007 in 23: Assignment #019- The World is Not Enough

ASSIGNMENT #019: The World is Not Enough (1999)

Before we head into The World is Not Enough, let’s talk about Desmond Lleweyln for a bit. The World is Not Enough marks the end of a magnificent as Lleweyln played the iconic character of Q for a record seventeenth time. Llewelyn was magnificent throughout the entire series and is indeed my favorite character of the franchise from having to put up with Bond destroying his precious gadgets, giving witty banter, and always telling Bond to pay attention. Llewelyn remains a legend in the Bond franchise and made the role Q his own. John Cleese steps in in this film to take the reigns, but only for Die Another Day. The reboot timeline did not have Q, which nearly disappointed me. That was until I saw the trailer for Skyfall (the reason I started this series) and Daniel Craig’s James Bond introduced himself to his new Quartermaster, otherwise known as Q. I am so ready to see the new interpretation of Q and hope to see Llewelyn’s legacy live on. Sadly, Desmond Llewelyn died tragically in a car accident nearly a month after the release of The World is Not Enough. Rest in piece, Desmond, I have finally paid attention. Nobody does it better.

James Bond meets up with a Swiss banker to get money for Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon. Bond explains to the banker that King is ready to buy a report that a MI6 agent died over and wants to know who did it. The banker gets upset ready to attack Bond, only to be assassinated by his assistant (Maria Grazia Cucinotta aka Cigar Girl) before revealing the name with Bond leaving with the money. In London, Sir Robert is killed via booby-trapped money inside MI6’s walls. Bond starts to hunt down the Cigar Girl assassin on the River Thames in a boat chase where she kills herself detonating a hot balloon she was escaping in. Bond finds traces of the money to Renard (Robert Carlyle), a former KGB agent turned terrorist, who has a bullet in his brain which is slowly destroying his senses making him have immunity towards pain. M tells Bond to protect King’s daughter, Elektra (Sophie Marceau), who Renard previously abducted and held her for a ransom of $5 Million cool ones. MI6 believes Elektra may be targeted once again, leading Bond to head to Azerbaijan where Elektra is overseeing construction on a new oil pipeline. As the overlook the pipeline’s new mountain location they are attacked by (and I shit you not) flying snowmobiles. They engage (sorry for overusing that) in a fire fight, a classic Bond style ski chase, and get trapped under ice. Of course, they survive or else this would have been a very short Bond film. Bond heads to talk to his old Russian Mafia pal, Valentin Zukosky (Robbie Coltrane) to learn who Elektra’s attacker are and learns that Elektra’s security head, Davidov (Ulrich Thomsen), is working alongside Renard. As Bond learns of this, he kills Davidov off  and takes off in a plane headed for a Russian ballistic missile base in Kazakhstan where he poses as a nuclear scientist. Bond meets with nuclear physicist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards playing a scientist…I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t bee said before) and proceeds enter the silo to find Renard stealing a GPS locator card and plutonium from a bomb inside. Bond is ready to kill him as Christmas (Seriously, Christmas? Christmas?) reveals Bond’s identity, setting Renard free while stealing a bomb and killing everyone in the silo (Way to go, Denise Richards) with Bond and Christmas escaping before they can be burned to a crisp.

As Bond heads back to Azebaijin with Useless Jones right behind him, he informs M that Elektra might not be the sweet girl with a mild form of Stockholm syndrome he bedded down. Bond give M a locator card as proof of the theft when suddenly Renard’s bomb, attached to an inspection rig, is traveling at a fast pace down the pipeline headed to the oil terminal. Bond and Useless, I mean, Christmas head to attempt to stop it in time and set off the bomb by escaping in time, only for MI6 to believe the both have died. At this moment, Elektra steps in and reveals that Renard is not responsible for the schemes, but that it is herself.  Yes, kids, it took nineteen films to finally have a woman Bond villain and, I may get hate for this, but I love this twist. Elektra killed her father as revenge for using her as bait for Renard, causing her to develop the Stockholm syndrome I briefly mentioned earlier. Elektra decides to abduct M just for the hell of it. Bond and Christmas head to Zukovsky at his caviar factory on the Caspian Sea, only to be attacked by a helicopter with five dual saw blades (that’s just overkill). Of course, the factory gets destroyed and Zukovsky reveals he made an arrangements with Elektra to use a submarine captained by his nephew, Nikolai, who Renard kills. Bond, Zukovsky, and Christmas (you are still here?!) head to Istanbul, not Constantinople, where they believe Renard and Elektra are using the plutonium to turn the submarine into a nuclear bomb that will destroy all of Istanbul, which I assure you is not Constantinople.

Elektra plans to due this to sabotage the Russians’ oil pipeline to have her pipeline go around Istanbul to increase the value of her oil because, as you all know, that’s how that works. Bond receives a signal from the locator card from the Maiden’s Tower from a local command center right when Zukovsky right hand man, Bullion (Goldie), betrays him and blows up the center. Zukovsky is rendered unconscious, as Bond and Christmas are captured. Christmas is taken to the submarine to save the audience from seeing her and Bond is being held hostage by Elektra and her garrote chair. Zukovsky and his boys enter the tower and shoot up the place, until Elektra shoots him down. As Zukovsky lays dying, he uses his cane gun to free Bond (essentially, Hagrid just saved James Bond). Bond finds M and frees her, while coming face to face with Elektra and shoots the crazy bitch down. Bond then goes to the submarine to stop Renard and free Christmas (No, don’t do that). The submarine begins to dive below the surface breaking its hull. Bond kills Renard so he can join Elektra in hell or purgatory and Bond and Christmas leave with Bond boning her in a hotel after the events claiming that he thought Christmas only came once a year, leaving the audience to groan the biggest damn groan in their lives.

The World is Not Enough is not enough of a Bond film and more of a mediocre action film, which is not something kind to say about a Bond feature. The action seems run of the mill this time around with the exception of the opening teaser that blows the rest of the film out of the water. The plot is quite similar to A View to a Kill, instead with oil and some performances in the film are just subpar. I hate to harp on the gorgeous Denise Richards, but she is the worst part about this film. She doesn’t emote any of the lines correctly, comes off as dumb, and seems here to be eye candy. I’ve gotten to the point about complaining about eye candy in a Bond film. Robert Carlyle as Renard seems to slip in and out of Russian to reveal his Scottish accent and falls flat in certain scenes by not being menacing at all (odd considering he is a fantastic villain in Once Upon a Time on ABC). Brosnan seems a bit bored being Bond this time around with the exception of the Q scene which you can see Brosnan was having a blast. Robbie Coltrane returning as Zukovsky is a delight to see because he looks quite happy to be in another Bond feature and seems to be hamming it up quite well. The film is paced very quick, but maybe to quick to fit such a overly-complex plot and characters that should be given a bit more development for us to get a full sense. A positive about this film is the same positive I have with A View to a Kill, but this time it is more controversial. I love Sophie Marceau’s Elektra King as the villain (I can hear your boos coming in) as she is an intimidating and captivating seductress that wins you over, only to back stabbed your rooting for her. I assure you she would have been more of a hit with Bond fans if the story, hell, just the film around her character was well plotted and a bit longer for some more character development. This film seems to take what made Tomorrow Never Dies an enjoyable film with spy elements, but due away with the spy elements and make it a even more generic action extravaganza.

