For Your Eyes Only: Roger
127min, Action, 1981
I’ve always said that there really hasn’t been a bad Bond film. Nope they’re all good. Sure we have a few weak ones, but over 50 years that’s pretty damn unbelievable.
Roger is a fun Bond to watch. But he did seem to get old for the part, to the point I believe they should of started over. For Your Eyes Only should of been the last for him. Because I honestly think this is one of his strongest films and I believe you should always go out when your on top. To give you an idea, after this was Octopussy (1983) and then A View to a Kill (1985) (his final). So yeah should of left on FYEO, but hey it is what it is so…
Intro: Don’t care for that intro. Could of been better, really so much better. Blofeld killed Bond’s wife, should of been a better revenge intro…Thou the song is pretty good. In fact its so good it still plays on the radio to this day!
The first half of For Your Eyes Only is a bit weak but the last half is Roger at his top. Roger is everything but a serious Bond, but here he gets there a little bit. It is his Bond’s most serious and I like that.
The film has some thrilling scenes in it. The two big ones are the Ski Chase and Cliff Climbing sequence. Before this was Moonraker, which is what it is. It was a big film with big special effects. For Your Eyes Only went back to the realistic approach and that felt refreshing.
I picked Roger as my word because when I watch this film he’s the one that really pulls everything together. This is do to the some what serious approach we get from Roger’s Bond and I like that. Also when you look at that poster the first thing you notice is Roger, right? Yeah that would be a little sarcasm.
Dr. No: Historic
First Bond Appearance
Villain: Dr. Julius No
Bond Girl(s): Honey Ryder
So here it is, the film that started a strong 50 year film franchise. Without this film who knows where the state of movies would be these days. This film is historic and its a damn good film.
Why is this film historic? Well the film had every odd against it and its amazing it even got made. Even if you might not like it, you would have to admit it is historic.
Dr. No is a fantastic film, might not be my number one but it is up there. The story is good, again not the greatest nor the weakest. The films villain is Dr. Julius No (Is that a badass name or what?) His look and accent for me hit every note one could hope for. He sets the bar very high right out of the gate. To make a film is difficult on so many levels to begin with, but to make a film a classic is something wonderful. Production is second to none (Thanks Ken Adam). Music is great and Terence Young creates a wonderful formula.
There are a hand full of classic scenes, one of course is Honey Ryder’s out of the water shot. You know it if you have seen the film or not, that’s how classic it is. It really boggles my mind how they came up with so many classic introduction scenes in this film. From the first introduction of these characters to the viewer is simply amazing. But the best is Bond’s. The way this is shot is perfect. Here we have one of the most historic characters of all time and they shoot it 100% perfect. First you hear of “some guy” named James Bond and you don’t see him. We are at a casino and all you see first of him is his hands. Then his back. Then his hands again, this time tossing the cards as he kicks ass at the table. He asks the lady’s name then she asks his name. Now you see his face for the first time as he says,
“Bond, James Bond”
Cue the music as he lights up a cigarette…
and so it begins!
Casino Royale – Classy
If it wasn’t for my co-reviewer, DJ Valentine, I might not have posted another Bond review for the rest of the month. As I briefly touched on in my “Skyfall” review, I’m not the biggest James Bond fan. Not saying he hasn’t gotten into some great adventures in exotic locales, with sexy Bond Girls, but the spy-espionage-adventure genre isn’t one of my favorites. But when you get the perfect storm of directing, writing, and acting, that’s something that I can appreciate and enjoy, and calling “Casino Royale” classy would be an understatement.
First, all the people calling for Daniel Craig to call it quits when it comes to Bond; quiet, please. Unless you just woke up yesterday Craig had shown his acting chops before playing the newly-promoted 00 Agent. Please check out “Layer Cake” and you will see what I mean. He had charm, charisma, and was still a dick to women, all common traits of our favorite secret agent.
Second, Martin Campbell knows how to shoot action scenes. “Goldeneye” is my favorite Bond film from the modern era.* It had great action in which you can easily suspend disbelief, a very likable Bond, and interesting villains. Plus, the movie moves swiftly and exposition didn’t weigh it down too heavily.
