (another flaw that Die Another Day suffered). It seems EON really put their heart and soul into this feature ready to deliver a thrill ride that satisfies to the very end.

The theme song is phenomenal with Chris Cornell delivering a new take on a Bond theme that doesn’t fail to capture the original feel of the themes of yesteryear. Also, the opening titles sequence I’ve seen over 15 times on its own. It is just gorgeous and a masterwork that Maurice Binder would be proud of. Casino Royale is the pinnacle of reboots and bringing an old character to life with the best of Connery-era Bond with novel influence, giving a fresh take with performances to die for. Even if you never seen a Bond film or just want to see great movies, Casino Royale is great and only second to From Russia with Love in my book.

Assignment Status: 5 out of 5

Next mission, Bond is back and up against Dominic Greene, leader of Quantum, a new terrorist agency planning to seize control of Bolivia’s water supply. It is time for Daniel Craig to prove himself again from what I hear is just a mediocre Bond film.

Next Mission: Quantum of Solace

007 in 23: Assignment #020- Die Another Day

ASSIGNMENT #020: Die Another Day (2002)

This movie is god awful. There, I said it, but I will get to why because this movie is too stupid not to write about and point out what is wrong. This is Brosnan’s final time as Bond and for good reason as this film nearly killed the Bond franchise for good and ended the first timeline of the Bond series till the rebooted timeline that Casino Royale brings to the table.

James Bond heads to North Korea to meet with Colonel Tan-Sun Moon (Will Yun Lee), who is illegally trading diamonds for weaponry. Moon’s assistant Zao (Rick Yune) discovers that Bond is a MI6 agent which causes the colonel to escape. Bond creates a distraction with an explosion, where Zao gets diamond fragments in his face that would rival Edward from The Twilight Saga. As the chase between Bond and Moon, Moon goes over a waterfall and dies. The colonel’s father, General Moon (Kenneth Tsang), arrive just not time to capture and torture Bond throughout the entire title sequence with Madonna’s shit-fest of a theme song playing. If that isn’t torture, what is? After 14 months of captivity, torture, and not able to feel the touch of a woman, Bond is traded for Zao in a prisoner exchange, gets sedated, and taken to M. M tells Bond that his 00 status is suspended, due to Bond possibly leaked information under stress. Bond escapes MI6’s hospital wing and travels to Hong Kong upset that Zao has been released. Entering the hotel and meeting with his contact (i.e. dumbass he can blackmail) that Zao is in Cuba. Bond heads to Cuba to smoke cigars, gets information, and meets with an NSA agent named Jinx (Halle Berry giving her worst performance). Bond follows Jinx the next day after making sweet blue lighted room love to her to a clinic that specializes in gene therapy. Patients can reconstruct their DNA to alter their appearances, which hasn’t caught on in Hollywood yet. While there, Bond locates Zao inside the clinic a proceed to fight the newly diamond encrusted albino Korean (which I can’t deny is actually fantastic makeup work). Zao leaves in a helicopter, but leaves behind a pendent, which Bond opens to find a cache of diamonds similar to those in the beginning of the feature. Bond sees that the diamond are encrusted with the crest of billionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens).

Bond heads to the Blades Club, alongside assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike who is too gorgeous to be in this piece of crap) to partake in fencing practice with Graves and is greeted by Verity (Madonna, gorgeous, but can’t act worth a damn), Gustav’s instructor. Bond and Graves fight in the most boring fencing match I’ve ever seen and Graves invites him to a demostration in Iceland of a new technology he has gained. Spoiler: It’s a giant space laser. Why? Because this film is Diamonds are Forever 2.0 and everything I said was bad about that film applies right here also. In Iceland at Graves Ice Palace, Graves unveils a satellite (cough Space Laser cough) called Icarus that can focus solar energy on an area to provide year-round sunshine for crops. Later, Jinx breaks into Graves’ command centre, but is captured by Zao and taken to a room to be killed by lasers, a not so subtle reference to Goldfinger. Bond rescues her, kills a guy via laser through the head, slow motion and sped up shots that appear throughout the entire film, and sees Zao talking to Graves. Bond discovers that Colonel Moon is still alive and using gene therapy to become Gustav Graves…seriously? I thought the Silicon Valley destruction and Moonraker plots where stupid, then I heard that. Bond confronts Grave, but Frost double crosses Bond to reveal she blackmailed Bond in North Korea, causing Bond to escape the facility. Bond returns using his Aston Martin Vanquish aka the Vanish thanks to its invisible capability, to rescue Jinx and engages in a car chase that goes from great to awful as hell. The cars drive into the ice palace that is stating to melt and fast to kill Jinx, but rescues Jinx and kills Zao. Jinx and Bond head to the Korean peninsula to go stow away in his cargo ship. Grave finally reveals himself to his father as his white guy self while wearing a football iron suit that allows him to be superpowerful and this is where I stopped the movie. I’m not kidding. Unlike Octopussy or Diamonds Are Forever that I fast forward to the end, I just stopped it dead. It was just an awful film. The resolution? Of course Bond and Jinx wins, Graves plan is foiled, Miranda Frost dies, and who can give a crap.

Die Another Day is, pardon my language, pretty fuckin’ terrible. I didn’t even point out the laughable action sequences  the terrible CGI, the references scattered throughout that are just so blatant, I could make a list of them. Everyone is awful in it from Brosnan to Stephens, except for Rick Yune, Rosmund Pike, and John Cleese, who steps in the role of Q with ease. Rick Yune as Zao is a fantastic henchman who can be quite intimidating. Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost plays an icy bitch so well that she outshines Oscar winner Halle Berry. Speaking of Ms. Berry, she is awful in this feature that you can’t believe she won an award. Toby Stephens is awful as hell hamming it up into the role, but not making it fun or memorable and coming off as a bully more than a threat. Brosnan’s final time looks like he is ready to cash the damn check and run with it because he looks bored and just rolling with the punches. The camera work and editing is painful coming off looking like Batman and Robin with fast edits and quick headache inducing cuts a la modern action flare and the overuse of CGI makes this the most fake looking Bond and I saw Kananga turn into a balloon and blow up. Die Another Day is the worst of the series, beating out Octopussy and Diamonds Are Forever.

The theme song by Madonna. Need I say more? Madonna doing a Bond song is an awful idea that came to life in the form of a Eurotrash pop tune that destroys every foundation of a good Bond title tune. Easily, the worse. Die Another Day should have died another day because every element you loved about Bond is destroyed and made a mockery of in the ultimate shit fest.

Assignment Status: 1 out of 5

Next mission, Bond is rebooted with Daniel Craig as the blond young Bond to take down a terrorist network headed by Le Chiffre, meets the lovely Vesper Lynd, and gets into the gritty world of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. We are nearing the end.

Next Assignment: Casino Royale