The them song by Garbage is another controversial pick for a favorite Bond song. I like Garbage and this song is no different with Shirley Manson belting it out in a sexy seductive manner. This theme is not for Bond, but for Elektra if you really think about it and with that in mind, it just works all around. The World is Not Enough is generic in every sense of the word and a mediocre entry in the franchise, but is nearly saved with a fantastic twist to reveal a delightful villain.

Assignment Status: 2.75 out of 5

Next time, Brosnan is back for a final time with Bond betrayed, imprisoned, and nearly left for dead trying to find the North Korean colonel that he thought he had killed, but seem to be back. Time to review the franchise killer of the first Bond timeline and the most hated Bond film known as Die Another Day. This is going to be a fate worse than hell, isn’t it?

Next Assignment: Die Another Day

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007 in 23: Assignment #018- Tomorrow Never Dies

ASSIGNMENT #018: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Bond is sent by MI6 to spy on terrorist buying weapons on the Russian Border as MI6 watch from their headquarters to identify some wanted criminals. One of the identified wanted men is Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay) who is buying a GPS encoder by the American military. Admiral Roebuck (Geoffrey Palmer) decides to launch a missile attack on the arms dealing market while Bond discovers two Soviet nuclear torpedoes and escapes on the plane having the two torpedoes as the place is blown to kingdom come. Unfortunately, Gupta escapes with the encoder in hand. Later, a media mogul by the name Elliot Carver (Johnathan Pryce) starts to use the encoder to bring about war between the United States and China in order for his media empire and his newspaper, Tomorrow, has the full story. Carver sabotages the British ship HMS Devonshire into Chinese-held waters in the South China Sea with Carver’s right hand man Mr. Stamper (Gotz Otto) attacking the ship with a sea drill from Carver’s stealth ship. Mr. Stamper kills the remaining survivors using Chinese weaponry and a Chinese jet sent to see what is going on. M (Judi Dench), Bond, and Admiral Roebuck get wind of it by seeing the first Carver Media Group Network (GMCN) report of it. Roebuck sends his fleet to recover the ship leaving MI6 and M 48 hours to investigate the sinking. M sends Bond (as always) to investigate Carver at a party in Hamburg for the premiere of Carver’s first worldwide channel, only to meet his old flame and Carver’s wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), and a mysterious Chinese reporter named Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh). Carver finds out about Bond being an agent via recorded conversation between him and his wife having his men attack him as Bond cuts off Carver’s big reveal. Later, Bond seduces Paris in order to get information on where Carver’s headquarters are at.

Bond goes to the headquarters, knocks a few heads, tosses a man into a newspaper press (because they will print anything these days), and sees Wai Lin in the same building doing her own investigation of the case. Bond gets the GPS encoder and heads in his hotel room to find Paris has been killed by Carver’s henchman, Dr. Kaufman (Vincent Schiavelli) looking to frame Bond for the murder and be in the next issue of Tomorrow. Luckily, Bond kills him, gets involved in a semi-chase sequence filled with the BMW 750i gadgets shining with Bond taking control of its remote control sensibility (Q, once again Desmond Llewelyn, gives it to Bond as a rent-a-car agent). After that action set piece, Bond heads to China to investigate the wreck where he discovers Wai Lin also investigating it and both discover one of the nuclear missiles is missing. They escape after accidently trapping themselves only to be captured by Stamper and Carver’s men and are taken to Carver’s tower in Saigon, only to escape in a spectacular motorcycle chase throughout Saigon. After a quick shower, Bond and Wai Lin are in her secret hideout (think Q Branch, but smaller) and begin to collaborate on the investigation. Both head to Carver’s stealth ship in Ha Long Bay to prevent him from firing the missile at Beijing to prevent Carver’s plan of getting exclusive television rights in China (because, once again, that’s how that works). As they battle, Wai Lin is captured as Bond capture Gupta, which backfires as Carver kills Gupta. Bond detonates a explosive to make it visible on radar, setting Wai Lin free and the ship ablaze. With Wai Lin disabling the engine, Bond gets ready to destroy the missile with Carver attempting to kill Bond. Bond gives him the drill (by that, I mean Bond just kills him) as Stamper appears to fight him. Bond gives the Red Grant wannabe a MI6 style ass beating, stick him into the missile firing chamber, saves Wai Lin as it explodes and destroy the ship and kills Stamper. Bond and Wai Lin start to begin to make sweet music as another ship searches for them.

First off, this was a short article compared to the last film, but this is mostly how short the film feels and how little plot there is. Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun film, not one of the best of the series, but a great watch. I can see the flaws as the plot is pretty forgettable. Bond taking on a media mogul doesn’t sound like a must-watch Bond film, but then again, Bond has face space laser obsessed crooks, drug dealers, and microchip manufacturers. The action takes over any story and may be too much for some, but this film never gets boring. The performances are well with Johnathan Pryce being the highlight alongside Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin, who is as beautiful as she is dangerous. Teri Hatcher is easy on the eyes, but falls flat in some of her scenes. Brosnan’s Bond is finally shining through as more of a suave man of action rather than a spy, but I can live with that. The MI6 side characters are still great as always being Bond’s bread and butter. Gotz Otto as Mr. Stamper seems more like a dumber version of Red Grant of From Russia with Love, but Vincent Schiavelli out shines him in a small but hilarious role. The major complaint I have with this one is nearly the same one I had with Licence to Kill is that while a good feature, you could replace the main character with anyone else and it would be the exact same damn movie. I don’t fault the acting, but I think since every action movie after the Bond series uses most of the tropes established by the series, it seems like this could be bundled in with other action films from this era. It just seems like a normal action movie, that somehow, works in James Bond.

The theme by Sheryl Crow is a bit boring and doesn’t feel like a Bond song. It feels like a B-Side to one of her albums and falls flat for me. The end titles song by k.d. lang is much better, so stick around for that. Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun film filled with the tropes of Bond you love, even if it isn’t the greatest film, but be thankful it isn’t truly awful.

Assignment Status: 3.75 out of 5

Next time, Bond investigates the assassination plot of oil tycoon and billionaire Sir Robert King to protect his daughter, Elektra, who has been held ransom before by returning terrorist Renard. Bond must face the oil industry, a terrible Denise Richards, and a twist that makes you think twice about the Bond franchise.

Next Mission: The World is Not Enough

007 in 23: Assignment #017- GoldenEye

ASSIGNMENT #017: GoldenEye (1995)

Pierce Brosnan was going to be Bond way back in 1986 right around the time The Living Daylights was ready to start filming, but due to conflicts with NBC and his commitments to Remington Steele. Brosnan was the man everyone felt could step into the role of Bond like nothing as was perfect for the job. Fans had to wait until 1994 for MGM and UA to finally announce that Brosnan was going to finally be James Bond after Timothy Dalton officially bowed out of the franchise. This is casting that everyone and their mothers loved and GoldenEye was officially in production to bring Bond back for the 90’s…and boy, was that a fantastic decision. I’m just going to say it now before we go further, I love GoldenEye.