Last, and most importantly, the writing. Cheesy writing will put anyone in a tift, but if it’s done correctly with the right actors doing the talking, it can be easily forgivable. Paul Haggis, from “Crash” fame, does wonderfully as the third wheel of the screenplay which includes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (the screenwriting duo from “Goldeneye” to “Skyfall”). You can tell who wrote the best dialogue in this film.
All this praise and I’ve forgotten to say anything about “Casino Royale.” Don’t get this Bond re-boot confused with the 1960s “Casino Royale” there is nothing really in common outside of the name and the fact that there are about five different James Bonds, oh, and Orson Welles, but I digress. The film follows a younger, sprier, more naive Bond, who is out to stop a network of terrorists and their mysterious accountant, Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen (in my opinion he should have used his real name in the film, it sounds a lot more bad ass then Le Chiffre). Unlike “Skyfall,” “Casino Royale” gives me what I want in an action movie. Sure, there are some scenes in the movie that are over the top, but I never really thought anything was too out of bounds, even the incredible free-running opening action set piece that takes place in Madagascar didn’t make me suspend too much disbelief. There are your typical double-crosses, moments of danger for Bond and his fellow Bond Girl Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green, and globe-trotting from Miami, Montenegro, and everywhere in-between. The supporting cast is strong with Judi Dench and Giancarlo Giannini leading the way, but I would liked to have seen a little more Jeffrey Wright, even though he does take a larger role in “Quantum of Solace,” the continuation to “Royale.”
The stripped down style of this new Bond is welcome respite from the over-the-top Pierce Brosnan films (namely “The World is Not Enough” and “Die Another Day”) and there are rarely any moments that I would take away from “Casino Royale.” It brings the class back to the 007 Universe where its short on the one-liners and long on the witty dialogue. You could argue that this Bond hasn’t developed his signature one-liners yet, and I can’t say I really missed them (I am partial to “No more foreplay” however).
Bottom line, I think the reason I like “Royale” so much is the fact that it doesn’t feel like a Bond film, just a great action movie with stunning set pieces in a world where Batman might reside. It’s dark, gritty, brooding, and did I mention classy as hell. There was no need to make it artsy and harken back to the Bond days of yore. Sure you get the Aston Martin, but no fetishizing a car and playing a sprawling soundtrack as it leaves a garage…..cough….cough….Skyfall. Stick to the basics; hot women, action that doesn’t make me roll my eyes (too much) and a good story with some dialogue I can sink my teeth into. You get all this and more with “Casino Royale.”
Fun Fact: Mikkelsen, who will be playing a young Dr. Hannibal Lecter for NBC in 2013, had Giannini in his pocket in “Royale.” Oddly enough, Giannini was one of Lecter’s victims in 2001’s “Hannibal.”
*I count the Modern Bond era from 1995-Current.
The only character that positively stands out is Pam Bouvier, played by Carey Lowell. She is strong willed, able to handle herself, and serves a purpose to the story. She has very good chemistry with Dalton, and even though her character’s affinity for Bond feels rushed, the payoff for their romance isn’t. I can’t say any of those things for her Bond girl co-star Talisa Soto. Lupa Lamora is easily my least favorite Bond girl of all time. She is just a put upon, abused, weakling of a character. Does Bond try and rescue her from Sanchez’s clutches? No, not really. Does Bond try and rescue at all? No, not really. So, why does she love Bond? Um…because. Does she have a defining moment in the film? Lying to cover Bond’s ass. Well, does she ever stand up to Sanchez and get revenge for his earlier beatings of her? If you don’t count the lying then…um..HEY, LOOK OVER THERE!
License To Kill is one of the most LACKLUSTER Bond films ever made. It is a shame that this would be Dalton’s final Bond. To go out on this note sullies all the great work he put in with the character. Sing along with Gladys…or even Patti…and if you watch it…and disagree…please tell me where the hell I’m wrong.
