Who’s In It: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Gemma Arterton
The Basics: Uh… some bad guys want some… water? Or oil? Or some quantums? Wait, hang on, James Bond’s here and he’s going to stab you in the face. There, dead yet? No? Okay well then he’ll stab you in the face again. And then there’s going to be a car chase on a cliff and a dizzying ballet involving crashing through glass ceilings and spinning around on big metal beams and then a small plane battle in a rocky gorge and—pause for sex, please—and then there’s going to be even more violent action, including tons of stuff exploding all around. Is this James Bond or the next Bourne movie?
What’s The Deal: To answer the preceding rhetorical question—WHO CARES? I’ve disliked just about every Bond movie after A View to A Kill (and those Roger Moore ones where he chased baddies with three nipples were dopey too, it’s just that I was eight years old when I saw them) and it’s because those Bonds seemed like they cared more about drinking martinis and playing slap-and-tickle with bikini babes than they cared about taking out the bad guys. They had a license to kill but they usually let the gadgets take care of that messy business for them. Craig, as Bond, is the kind of angry, rage-filled brute who takes face-first dives into cement and then gets up and keeps fighting. And he wins. Complain about the re-invention all you want, at least it doesn’t feel like Benny Hill with a gun anymore.
Best Part That Doesn’t Involve Destroying Human Life: Judi Dench is the best M ever, I think. And I like the moment where you see her about to take a bubble bath and she’s interrupted by more Bond troubles. The look on her face is seriously like, “The phone always rings when I’m about to use my effervescent grapefruit bath bomb, dammit!”
Dear Viewers, Don’t Be This Guy: I sat behind some jerkface at the press screening who needlessly announced—TWICE—to his viewing companions which scene was a direct visual reference to an earlier classic Bond film. I swear those “Please silence your cell phone and refrain from talking” pleas at the beginning of movies need to be more like the brutal R-rated one they used in front of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie.
Why Jeffrey Wright Is In This Movie: If you can figure out the answer to that one I’d like to know too. Again, the plot? Just let it go…