The film starts off in 1986 (about a year before the events of The Living Daylights) agent 007 James Bond and agent 006 Alec Trevelyn (Sean Bean) infiltaring a Soviet chemical facility, where Trevelyn is captured and shot at the hands of Colonel Arkady Ourumov. Bond escapes the facility via pane as the facility blows to smithereens in the background. Cut to nine years later in 1995, Bond is getting evaluated in  to see if he can come back after going rogue after the events of Licence to Kill (Who said the plotline from other films didn’t carry over?). Bond sees another woman speeding next to him and decided to pursue her, but fails in catching her. Bond heads to Monte Carlo only to see her again and learns she is Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), a member of the Janus crime sydicate who is currently seeing a Royal Canadian Navy admiral. She murders the admiral during sex by crushing him with her thighs to allow Ourumov to steal his identity. The next day during a presentation of the Eurocopter Tiger helicopter, both of them steal the prototype as it can withstand electromagnetic pulse. The two take it to a bunker in Severnaya to massacre the staff and steal the dual GoldenEye satellite weapons control disk to destroy the complex with electromagnetic pulses (essentially a shockwave from space even Thor would envy). The two take the programmer Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) seeing that he can be of use, leaving Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) to fend for herself. She heads to St. Petersburg to arrange a meeting with Boris, only to be betrayed by Boris to Janus.

Meanwhile at MI6, M (Judi Dench) assigns Bond to investigate the attack they have witnessed, but before that, Q (Desmond Llewelyn still in his signature role) provides our main man some gadgets and Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) a farewell before he heads out. Bond heads to St. Petersburg with assistance by CIA agent Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker, wait, aren’t you supposed to be evil…and dead?) to meet up with Russian Mafia head Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), a rival of Janus. Bond learns a tip about a heist coming up soon from Zukovsky, who quickly arranges a meeting between Bond and Janus. Onatopp is sent to Bond’s hotel to kill him, but Bond uses his sexual powers (because Bond does indeed have some) to smack her into walls and convinces her to take him to Janus. Bond is taken to meet Janus, where he discovers that it is Alec Trevelyn, agent 006 behind the entire scheme for vengence on the British for killing his family back in World War II (He should be older, but the Bond series timeline is already so out of wack, I can’t even explain it). Bond is at the ready to kill him, but Alec has the upper hand by knowing him too well and takes him out with a tranquilizer dart. Bond wakes later in the Tiger helicopter programmed to self-destruct with a screaming Natalya kicking him allowing Bond to eject the seats before self-destruction. The two are arrested and interrogated at the milatary archives by Russian Minister of Defence Dimitri Mirshkin (Tcheky Karyo) where Natayla reveals that there is a second GoldenEye satelitte. Ourumov enters the room and kills the minister, causing Bond and Natalya to escape into the archives and starting a fire fight with this men. Natalya is taken by Ouromov in his car with Bond pursuing in the most badass way possible…via tank (it took seventeen film to finally get Bond in a frickin’ tank) engaging in one of the finest chase sequences in the entire series. They find Alec’s armored train, where Ourumov is shot to death with Alec trapping Bond and Natalya in the train ready to self-destruct. Bond uses his deus ex machina laser watch to help escape, all while Natalya find the location of Boris’ satellite. They escapes with Natalya discovering it is located in Cuba and begin to head over.

In Cuba, they meet up with Jack Wade where Bond trades his gadget laden BMW (You didn’t use the missiles!) for a plane to locate the base. They pass over a lake said to be the location, until they are shot down by a missile into the jungle. Onatopp heads to the wreckage to eliminate them both via helicopter. Bond latches her back on the rope for her to be crushed to death by shooting down the helicopter, thus pulling her into a tree. They enter the control station after seeing the lake be drained revealing the satellite dish. Bond is captured (you seriously think he would have learned how not to get captured by now) by Alec who reveals his plans to rob the Bank of England  and use the GoldenEye to destroy all the record’s to destroy Britain’ economy. As this goes on, Natalya rearrange the GoldenEye to destroy itself as Alec captures her and orders Boris to save the satellite. Bond notices Boris’ habit of playing with a pen, so he gives him his explosive pen to make Boris click the fuse on it, which explodes the base. Bond heads to the antenna cradle sabotaging it to prevent control of it again with Alec ready to fight Bond. Bond and Alec start to fight five hundred feet above the dish with Bond kicking him off, only to pick him up to deliver a final exchange. After this, Bond tosses Alec into the dish, killing him (Alec was played by Sean Bean, so he was bound to die in this movie). As the dish and cradle explode, Bond and Natalya escape ready to make love as JAck Wade and the marines arrive to save them.

GoldenEye is just plain fun and exciting, bringing back what made the franchise great. The action is perfect from the tank chase to the opener and the dramatic climatic destruction of the Severnaya base is just stellar. The acting is superb with Brosnan playing to his strength as Bond and feeling right at home. Sean Bean is spectacular as a villain, even if him pointing out every damn cliche of Bond gets annoying really fast. I had the same problem with Susan Sarandon in enchanted pointing out all the cliches to the point where even I wanted her dead, so same here with Alec Trevelyn. Famke Janssen and Izabella Scuropco are great in their Bond Girl roles with Famke’s over the top nature with constant orgasms and Izabella’s matching both beauty and smarts. Judi Dench as M is thrilling and single handily delivers Bond’s ass on a silver platter to the point I nearly clapped. The character actors ranging from Joe Don Baker to Robbie Coltrane also fit very well in the Bond universe and don’t feel wasted. Hell, even Alan Cumming as Boris who would be annoying in another film works well here. The pacing is very well done that even I didn’t know that an hour had passed halfway through watching this film. This film is just a stellar one to watch. Also  it has one of my favorite Q scenes in a feature with him yelling at Bond for touching his lunch, thinking it’s a gadget. The only major complaint I have is the constant winks and nudges at the longtime watchers and fans. They are very fun at first, but pointing all the cliches out while doing the cliches themselves are very hypocritical but luckily, this doesn’t fully deter the experience of GoldenEye.

The theme by Tina Turner is amazingly done and fantastic, nearly reminiscent of Shirley Bassey’s other iconic gold based theme, ‘Goldfinger’. Also helps that Bond and The Edge did some great writing. GoldenEye is a golden treat for the eyes with all the fun of yesteryear Bond, but adding a modern twist that doesn’t feel forced. I love it.

Assignment Status: 4.75 out of 5

Next time, Brosnan is back to fight against a media mogul from taking over the world and ingniting World War III, alongside Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin and Teri Hatcher. This might be a fun one.

Next Mission: Tomorrow Never Dies

Oh wait, one more thing…

How do you not talk about GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64? It opened a new world of first person shooters to succeed on home consoles, started a big movement in multiplayer in shooters that still resonates to this day. I’ve played it countless of time and it got me more involved into watching the James Bond features, mostly GoldenEye. Overtime, the gameplay hasn’t held up the best, but for it’s time it was innovative and paved the way for more shooters on consoles. If it wasn’t for its success, I don’t think we would have ever seen Halo or the successful Call of Duty series take off as large as they did. GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 is a classic and the HD remake of the same game for the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 aren’t so bad either, so go scope those out for some action.

007 in 23: Assignment #016- Licence to Kill

ASSIGNMENT #016: Licence to Kill (1989)
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Timothy Dalton’s final Bond film and not by choice. Legal disputes took place after this feature due to television rights, ensuring another Bone feature could not be made. Dalton still on contract to play him a third time, but by the time 1994 rolled around, he dropped out Licence to Kill seemed like the end of the Bond franchise for good with screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, and many of the long time Bond crew decided to part from the series. Along with this, this film failed to gain the kind of box office withdrawals previous films made. It is considered one of the darkest and grim of the series, along as the worst. I beg to differ on the latter part.

