Tuesday, 30 August 2011

While you were gone, the Globetrotters held a press conference informing everyone that I was a jive sucker.

I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the utterly daffy Octopussy, and also the rather unloved View to a Kill, which has some good moments, particularly Christopher Walken's scenery-chewing and the fire truck chase with nearly-sixty Roger Moore doing great but obviously finding the going tough enough that he retired from the role.
The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill represent the much-unloved Timothy Dalton's take on Bond and are both good entries in the series, but Dalton's playing the role closer to the source material alienated many of those brought up on the movie Bond. He's actually pretty great in the role, however, particularly in Licence To Kill where I'm convinced the way he plays it reveals a massive double-bluff being played on the audience with the whole "Bond is out for revenge!" premise, as Dalton's Bond deliberately harks back to the murder of Bond's own wife to forshadow why the character would feel the need for revenge against Robert Davi's Sanchez when regular Bond action-buddy Felix is grievously wounded and unable to exact revenge himself for the death of his bride on their wedding day, yet Bond always found revenge against Blofeld unfulfilling and his quest here thus seems rather unlikely as anything other than a massive ploy to put him in front of his target with a background as an "ex-secret service agent" as the perfect cover, with the added bonus of deniability if the yanks ever come sniffing around wondering why this uppity limey is sticking his nose in their business.
I recall Goldeneye being a lot better than it actually is, though perhaps this was relief at the time that Bond wasn't outdated by the collapse of the Soviet Union as many had suggested, even though the Soviets were never the direct threat in any of the Bond films - even in Goldeneye the true villains are a rogue general and MI6 agent. I also don't quite get what's happening in the pre-credits bit where the general has Bean's character at gunpoint and Bond is in the process of peacefully surrendering when the general shoots Bean so Bond goes back behind cover and the general demands he come out despite the fact he's just shot his only bargaining tool while his demands were being met, and Bean's character we know is a traitor in cahoots with the general who's just shot him, so what is going on there? Do they actually want Bond to escape and tell the world Bean's character is dead? I just didn't follow the plan at all.
There's some great bits like the St Petersburg tank/car chase, but the bit where the Mig crashes into the satellite dish looks like someone's thrown one toy at another. Famke Jansen's Xenia Onatopp is a great turn, and Bean's alright, but plays it too smarmy to be convincing as a threat even though the scraps with him and Bond are brief and brutal.
Tomorrow Never Dies was pretty great, with good action sequences like the motorbike/helicopter chase and pre-credits sequence, but Michelle Yeoh disappoints with the laughably incompetent Wei Lin, who sets off alarms and gets captured by villains with a regrettable ease that undermines her action girl credibility even more than her lacklustre solo fight scene that isn't a patch on what Yeoh's done in her Hong Kong-based film career in flicks like Heroic trio and Police Story 3. The villain is also a bit weak, but at least his motivation - while daffy - is pretty original.

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