Lets face it. Die Another Day sucked. I haven’t reviewed it yet, but in case I don’t get a chance to, let me save you the suspense. Die Another Day sucked. James Bond deserved better than that. At the time, 007 was hit by a perfect storm. Pierce Brosnan was getting too old for the role, producers thought Bond should compete with and emulate the extreme sports sci-fi spy film xXx, while they underestimated the the rise of Jason Bourne. It didn’t take them long to rectify those mistakes. Eon Productions decided to not only recast Bond, but reboot the series with a more gritty and REALISTIC feel. Bond’s beginnings is Casino Royale. And it is f*#king awesome. Wait, that isn’t a very professional review of it. So, let me just say that Casino Royale reinvents the James Bond formula and world with an amazing flourish that extends the franchise’s cinematic life for decades to come. But honestly, it is f*#king awesome.
So, who do you recast Bond with? You have to give it to the producers of the franchise. They are not afraid to shake things up a bit. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan are as similar to each other as members of The Muppets. But no other Bond in history has been criticized and scrutinized more than Daniel Craig. Even to this day. People lost their minds over his hair, his thin acting resume, and his rugged looks. So much so, there were online petitions to have him removed. In retrospect, these critics of Craig were not understanding the central point of Casino Royale. Casino Royale is essentially the origin story of James Bond. He isn’t suave yet. He isn’t debonair. He isn’t the man who always has a plan. He is just a cold-blooded killing machine. If I can’t capture my target, I’ll kill him instead. I might beat you in a fight, but not without receiving my fair share of damage. I’d rather just skip the secret identity crap and get right to the bad guy confrontation. Craig fits that role to a tee, in my opinion. Craig is what a REAL secret agent would probably look like. Not some pretty boy underwear model who uses as much skin moisturizer as he does bullets. A man who has been in a few scrapes and survived. A man who has just qualified to be a double-0, but not a seasoned one. Oh, and despite his, then, thin resume, Daniel Craig had acting chops that were on par with or better than any other Bond before him. He has plenty of range, and shows it off in this film.
Director Martin Campbell knocked GoldenEye out of the park. But the odds were in his favor. Craig casting controversy made this film an underdog from the start. On top of that, Casino Royale did not have as many action beats as his previous outing. So, it would have been easy for the film to feel flat and tedious. However, Campbell makes Royale anything but. A scene where six guys are sitting around a table feels as compelling as a car chase or a shootout. He directs the Paul Haggis script with perfection and gives the movie the ‘Almost Bond’ feel it needs. I just love how we start to get hints of a typical Bond feel in scenes, but are suddenly pulled back because we aren’t there yet. You see, James isn’t James until the last five minutes. Campbell, Craig, Haggis and even composer David Arnold all knew that. Critics didn’t grasp it until now.
In every Bond review I’ve done so far, I have talked about the validity of the Bond girls in each film. I’ve differentiated them by how weak they are as characters. How much of a pawn they are for the villain or Bond or both. I’ve said that the stronger the Bond girl, the brighter 007 shines. And, for me, there is no stronger Bond girl in the entire series than Vesper Lynd. She is my ultimate Bond girl, hands down. She is beautiful, she is smart, she is witty, and most importantly, she is the one Bond girl 007 can’t read, can’t play, can’t impress. At every point where you think Bond has figured her out, Vesper throws him for a loop. And SPOILER ALERT…this is probably the only instance where the Bond girl makes Bond a pawn in the plot of the story. She is not the typical, “I just met you five minutes ago, but I love you James” weakling most Bond girls are. James and Vesper’s relationship feels REAL. It feels earned. Eva Green is amazing in this film. Her chemistry with Craig is perfect and the range of emotions she displays throughout this film always floors me. You can actually see her fall in love with James and instantly regret it.
If there is a weakness Casino Royale has, it is the villain. Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre isn’t bad by any means. The plot just doesn’t allow for a satisfying final confrontation between Bond and Le Chiffre. Casino Royale is thinking bigger than that. It is setting up a more dangerous organization along the lines of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. during Connery’s run. And because the reveal of this mysterious organization has not been immediate, Royale’s set up for it feels unfulfilled. Again, this is a small weakness seeing as the main focus of Casino Royale is Bond. Everything else falls to the wayside.
Casino Royale is not just a successful reboot of a franchise. It is a well made, well acted, Bond film that set the bar high for every Bond film to come. I’m especially thankful to it because it completely washed the taste of Die Another Day out of my mouth. Seriously, that movie sucks. Sing along with Chris Cornell…stop touching your ear…go all in…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.