Anyone who saw the masterpiece that was Casino Royale is already well-aware that Daniel Craig is not your typical Bond, and I’m not just talkin’ about the color of his hair. See, the new 007 doesn’t smile. The new 007 holds a grudge. The new 007 tends to flip MI6 the proverbial bird and does whatever he feels like doing, whenever he feels like doing it (and he usually feels like killing people). But what is perhaps most surprising is that the new Bond has a continuing storyline! Clearly the filmmakers have gone and decided to model the new James Bond after another J.B. who’s been raking in dough the past few years (Jason Bourne), and this reviewer for one doesn’t have [too big] a problem with that. That said, I did have more than a few problems with this film.
Gone is much of the emotional impact from the last installment, which for me was the most welcome new addition to the Bond series. The characters here, Bond included, are one-note and under-developed (especially the laughable redheaded bombshell in the trenchcoat). Also gone are the colorful villains that were my favorite mainstays from the old Bond series. The closest we get is a henchman with a Lloyd Christmas toupee (5 points if you got that reference) who never throws a punch. The main villain, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almeric) is smart and diabolical and all, but he comes off about as intimidating as a pitbull puppy. On the other side of the spectrum, in line with the film's title, the storyline is a bit too complex for an action flick. But hey, I’d prefer that to an overly simplistic, by-the-numbers plot any day.
On a positive note, the action is intense, fantastic, and plentiful to boot. Indie director Marc Forster does some insanely cool things with the camera that put us right in the thick of it all, and Bond’s take-no-shit, shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude is something I am always willing to get behind. Worry not though old-school 007 fans, this is still a Bond film, so we get the usual abundance of stunning exotic locales and a couple even more stunning Bond babes to gawk at (Olga Kurylenko, you will be mine). That said, I really respected the fact that the filmmakers avoided a serious love story in keeping faithful to Bond’s revenge mission, even if Bond himself is too damn manly to admit he's on one.
This review kinda jumps all over the place, but in a sense so does this flick. The entire film feels at odds with itself, trying in the script to find a balance between the gritty, brooding bad-boy established in Casino Royale and the womanizing smooth-talker Austin Powers loved to poke fun at. And while for many that can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow, I’d greatly prefer this flick to the last Pierce Brosnan circus act any day.
Bond: On Location (24:45) - A lengthy but breezy featurette about the many, many locations involved in the making of the film. Good lord they must have had a lot of coin to play with on this baby. Overall very well-shot, entertaining, and beautiful to look at. The best feature on this DVD for sure.
Start of Shooting (2:54) - Talks about the expectations of making a follow-up to the awesome Casino Royale, then becomes a sort of mini behind-the-scenes montage. If you don’t have the patience for the lengthier stuff, peep this.
Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase (2:14) - Another short little montage of BTS clips, this time showing smokin’ hot Olga Kurylenko preparing for and then performing in the boat chase scene. Olga, if you’re reading this, you can reach me anytime at AaronHorwitz@joblo.com. I'm available day or night Monday through Friday and all weekends.
On Location (3:14) - This is a truly bizarre featurette in that it basically just echoes much of the footage and topics of the “Bond: On Location” feature, only it does so in 1/8th the runtime. Basically functions like a commercial for the longer feature. Skip this.
Director Marc Forster (2:45) - A bunch of recycled footage in a short featurette about…wait for it…director Marc Forster. This may not be his finest film, but with this guy’s body of work, he deserves all the praise he gets.
The Music (2:36) - Composer David Arnold takes us through the composing process and we get some behind the scenes footage of Jack White and Alicia Keyes shooting the music video of their funkalicious theme song. Give this a go if ya like…music.
Crew Files - As a film crewbie myself, I really dug this special feature. We get well over a dozen 1-2 minute bits on various members of the crew, detailing their role in the project in a light, non-pretentious manner. Educational, simple, fun. Kinda like Ceramics class.
You also get a Teaser Trailer and Theatrical Trailer.