As Bond heads to the wedding of former CIA now DEA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison, Live and Let Die), the DEA contact Leiter and Bond to help capture drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) before the wedding. Bond and Felix capture him by helicopter and hooking Sanchez’s plane mid-air. Bond and Leiter jump out of the plane a parachute to the wedding. Sanchez uses a fellow DEA agent of Leiter’s, Ed Killifer (Everett McGill) to help him escape. As he escapes, Sanchez sends his henchman, Dario (Bencio del Toro in his first major role), to capture Felix Leiter’s wife, Della (Priscilla Barnes) and to rape and kill her. Dario kidnaps Leiter and having a shark bite off his leg. Bond goes back to Leiter’s place after hearing that Sanchez has escape to find to find Della dead, but Felix injured (if you can call getting bitten by a frickin’ shark an injury). Bond vows to avenge Della’s death by hunting down and killing Sanchez, but Bond fans know it is him seeking a personal vendetta due to his own wife’s death. Bond kills the DEA agent that betrayed Leiter which causes M to assign Bond another assignment, but Bond ejects the offer and resigns from MI6 to carry out his personal mission. With his license to kill revoked, Bond boards a ship, the Wavekrest run by Sanchez’s other henchman Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) and steal five million from him. Bond enlists help from ex-CIA agent-pilot Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) to get Bond over to Republic of Isthmus, after being in a bar fight with Dario. Bond and Bouvier escape, make love, and go to Isthmus City.

Upon arrival, they encounter Q (Desmond Llewelyn) who is there to help and Sanchez’s girlfriend, Lupe Lomara (Talisa Soto), ready to betray Sanchez and give Bond insight to Sanchez’s plan. Bond decides to start learning more about the scheme by posing as an assassing looking for work, but gets his ass kicked by Hong Kong Narcotics Agents and Fallon of MI6 ready to send Bond back to the UK. Luckily, he escapes as always and enter Waveskrest to frame Krest by using the five million he stole to convince Sanchez he betrayed him. Sanchez throws him into a hyperbraic chamber and blow him up (I am not joking). Sanchez sees Bond is loyal and accepts him into his group. Bond is then taken to Sanchez’s base of operations disguised as a meditation resort, run by Prof. Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton [Yes that Wanye Netwon]) using it as a front to deal drugs. The drugs in question are cocaine that dissolve in petrol fuel to sell and disguise it to the Asian drug ring. Dario recognizes Bond from earlier and betrays him to Sanchez. Bond sets the laboratory on fire while attempting to escape, but is captured and put on a conveyor belt to be killed by a shredder. Luckily, Bouvier shows up enough to distract Dario and send him to the shredder and saves Bond. Bond alongside Bouvier take a plane to find the four tankers filled with the cocaine petrol (that is a thing now, just accept it) and destroy three of the tankers with Bond taking control of one. Sanchez begins to attack Bond on the final tanker, as it loses control and falls into the desert. Sanchez is ready to kill Bond, but Bond sees he is covered in petrol causing Bond to use the lighter Felix and Ella gave him to burn Sanchez into one crispy son of a bitch. Bond and Bouvier leave and the end…well, let’s face it, we know what happens.

Licence to Kill isn’t a bad film and I don’t find it as awful as many people claim (Entertainment Weekly called it the second worst of the franchise, but then again, Entertainment Weekly isn’t the best source). Dalton is still great and can pull off Bond with Heddison back as Leiter giving a great performance. Carey Lowell and Talisa Soto as Pam Bouvier and Lupe Lomora respectively are wonderful, with Carey Lowell shining a bit brighter to me. Robert Davi as Sanchez is just perfect, bar none. This man can pull off being the bad guy in almost anything be it as one of the Fratellis in The Goonies or being a cold hearted yet loveable bastard in this film and I love him to death (also, special mention to his iguana, which just adds to his legend). Desmond Lllewelyn as Q gets much more screen time which I feel is well deserved as he seems like the Bond ally that would be best suited to protect him, then again, I’m bias because of my love of Q. Bencio del Toro in his first role is pretty great too adding a blend of slimy asshole and suave sexiness. The action is superb, even if it is a bit too grim for some parts and the plot is well structure and moves smoothly and never bores. The only major problem with the film and it is a major one is that this feels like a great crime thriller that just happens to have James Bond in it. You can take James Bond out of it and put anybody else with the same qualities and it would be the same movie. This does not feel like the typical Bond film, but it doesn’t mean it is all bad. I can see the complaints plain and clear, but to me, it works.

The theme song by Gladys Knight is soulful, bombastic, and a delightful treat to hear. It is almost a nice throwback while being modern, for the time anyway. Expect this in my top ten favorite Bond songs. Licence to Kill, despite what others may have told you, is not as bad as they say. It perfectly pace, perfectly plotted, and well acted with great action throughout, even if it feels less like a Bond film and more like Miami Vice.

Assignment Status: 4 out of 5

Next time, six years after disputes and trying to find a way to bring Bond back to life, Pierce Brosnan steps in to tackle the role in a new vision for the series as he faces off against an old friend trying to rid the world. Also, spoiler, it is fantastic in every way.

Next Mission: GoldenEye

And yes, I’ll be talking about the Nintendo 64 game alongside it.

007 in 23: Assignment #015- The Living Daylights

ASSIGNMENT #015: The Living Daylights (1987)

With Roger Moore leaving the series coming to terms that he is too old to play the title character, someone who was once offered the role when casting for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service came in. Timothy Dalton was deemed too young for the role at the time (the age range for portraying Bond is from late 30’s to early 40’s), but with The Living Daylights and finally in his early 40’s, it was time for him to take on the role. Onto The Living Daylights…

After seeing Bond portrayed by Dalton for the first time in a teaser involving a fellow agent killed during a routine exercise, Bond is in helping aid in the defection of KGB General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe) in Czechoslovakia at a concert hall. Whilst there, Bond discovers that a KGB sniper, ready to terminate Koskov, is a cellist in the orchestra. This leads Bond to find the sniper and to kill her under orders from MI6, but refuses and merely injures her for being shoddy with a sniper. Luckily, Bond helps Koskov escape via pipeline (Mario would be proud) across the border into Austria in Q Branch where we meet the new Moneypenny (performed by the lovely Caroline Bliss), then to MI6 Headquarters in Britain. M tells Bond after the defection briefing that an old policy known as Smert Spionam aka Death to Spies (Yes, SMERCH from the classic From Russia with Love has returned) is back in effect thanks to General Puskin (John Rhys-Davies) becoming the new head of the KGB. After Bond and M leave the MI6 headquarters, a man named Necros (Andreas Wisniewski) infiltrates to take back Koskov to a safe house in Tangier, while destroying the headquarters. Bond heads to Tangier to locate Pushkin and kill him to prevent tensions between the West and the Soviet Union from rising again and discovers that the assassin had left a note with ‘Smert Spionam’ on it at the scene. Bond returns to Czechoslovakia to the cellist named Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo) to find that the defection has been staged and that Milovy is Koskov’s girlfriend and convinces her that he is Koskov’s friend to accompany her to reunite with her again, resulting in the two staring to develop chemistry. They, of course, engage (there’s that word again) in a car chase with the return of the gadget-filled Aston Martin wrecking everything up, escaping via sleding on a cello case, stay with one another, and go to a theme park in Vienna where they finally kiss. Bond meets with his MI6 ally, Saunders (Thomas Wheatley), from before in a meeting where he informs Bond that Puskin has been making deals with arms dealer Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker). Saunders leaves only to be killed by a glass door smashing by Necros, leaving a balloon once again saying ‘Smert Spionam’.

