I remember when I was a kid, Dad used to take me for English movies especially Bond movies as those were his favorite too. Ian Fleming’s James Bond movies complete 50 years and I thought of no better way to watch it than to take Dad for this one. I am happy I took him because he got to witness the birth of a new James Bond.
Daniel Craig reveals the more human side of the invincible MI6 agent, an agent who bleeds, gets emotional, is not scared to show his attachment for his boss ‘M’ and for the first time reveals his family background in 50 years. The movie advocates and reminisces the olden days and the old ways. This intent is revealed quite early in the plot when Bond’s partner Eve watches him shave with an old-fashioned cut-throat razor implying that “old ways are the best”.
The movie starts with a signature Daniel Crag chase sequence trying to recover a hard drive from a professional assassin. The first 10 minutes really set the tempo going and the high adrenaline chase which starts on foot, cars, motor-cycles culminates on top of a train in a brilliant finale which sets the mood for the rest of the movie. The plot revolves around tracking a mysterious buyer who is buying MI6 secrets and challenging the secret service at every step. Without revealing the plot much, ‘M’ has a more substantial role in this one, who is questioned by the new age politicians about her agency’s old ways, while she keeps Bond on her toes despite his questionable attitude and fitness after he fails to track him down in Istanbul, Turkey. Like all bond movies this one takes us to the streets of Istanbul, high rise buildings of Shanghai, casinos of Macau, London underground and finally the castles of Scotland.
Daniel Craig has always been my favorite bond. His love for one on one fights of settling a score has been exploited to the fullest in this outing of him as James Bond. He shows a vulnerable side to James which no other actor who worked as Bond has ever revealed. For the first time he revisits his past and connects with his roots giving insight into his inner demons and as ‘M’ aptly puts it in “Orphans always make the best agents”. Dame Judi Dench as ‘M’ has a much meatier role than any previous series and seems more like a mother figure to her agents, protecting them besides their shortcomings. Naomie Harris should be catapulted to fame with her portrayal of the latest Bond Girl, and though she is brilliant in all sequences, the scene to watch out for is when she gives Bond a shave with a cut-throat razor.
Javier Bardem as the villain Silva is an intelligent and sinister strategist (being an ex MI6 agent himself) and his first face to face meeting with ‘M’ is simple but hair-raising. Bardem’s character though owns an island has not been portrayed larger than life and believes he and Bond are the last “2 Rats” (agents) standing. I did quite notice Bardem modeling himself on the character of Joker played by late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Ben Whishaw (hadn’t heard of him before this) as Q changes all moulds of his precedents and is a geeky, computer genius Quarter Master (Q). His statement to Bond that he can do more damage sitting in front of his computer in his pajamas gets us ready for the future Q to come. Albert Finney as the castle caretaker, and Ralph Fiennes, the one taking over as the boss of MI6 play small but pivotal roles. Director Sam Mendes has done brilliantly to bring out the chemistry amongst Bond, ‘M’ and Silva.
Now, James Bond is not given a car in this movie, but that is the good part. It’s good as he borrows the old Aston Martin D5 (used in Goldfinger) from a garage and puts it to good use. The Aston Martin is the surprise package of the movie and completes the belief advocated that “old ways are the best”. At one point of time you can see Bond jokingly toying with the ejection seat button when ‘M’ is in the passenger seat. Seeing the D5 being used after ages did lend a feeling of nostalgia to me and a fitting tribute to 50 years as James Bond and his Cars have always been inseparable.
For me Bond has changed over the past 50 years, he has become more mature, emotional, less dependent on gadgets and more importantly “human”. There has been a lot of Bond bashing by some critics after the release of Skyfall but for me this was one of the greatest Bond movies. This movie has set a precedent for a new James Bond we would be witnessing in the future.