My last cinema visit to watch a Bond film was the execrable Die Another Day, an experience so wretched that I vowed not to ever risk it again. DVD’s of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (a film best watched immediately after Casino…, to which it is a postscript) later, and I was ready to reassess that vow.
Daniel Craig’s Bond is a more gritty portrayal than any since the early Connery and there is a nice mix of old and new. Here, after a breathtaking opening chase sequence, there is a change of pace as Bond disappears, presumed dead, and the focus shifts to M and the repercussions of the failure of Bond’s ‘final’ mission.
When MI6 is attacked, in a manner that suggests a personal vendetta against M, Bond returns to aid his boss. The standard globetrotting investigations ensue, at one point including a close encounter with Komodo Dragons, and a closer encounter with Berenice Marlohe’s Severine, until Bond unearths this film’s villain, Javier Bardem’s Silva. Much has been made of Silva but no-one else seems to see the likeness that jumped out at me, The League of Gentlemen’s Herr Lipp. Maybe it’s just me that sees it.
The film concludes with a siege sequence in the Scottish highlands that evokes Fleming’s Bond (read more thanthirty years ago) more effectively than I’ve seen before and the film wraps up in a way that sets up the franchise for years to come.
Best Bond ever? Possibly, though my personal preference is still for Casino Royale, with honourable mentions for Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.