Bond and Milovy head to Tangier to face off against Pushkin as Pushkin is not aware of ‘Smert Spionam’ and reveals that Koskov has been embezzling from government funds. Bond decides to fake an assassination of Pushkin, which allows Koskov and Whitaker to forward their plans. Bond returns to Milovy where she has contacted Koskov who tells her Bond is a KGB agent and drugs him, only for Necros and Koskov to betray her, capturing them both after flying to Afghanistan to imprison them on a Soviet air base.  Bond beats the living daylights (sorry) out of the jail and save a fellow prisoner who ends up being Kamran Shah (Art Malik), a leader of the Mujahideen, the Afghan resistence. They discover that Koskov has been using the Soviet funds to distribute opium for himself while giving the rest of the profits to the Soviets to buy arms. With help of the Mujahideen, they infiltrate the Soviet air base for Bond to destroy the cargo plane with opium, but is barricaded leading Bond to fly the plane out himself to blow it to kingdom come with Milovy entering the plane by Jeep in the cargo bay. Necros sneaks on to the plane with Bond giving him the boot of the plane, leading to him to drop the bomb out of the plane to help Shah and his men win over the Soviets. Bond heads to Tangier, kills Whitaker, and sends Koskov to prison. The film ends on a happy note, with Kara Milovy becoming a popular cellist, with Bond waiting in her dressing room with two shaken, not stirred martinis ready for that classic art form known as lovemaking.

Finally, I can say I love another James Bond film. Not since The Spy Who Loved Me or For Your Eyes Only did I have a truly great time from beginning to end. For Your Eyes Only was a great 80’s Bond flick, but this film captured the essence of a 80’s Bond should be even more. Gritty and a bit dark at times, but with the action and characters that made Bond classic. Timothy Dalton is a great addition to the role of Bond, even if he seems to have the same intense face at time, but delivers with a charismatic performance oozing with some Connery-esque suave. Maryam d’Abo as Kara can be a bit grating to some, but for me, I really enjoyed her performance in this film and she is damn gorgeous, but I can see the problems. Art Malik even in his small brief scenes of dialogue is fantastic and proves to be a great ally to Bond in his achievements. The action is done really well giving one of the best chases since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with Bond proving that Q, still played by the always brilliant Desmond Llewelyn, sure knows his gadgets. The climax at the end is reminiscent of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice while providing the same thrills of The Spy Who Loved Me and Andreas Wisniewski as Nercros is a menacing presence with the silence of  Oddjob, but the intimidation and looks of Red Grant. The only true complaint about the film would be the confusion of who the exact villain is, not to say that the villains were wasted. Jeroen Krabbe and Joe Don Baker are great in the villainious roles, but who exactly was the main baddie unless I’m just idiot who can’t see that both of them are. Also, a very quick mention of John Rhys-Davies, being excellent as always. This man can appear in the biggest pile of horse dung quality films and he will still be my favorite part of it.

The theme song by a-ha is also quite good and enjoyable. I enjoy the new wave vibe to it, giving a hint at what the score for this feature will be like. Providing electronic sounds and spectacular vocals by Morten Harket, it’s a wonder on how the hell this band failed in America after ‘Take on Me’ because a-ha is an amazing group. Go check out more of their stuff right now and you won’t be disappointed. The Living Daylights is a fantastic Bond film in everyway providing the energy of The Spy Who Loved Me, the action of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice, and the tone and style of   On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It is a near-perfect film. Scope it out if you haven’t and give it a rewatch if you have seen it, it’s amazing.

Assignment Status: 4.75 out of 5

Next mission, Timothy Dalton delivers his final Bond performance (not even Lazenby got a second chance) to only get let go from MI6 to go rouge and hunt a drug lord who murder Bond’s old pal Felix Leiter’s wife. Time to head into the lowest grossing Bond feature that almost seemed like the final nail in the coffin of the Bond series.

Next Mission: Licence to Kill

007 in 23: Assignment #014- A View to a Kill

ASSIGNMENT #014: A View to a Kill (1985)

Before we get to the main review, let me take time to talk about Lois Maxwell and Roger Moore as this is their last appearances in an EON produced Bond feature in A View to a Kill. Lois Maxwell, alongside Bernard Lee, had been in the series since Dr. No in 1962 and asked for her role to be killed off in this feature, but the producer decided against it. Lois Maxwell was a gorgeous and wonderful delight as Miss Moneypenny, always there eagerly awaiting Bond to come back and make passive flirts, promising the world to her and his love. No matter the actor or the time period, Moneypenny always pleased and I enjoyed every minute of her performances throughout these features. Lois Maxwell, you have a place in my heart as one of my favorite Bond characters.

Roger Moore gets enough crap about not being as great as Connery, so I was skeptical going into his Bond features and wound up loving him. Roger Moore made Bond his own throughout his film, creating a Bond that would work in the bizarre and strange plots that surrounded him. His Bond had humor, he was a charmer who got his way no matter what, and even at his older age, could still beat the living crap out of mooks in a fist fight. As mentioned before, Moore thought his best Bond film was The Spy Who Loved Me, which I have to agree is my favorite Moore film and he delievers not only in that. I personally loved him a tad bit more in For Your Eyes Only performance wise, but to get his true essence, watch Spy Who Loved Me. Roger Moore was a fantastic Bond and even if the film was bad, I knew Moore would give that smile guaranteeing a great performance.

With that out of the way, onto the plot of View to a Kill. Bond finds the body of 003 and retrieves a microchip from the Soviets while in Siberia, while engaging in a snowboard chase (Bond snoboarding? Hell yes) to a hidden iceberg submarine. He delivers the chip back to MI6 as Q discovers it cannot be damaged by electromagnetic pulses and is owned by Zorin Industries. Bond goes to Ascot Racecourse to meet take a look at industry head Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) as his horse wins a race possibly do to drugging as MI6 operative Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) informs him. It proves negative and Bond goes about his way to Paris only to find that Zorin will be holding a horse auction within the next month thanks to French Detective Achille Aubergine (Jean Rougerie). Aubergine is assassinated by May Day (Grace Jones), a henchwoman of Zorin, with giving chase on the Eiffel Tower with her escaping via parachute. Tibbett and Bond head to the horse sale to buy a horse and flirts with a woman, but is rejected (Ouch). Luckily, it is due to Zorin paying her not to take a chance on him. Bond and Tibbett soon discover that Zorin has been putting adrenaline releasing chips into horse in order to win. Zorin and May Day get wind of this with Zorin discovering James Bond’s secret life and May Day killing Tibbett. When General Gorgol of the KGB (Walter Gotell) hears of Zorin starting to attack Bond, he informs Zorin that the KGB trained him and financed him, only for Zorin to go rouge. With this, Gorgol denies Zorin of support as Zorin tells a group of investors that he will destroy Silicon Valley to obtain a monopoly over the microchip business because apparently that is how that works. Bond heads to San Francisco to meet with CIA agent Chuck Lee (Wait…where the hell is Felix Leiter? Where the hell did he go?) that Zorin may be a by-product of experiments of steriods performed on him by Dr. Carl Mortner (Willoughbry Gray), a Nazi scientist formerly of the KGB. Bond goes to one of Zorin’s oil rigs to find Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton) recording conversations on tape, only for him to seduce her and walk out the door with the information on tape.

