Starring: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Jeffrey Wright, Ana de Armas, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Lashana Lynch, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Billy Magnussen, and Christoph Waltz.
Directed By: Cary Jogo Fukunaga
Where I Watched it: Amazon
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Description Provided By: Deluxe
Narrated By: Jedidiah Barton
The plot: Bond (Craig) has retired following the events of Spectre, but just when you think you’re out they pull you back in. He even has a new squeeze (Seydoux), and this guy (Malek) has to ruin his peace by being another megalomaniac with some delusions of grandeur that involve a piece of technology with devastating consequences should it be released upon the world. It’s the final Daniel Craig Bond film.
What Works: As a send off to the Daniel Craig legacy that peaked so brilliantly with Skyfall, this ends up course correcting a bit from Spectre, which featured an underwhelming Blofeld (the script was the problem, not waltz). Here, Waltz is given a bit more time to linger in the classic role of Blofeld, before Malek fully takes over as the main villain. It helps a bit, but it can’t fix everything.
The highlights here are the action sequences, some of them feeling quite reminiscent of previous Bond films. The finale happens on an island off the coast of Japan, and for Bond fans, that alone should feel familiar. How many times did James need to go to a secluded island, including even the one time he sought out an island right off the coast of Japan? He’s been here before, but truthfully, with more memorable villains.
The film also soars by giving James a ton of females who all serve unique purposes. of course, Harris is back as Moneypenny, but there’s a nice surprise as he meets a female double-O agent, as well as the characters played by both Seydoux and de Armas. It’s the most female friendly Bond flick, since he’s introduced in the beginning as having settled down, so the concept of a typical Bond girl has gone out the window. He’s taken, and doesn’t feel the need to sleep around anymore.
It’s this maturity, this acceptance that the Bond he once was is not the Bond he is now, nor is it the one he wants to be moving forward that really pushes Daniel Craig’s performance through this film with a different kind of weight than he’s had in the past. his intentions have changed, his commitment to the cause is for a very different reason, and he seems far less tolerant of bullshit. Remember, he technically quit, so he feels no need to play by any rules anymore. Someone has gone and messed up his tranquility, and that person is gonna pay.
What Doesn’t Work: Perhaps it is a testament to how good Javier Bardem actually was in Skyfall that I’ve felt that both Christoph Waltz and Rami Malek have fallen short. Malek’s character is given a backstory here, but it’s not one I cared about, nor was it evolved enough to justify his actions. I didn’t care for him, his cause, or anything surrounding him. He was just an object that stood in the way, an unfortunate position to be in for a Bond villain when so many before have rose to the occasion. It’s not that Malek is untalented, because that would be far from the truth. It’s just that the script doesn’t quite know how to anchor him in. He ends up being important because someone else is more important, more established, and that character we care about, and Malek is just along for the ride.
Also, considering how this film ends, with the ambiguity potentially there for what becomes of this franchise, I wouldn’t have put “James Bond will return”. Sure, we all assume that, but it kind of ruins what you just did. Allow us all to just have a moment to appreciate the beginning and end of Daniel Craig’s reign as James Bond without promising us that you’re already putting the building blocks together to make more money.
And, for all the hype for Ana De Armas going into this film, I felt she was rather inconsequential to the overall film. The other girls contributed more, and we felt more for them. he character appears without much fanfare, and leaves without much fanfare.
The Blind Perspective: I struggle to find problems with Barton’s narration. His audio description does such a good job of capturing a dozen different action sequences, all expertly staged around large set pieces, that I was grateful to have such well designed audio description in a film that caps off Craig’s reign as Bond.
Final Thoughts: Not my favorite Daniel Craig Bond film, but that’s jsut because movies like Casino Royale and Skyfall understood the beginning, middle, and end, what to do with their villain, and got us emotionally invested in everyone. Here, there are expendable characters, underdeveloped villains with generic excuses for world domination, and a second attempt to fix Blofeld that only kind of works. It does eventually culminate in a resonant finale, but the long two hour and forty five minute journey to get there is a bumpy ride at times.
Final Grade: B