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Non-Review Review: Skyfall

There’s a moment about a third of the way through Skyfall that manages to perfectly encapsulate its opinion of the iconic British spy at the heart of the film. Casually dismissing the villain’s lofty accomplishments, Bond mutters, “Everybody needs a hobby.” The villain takes the jab quite well. “Oh. What’s yours?” Bond retorts, “Resurrection.” Released to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the film franchise, Skyfall is a veritable ode to Bond’s endurance – in both a literal and metaphorical sense. After all, not many fifty year olds look as stylish as this.

Sam Mendes, and his talented cast and crew, have managed to get Bond the perfect birthday present.

Working in the shadows…

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Franz Sanchez

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

As far as James Bond’s on-screen adversaries go, Franz Sanchez stands out for a number of reasons. Like Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos, Robert Davi seems like he might have wandered on to the set from a nearby sound stage. While the murky and subtle double-agent from For Your Eyes Only could have arrived from a John le Carré story, Franz Sanchez looks to have wandered out of Miami Vice. Licence to Kill represented an attempt by the producers to make Bond topical again, with mixed results. It’s still one of the most divisive films in the series.

Part of that attempt to modernise Bond was the decision to cast the character as a morally ambiguous anti-hero out for revenge, in contrast to the clean-cut morality of earlier adventures. However, Sanchez himself was also by-product of the attempt to modernise Bond. Bond was no longer hunting a spy, an assassin or a madman with plans of world domination. Instead, Bond found himself confronting a thug running an international drug cartel.

It’s all keeled over on him…

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Francisco Scaramanga

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

You see, Mr Bond, like every great artist, I want to create an indisputable masterpiece once in my lifetime. The death of 007 mano a mano, face to face, will be mine.

You mean stuffed and displayed  over your rocky mantelpiece?

That’s an amusing idea,  but I was thinking in terms of history.  A duel between titans. My golden gun against your Walther PPK. Each of us with a 50-50 chance.

Six bullets to your one?

I only need one.

Scaramanga and Bond

Was there ever a better Bond villain wasted in a more terrible film? Okay, maybe Christopher Walken as Max Zorin comes close, but Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga feels like the only potentially redemptive aspect of the tonally mismatched The Man With The Golden Gun, a movie about a duel to a death that involves a karate school, secret lairs, giant frickin’ lasers and a slide whistle. Scaramanga is easily the most compelling thing about the whole film, and that might explain the contempt that many people hold for it. After all, the eponymous assassin is missing for most of the middle section of the film.

The eyes of a killer…

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Non-Review Review: Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can is an enjoyable little film which feels like Spielberg indulging in some sixties nostalgia, while allowing Leonardo DiCaprio to scratch yet another name off his “greatest living directors” bingo card. It’s always impressive when a movie running for two-and-a-half hours just breezes by – some might suggest that such a film is “light”, and it’s a hard position to disagree with, but I think it marks a nice change of pace from the darker movies Spielberg was directing during the first decade of the new millennium. It’s not a classic, but it’s an enjoyable piece of cinema, crafted by talented people, that moves almost as fast as its lead character.

They should cheque better next time...

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