Bond tracks down the woman Zorin paid to reject him and comes across her in the form of Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), a geologist for California, to find Zorin is trying to buy her family oil business. They are both caught by Zorin and tossed in a elevator on fire with Bond successfully escaping and entering, you guessed it, a car chase…in San Francisco (Spoiler: It is awesome throughout). Bond and Sutton head to Zorin’s mine to discover Zorin plans to flood the San Andreas Fault and Hayward fault placing explosives on a geological lock that would cause a Big One type scenario to flood the entire city of Silicon Valley because, once again, that is how that works. Zorin blows the first set of explosives successfully while killing his mine workers. Bond and Sutton are discovered, but escape, but Sutton escapes successfully as Bond starts to fight May Day. May Day soon realizes Zorin has left her for dead and decides to help Bond get rid of the geological lock explosive out of the mine, but dies in a sacrifice to ensure the bomb would exploded successfully outside due to a faulty brake on the car. Sutton is taken onto Zorin’s airship with Bond holding onto the anchor rope as it travels above the Golden Gate Bridge. Bond moors the ariship to the bridge causing Sutton to attack to ensure the airship breaks open by hitting the framework. Zorin with axe in hand begins to fight Bond, only to be sent sleeping with the fishes. Dr. Mortner who is on the airship attmpts to light dynamite to toss it out and kill SUtton and Bond, only to juggle the damn thing and blow the airship up. Bond is thought to be missing after the explosion, but luckily Q finds them using a remote control robot and sees Bond and Sutton bathing in the shower with Q saying 007 is alive.

This movie was delightfully stupid. A View to a Kill is a bad Bond film done right. Unlike Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, and Octopussy, this manage to know its stupid and go with it. The plot is beyond stupid and the villain’s plan is unbelievably flawed, the jokes are a bit dated, Tanya Roberts can be quite annoying, but my god, the action delivers and the performances are fantastic. Moore, I said my peace at the beginning of this, he is awesome as always. Tanya Roberts is not the best Bond girl to be honest, but she is gorgeous. If you remember her, thanks That 70’s Show. Grace Jones as May Day is terrifying, but such a badass that I wish her Jaws-esque treatment was in another film and not this because I love this character  Christopher Walken as a Bond villain, need I say more? Christopher Walken is a great villain. He is calm and collective, but intimidating and dominating. Christopher Walken plays Zorin like he is about to deal with Connery’s Bond and works for SPECTRE. He is classic and I enjoyed everytime he came on screen giving it his all. I love Walken and I love this performance. The only problem is the plot is a retread of Goldfinger, only if it was done way worse. Zorin wants to control the silicon business by destroying valuable workers and factories in Silicon Valley. Who in the hell thought that was a good idea? Luckily, the film is paced well giving more to not dull the plot and story as a whole. The jokes may not work, but the chase with the police in quite hilarious with the police chief constantly getting screwed. Think J.W. Pepper, but less of an annoyance. The action and suspense is handled well and delivers moments I was on the edge of my seat for. This is the ultimate guilty pleasure film for me.

As for the theme song, I’m going to be completely bias because I love Duran Duran. I enjoy everything they’ve put out and love their songs to death. ‘A View to a Kill’ is no exception. It matches the era and the tone of the film, it’s fun and doesn’t alienate older fans. Helps that legendary Bond composer John Barry had a hand in it. I think this song is badass and I love it. A View to a Kill is bad, but I can’t help but enjoy it. Roger Moore personally disliked this film and I can see why, as can many others, but I might have to say it is a favorite. Check it out and draw your own opinion.

Assignment Status: 2.75 out of 5

Next mission, Timothy Dalton comes in as Bond to take down a KGB general across Europe and the Middle East after letting him get away. The Eighties Bond are almost done.

Next Mission: The Living Daylights

007 in 23: Assignment #013- Octopussy

ASSIGNMENT #013: Octopussy (1983)

Let’s talk about this terrible film. I think this is the worst of the James Bond franchise and to be perfectly honest, I lost interest in this film I don’t remember what goes on it and just wanted it to be over. I know I said I wouldn’t do this to another film, but this is one of the worst films I’ve seen alongside Diamonds Are Forever in the franchise. The plot is setup is pretty stupid being that a Faberge egg and many other relics are being stolen by a thief named Octopussy to be used by the Soviets in exchange for nuclear weapons to attack NATO forces. I, in fact, turned off this film around the one hour and thirty minute mark because I was bored and the jokes just didn’t work. I gave it as much as a chance as I could and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. Sure, there are some films that are so bad, they are good which this is considered by many, but this one didn’t do it for me and I love The Room.

Most of the complaints are the same complaints I had with the other bad films I reviewed in the franchise. Some of the action is awful, plot is wretched,  and it is boring as all hell beating out Thunderball for me. There really is no saving grace for this film. Edgar Wright, director of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Shaun of the Dead, enjoys this film on a ‘bad, yet good’ level, which I can see why. Bond swinging from branch to branch while Tarzan sounds are playing to Bond escaping via mechanical crocodile are pretty odd moment that will have you scratching your head, but when the wrap around story to it all is a waste, they feel like a waste. Not to say there aren’t some highlights.

I did get a kick out of the chase that takes place in the streets of India is pretty fun and reminds me of why I enjoyed Temple of Doom providing a few fun moments, such as someone getting tossed on a bed of spikes resulting in the person laying before the incident to say “Get off my bed”. That got a pretty good chuckle out of me. I do like the return of Maud Adams from The Man with the Golden Gun who pulls off a wonderful performance as Octopussy. Roger Moore is always wonderful as Bond, so no ill-will. The villain, Kamal Khan, played by Louis Jourdan didn’t leave a lasting impression and I really found him just to be there for the sake of villainy. The side characters feel like an afterthought and don’t give anything, with the exception of Q, Moneypenny, and the new M played by Robert Brown.

My overall problem was the story that seem to be grabbed the first plot written on a note in a fishbowl and the rest of the action besides the India chase just fell flat for me. I truly despise this film because it doesn’t deliver the thrill For Your Eyes Only gave us with hope for a return to the series’ root or the fun that The Spy Who Loved Me delivered ensuring that humor can live in this series. Octopussy didn’t work for me, but it might work for someone else in a ‘So Bad, It’s Good’ way. This is just my opinion and you don’t have to agree, but I would probably skip this one.

How’s the theme? It isn’t one of my favorites and is a bit too cheesy, soft rock-esque and generic than I would like for a James Bond film. Luckily, it isn’t one of the worst I’ve heard. Rita Coolidge has a pretty voice, but I don’t think it is suited for Bond film status, but on its own, it’s pretty okay. Octopussy is a serious blow to the franchise with a dumb premise, dull action, and forgetting everything that made the previous film a joy to watch.

Assignment Status: 1 out of 5

Next time, Roger Moore ends his long time run as James Bond as he is up against Christopher Walken in a film I think succeeds at being ‘So Bad, It’s Good’.

