A beautiful batch of memories (the present-day in-colour intro is a nice touch) gorgeously shot, lovingly soundtracked, and wonderfully performed. The sharp tonal shifts from brutal violence to charming childhood innocence are jarring and undermine the impact of the former but they feel authentic to the film’s recollection patchwork perspective, which Branagh sews perfectly, finding all those sweet spots of significance in the past for the present: “I’m going nowhere you can’t find me.”
A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE. (IMDb)
A great long-take opening scene (starting with a masked Bond was brilliant) gives way to a mediocre story: A half-hazard clue-hopping mystery centered on a lame villain (Bond’s escapes from the chair and the building were way too easy for him) and a vague evil conspiracy (tying together the previous villains felt contrived). On the other hand, the action is excellent, the visuals are nice, and the politically rebellious antics of M, Q, and Moneypenny add some flavour to Bond’s solo missions.
Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. (IMDb)
The issue of Bond’s fallibility this time around could have been constructed better, but it certainly was a welcome change, and an amazing final showdown featuring teamwork, of all things–with two elderly people yet–adds further freshness. Also praiseworthy is the sinister score and opening credits, Bardem’s uniquely creepy baddie, and the beautiful cinematography (the scenes at Skyfall are especially gorgeous). The politics-turned-personal centered on M provides a nice underlying plot too.
James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organization from eliminating a country’s most valuable resource. All the while, he still tries to seek revenge over the death of his love. (IMDb)
The variety of gorgeously-shot exotic locales aren’t enough to spice up the repetitive action-movie plot (get a lead, follow it with a stolen vehicle, kill the guy) with yet another conveniently good-looking female accomplice and stereotypical foreign villain. Bond’s charm is replaced by a distinct coldness this time around, but as it’s only unpacked once (see the oil-covered girl in the hotel scene) it comes off as dry and dull more than deep. Consequently, it’s an insufficient substitution.
Armed with a licence to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007 and must defeat a weapons dealer in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, but things are not what they seem. (IMDb)
Craig’s Bond has enough athleticism (see the fabulous opening chase sequence), smarts (“How the hell does he know these things?”), and devil-may-care charm (see his valet impersonation) to make most of this film a really fun watch. Only his female-related exploits fail to entertain, moving from eye-rolling alpha male smoothness (though surprisingly it’s Mathis who takes the misogyny cake with his mansplaining of poker) to unwanted and unwarranted romance that really drags out the film’s ending.
7.5/10 (Really Good)