Next Assignment: A View to a Kill

007 in 23: Assignment #012- For Your Eyes Only

ASSIGNMENT #012: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Before I we start, time to mention Bernard Lee as M. Bernard Lee was wonderful in this series as M, being the guiding light to Bond by providing missions and looking out for our hero, but also pulling off any scene he was in. Bernard Lee sadly succumbed to stomach cancer before the filming of For Your Eyes Only. Bernard Lee was M from 1962 to 1979 and gave a lasting impression upon Bond fans. Out of respect, the producers decided not to recast the role in this film and wait till a future Bond film, which would be Octopussy. Rest in peace, Bernard Lee, the legendary M.

The films opens with Bond visiting the grave of his wife Teresa ‘Tracy’ Bond, the second time the death of his wife from OHMSS is mentioned, setting up Bond getting his revenge on Blofeld by getting in a remote helicopter and tossing him down a smoke stack. After that big middle finger to Kevin McClory’s dispute over Thunderball and the Blofeld character, Bond is called to investigate the sinking of a spy boat, St. Georges, which had the ATAC (Automatic Tracking Attack Communicator) and take it before the Soviets use it for their own needs. Meanwhile, a marine archaeologist, Sir Timothy Havelock (Jack Hedley), has been asked by British Intelligence to locate the sunken ship, but is murdered alongside his wife by Cuban hitman, Hector Gonzales (Stefan Kalipha), in front of his daughter, Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet). Bond goes to find more information about Gonzales and the person who hired him for the hit at his villa in Spain as Gonzales is killed before revealing anything. It is here Bond meets up with Melina and they both escape in one hell of a car chase. Bond and Q team to indentify the mind using a identifier machine and stumble upon Emile Leopold Locque and head to Italy to investigate his base. As he arrives, he meets up with Luigi Ferrara (John Moreno) and businessman and informant Aris Kristatos (Julian Glover) that Locque was hired by former partner Milos Columbo (Chaim Topol billed as Topol). Bond also meets Kristatos protegee, amateur figure skater Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson from Ice Castles) and comes across fellow athlete Erik Kriegler (John Wyman) who chases Bond to kill him. Bibi also attempts to seduce Bond, but Bond refuses, showing Bond doesn’t mess around with barely legal girls. He heads to an ice rink with Ferrara to say bye to Bibi, until he is caught in a trap. He leaves and find Farrara dead in his car with a white dove in hand, the symbol of Columbo. Bond starts to head out and find Columbo by meeting with Kristatos, which their conversation is being recorded by Columbo, and Columbo mistress Countess Lisl von Schlaf (Cassandra Harris).

Schlaf reveals that Columbo knows James Bond’s identity and makes love to her, only for her to be killed the next day by an assassin named Aportis (Jack Klaff). Bond is nearly attacked, until Columbo’s men arrive and take him. Upon meeting Columbo, Columbo reveals he is not the one who hired the hit but rather Kristatos, playing Bond for a fool, as Kristatos is working for the KGB. Columbo and Bond team up to destroy one of Kristatos’ opium warehouses and Bond stumbles upon similar mines that sunk St. Georges. Bond meet Melina after the base attack and both find the wreck of the St. Georges to recover the ATAC with Kristatos above waiting for them. He captures them, takes the ATAC, and sends them to the sharks (never killer whales). As they escape, they overhear a parrot who heard Kristatos conversation of ‘ATAC to St. Cyrill’s’, leading Melina, Columbo and his men, and Bond into Kristato’s hideout. After an intense mountain climbing scene, Bond saves the day in a climatic battle, kicks the living crap out of anyone that attacks him, and obtains the ATAC. Melina is at the ready to take her revenge out on Kristatos, only for Columbo to toss a knife to his back, giving satisfaction to Melina. Of course, the film ends with Bond making love in front of a parrot talking to the prime minister. No, I’m not going to explain it, just going to write it out and leave you to wonder.

This is Roger Moore’s second best film, right up there with The Spy Who Loved Me giving a more grounded in reality feel that made From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service great. The plot is fantastically told, the pacing is perfect, and the acting is better than the previous film and thank God there are only a few stupid moments with the exception of the horrible teaser. The producers seemed to have realized that some jokes just don’t work. Topol and Julian Glover are the highlights of the film acting wise and turn out to be great addition on both the good side and the villainous side with Glover succeeding as an intimidating villain. Carole Bouquet as Melina is also a great Bond girl and actually harkens back to what made Anya in Spy Who Loved great as a woman with a revenge to complete and willing to kick some ass like Pussy Galore to Connery’s Bond. Roger Moore actually grows as an actor in this film by giving more depth to his version of Bond. My only gripes with this film is the teaser at the beginning for being one of the dumbest ‘screw yous’ to anyone and its on film, thanks to Kevin McClory’s lawsuit over Thunderball.  The other is the performance of Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi, which is grating, but I can ignore all of this because this film doesn’t get destroyed by these minor problems. For Your Eyes Only is not only a treat for the eye, but for strong storytelling, dazzling performances, and going back to what made the franchise great.

The theme song for this film is remarkable. Sheena Easton provides a soulful yet poppy song that is memorable and just gorgeous in every way. I truly love it and if I had to list the best Bond themes, it be in the top 10 for sure.

Assignment Status: 4 out of 5

Next time, Bond goes on involving jewel thieves, nuclear missles, disguises, and Octopussy. I still do not know how a porn parody hasn’t been made yet with this title.

Next Mission: Octopussy

007 in 23: Assignment #011- Moonraker

ASSIGNMENT #011: Moonraker (1979)

In 1977 when The Spy Who Loved Me was released, it stated that James Bond would return in For Your Eye Only, which was quickly put aside for a later date thanks to going with Moonraker as their next film. Why? Because a little science fiction film released changed everything. What was that film?

Yes, Star Wars. I guess I picked a good day to watch this film and make this review dated since Disney just bought Lucasfilm and everything it practically own, including Star Wars. Moonraker was made to cash in on the new craze that is space opera action. As much as I love Star Wars, I will blame it for making the second worst film of the franchise. Of course, plot first, then review later.

The Moonraker space shuttle, owned by Drax Industries, is hijacked and it is up for James Bond to go investigate. As he heads via plane to Drax Industries, Jaws appears to attack Bond, but Bond steals a parachute and escapes saving. Jaws, on the other hand, lands on a circus tent and survives because that’s how he rolls. Bond heads to Drax Industries shuttle-manufacturing area to meet Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), his henchman, Chang (Toshiro Suga) and eventually Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles). Bond is nearly killed in a centrifuge chamber by G-forces, but escapes. Bond finds blueprints of a glass vial in Venice thanks to Corinne Dufour (Corinne Clery), ends another taking of his life, and Dufour is killed by Drax for failing. Bond catches up with Goodhead, only to engage in a canal chase with Jaws at the helm, and ends with Bond driving a gondola hovercraft, providing one of the stupidest things I’ve seen in my life. Bond learns that the glass vials contain nerve gas and gets in a fight with Chang, kills him, and goes on to find that Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janerio. Goodhead is revealed to be a CIA agent spying on Drax and this film turns into Spy Who Loved Me 2.0. 

They head to Rio for Bond where Jaws, once more, to attack Bond and Goodhead in a cable car and Jaws get screwed over, only to survives because that is still how Jaws rolls. Jaws falls (for some reason) for a young girl named Dolly who saves him. Q informs Bond that the nerve gas is from a rare orchid which Bond goes to find in the Amazon jungle. He engages in yet another chase with Jaws on the Amazon river ending in Jaws giving the most hilarious ‘Oh Crap’ face in the series as head ends down a waterfall. Bond then follows a strange girl which leads him to Drax’s new facility, only to get, you guessed it, caught in a trap. He is a regular April O’Neil at this point. Bond is taken to Drax and see that six Moonraker shuttles, one which Bond and Goodhead steal, headed to a secret space station Drax owns, which is pretty odd consider it would be quite hard to hide a giant space station. Drax reveals his plan to destroy the human race on Earth by launching a deadly toxin throughout as he has taken who he deemed as the perfect men and women on board to create a master race making Drax essentially Space Hitler. Bond uses this to get Jaws and Dolly to go on the good side and it works incredibly well to his advantage as Jaws takes out to of Drax henchmen. As Drax launches the toxin globes to Earth, Bond manages to jam them to destroy them as space marines come an engage in the shameless Star Wars rip off action scene. Bond beats Drax, escapes with Goodhead to Earth thanks to Jaws, and how do you think it ends with old fashioned boning…IN SPAAAACE!

This movie sucked in every since of the word. The action is dull, the set pieces are dull, it is just a dull movie. It was a chore to sit through and I lost interest a good half hour into the film because I just didn’t care. The film was done better in the previous film, The Spy Who Loved Me, as this is essentially the same film with space instead of the ocean, a worst actress playing the female agent, a retread of the same villain type played still by a great actor, but is just done all poorly. I hated this film and was miserable watching it, with the exception of Jaws. Jaws saves this film doing the opposite of what J.W. Pepper in Man with Golden Gun by saving an entire film, but that alone isn’t enough. Sadly, Jaws is out of the film series for good, but not the video game series if you play the classic multiplayer (more on that in GoldenEye).

As theme songs go by Shirley Bassey, this isn’t her best effort, but even her best effort is good enough. It nearly makes up for the film and is gorgeous as hell to listen to.

Moonraker shoots for the moon, but winds up in the sun to burn up due to being the dullest film and second worst film in the franchise, right after Diamonds are Forever.

Assignment Status: 1.75 out of 5

Next time, Bond goes on a mission that takes him into dealing with an old rival and a woman seeking revengence (revenge with a vengence) for the murder of her parents. Time to go back to Earth in an assignment for Bond’s eye only.

Next Mission: For Your Eyes Only

007 in 23: Assignment #010- The Spy Who Loved Me

ASSIGNMENT #010: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

As British and Soviets submarines suddenly disappear, James Bond 007 is called to investigate, all while he is busy escaping Soviet agents in a ski chase in Austria, killing one, and jumping off a cliff to fly with a Union Jack parachute guiding him to safety. Bond finds out about a submarine tracking system that has hit the black market in Eygpy. Bond goes to investigate when he bumps into Soviet KGB agent Anya Amasova (Barbara, codenamed Triple XXX (and thankfully does not look like Vin Diesel) and must team up thanks to an alliance form by the British and Soviets. As they investigate in Eygpt looking for a microfilm explaining the system, they come across the metal teeth giant assassin named Jaws (Richard Kiel), an henchman of scientist and shipping tycoon Stromberg (Curd Jurgens) who has ties to the theft of the tracking system. Stromberg is obsessed with the ocean to the point that he has a hideout in the middle of it called Atlantis. Bond and Anya start to travel by train, but are attacked by Jaws. Bond, of course, fights Jaws, tosses him out, and earns the heart of Anya. They visit Stromberg’s base to discover his super tanker Liparus, to which Bond and Anya engage in a car chase with Jaws back to seek vengence. The car chase quickly ends when Bond, in his new Lotus Espirit provided by Q (Desmond Llewelyn), takes it off the cliff and into the water to reveal it is also a submarine vehicle. They take advantage of this to further investigate Stromberg’s facilities as they find out the super tanker Stromberg owns has never ported. The mission almost rears its ugly head when Anya finds out Bond killed her lover, the agent from the teaser, in Austria and promises to kill Bond after the mission is officially over.

As the agents go to a makeshift headquarters on a American submarine, they decide to go deeper into Atlantis and find that Stromberg does indeed have the tracking device for his Liparus super tanker to obtain the submarines that have disappeared. He plans to use nuclear missile aboard the subs to attack both Russia and the United States and escalate into a World War III to build an underwater civilization. They leave and Bond saves the captured crew from the submarines captured into a full scale battle against Stromberg’s super tanker workers. As the submarines are taken out to sea by Stromberg, Bond arranges the subs to attack one another instead of the cities, succeeding, and causing the biggest and somehow not as destructive as it should be mushroom cloud. Everyone escapes the Liparus successfully as it sinks to the bottom on in a blaze. Bond heads to Atlantis to kill Stromberg, defeat Jaws by tossing him into a shark pit, saves Anya, and destroy Atlantis once again. They escape in a escape pod (no crap) where Anya pulls a gun on Bond as he prepares the champagne. Anya fires…popping the champagne and forgives Bond as they make sweet music and are seen by their superiors when they are recovered, but close the blinds for privacy. Luckily, Jaws survives to live on swimming towards the sunset to get his revenge on Bond.

This was a fun one and I mean it with the deepest admiration for it. Roger Moore considers this his best and it is not hard to see why. It combines the elements that made the Connery films great from a story standpoint, all the fun and excitement of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the comedic moments that the first two Roger Moore Bond films tried to introduce and adds it to the mix with better results. Roger Moore is great, ‘nough said. Barbara Bach as Anya is quite good and a fine addition to the series as an agent who is just as smart and brilliant as Bond and the perfect woman to be alongside him. Curd Jurgens as Stromberg is a strong presence with what he is given, seems to know what he wants, will stop at nothing to get it, and might be a favorite of mine. Richard Kiel as Jaws…I love this character, I really do. He may be quiet, he may be a menace  but he might be a gentle giant if you knew him, but will still kill you regardless. The fact that he keeps coming back, kills a shark just by biting him to death, and lives to tell the tale is worth enough praise in himself.

The action is stellar from the car chase ro the opening teaser to the climax battle. It is a step up from the first two Moore film in every way by not being forgettable or destroyed by one character at the helm. The car chase is the true highlight with a thrilling chase by the ocean side as you wait for the car to jump off the cliff and enter the ocean to escape, but are greeted by near misses and gun fights. I loved it. The only complaint of the film is how it drags immediately after the climax for a good ten minutes. Usually this would be minor, but it stops the film completely and it takes you out of it, but once the submarines get out, it becomes all good again.

The theme song ‘Nobody Does It Better’ by Carly Simon is gorgeous and stunning. Carly Simon, one of the greatest voices in existence, doing a Bond song is the equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter. A magnificent love song and beautiful. One of my favorites. The Spy Who Loved Me is the best of Moore’s time and brings back the excitement of Bond that was missing from the past three films with top notch action, great performances, a plot that isn’t overdone, and blending comedic moments without ruining the action.

Assignment Status: 4.5 out of 5

Next time, James Bond heads to space. What more do you need? Possibly a sentence I never thought I would write. This is going to hurt.

Next Mission: Moonraker