Entries tagged with “Daniel Craig”.

Action films have a problem this fall. The reality of the crazy world we live in is not only rapidly closing in the horrors and destruction imagined by script authors, but it is overcoming it also at some moments. ‘Spectre’ the 2015 edition of the adventures of Agent 007 has a number of TV screens that bring to the world TV audiences information about terror attacks taking place in locations like Mexico City, London or Capetown. Unfortunately they do not look much mode dramatic than what we have lately seen on the news about Paris.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379713/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379713/


So what is left for Agent 007 in a film set (or at least made) in 2015 at the time the news on TV screen compete and overcome the horrors imagined by Fleming and his followers? Director Sam Mendes brings into the story some of the recurring themes from ‘Skyfall’ as well as a number of characters from the new generation of Bond’s companions.  is already comfortable in the role played in many episodes by Judy Dench, and the next generation of Q () and Miss Moneypenny () start to gain an air of familiarity.  continues to divide the fan base, bu then, was not this always the case with all Bonds since Sean Connery left the role of the Eyebrowed One? Action is more than reasonable, it is actually quite good in ‘Spectre’ but this is not something we should be surprised in a Bond movie. The only surprise is actually the lack of surprises.


(video source Zero Media)


With the new team taking control with good action, with a Bond widow () worth every second (there are not too many) spent on screen and a Bond girl () who seems here to stay at least for one more film why do I feel still so much missing in the new Bond? One of the reasons may be that the bad guys do not look so bad. It is not that  is a bad actor, but we do know that in 2015 most of the bad guys have very different ideologies than the politically-correct one brought on screen by ‘Spectre’. Old secret services configurations are outdated, and even the evil state surveillance does not seem too high a price to pay in a world dominated by terrorism. The no. 1 enemy of the new Bond film seems to be again reality.


When I wrote about the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo a few years ago I ended with a remark that I am concerned about the news of an American Hollywood version of the film. I still believe that the Scandinavian version of the first of Stieg Larsson’s book in the Millennium trilogy is a better movie, but from many respects the American remake directed by  is a respectable effort worth being seen and watched even if you have already seen the original, and even if you are not necessarily a big fan of the author and the legend around him (which continues to develop as we speak).


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568346/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568346/


I was expecting to see what the director of Se7en, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, Gone Girl, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will make out of the labyrinthine and cool (from so many respects) Scandinavian thriller. To my surprise he was quite respectful to the original story, and developed it better than the version directed by some of the detective story elements. The Agatha Christie heritage is so evident here that we did not need a in the cast to make it more obvious, but I enjoyed his presence. The Hollywood version is also more detailed in describing the social backgrounds of the two principal characters and this only makes their encounter even more charged when it happens. Did I miss something from what I was expecting from Fincher? Yes – the surprise, the usually close to the final twist that makes many of his film be something else than what you believed them to be when you watched them for the first time. Too much respect for the text sometimes harms.


(video source Sony Pictures Entertainment)


Despite being made at high professional level the Hollywood version stands one step lower than the Swedish one on several key aspects. One is the atmosphere. Whatever Hollywood cameramen do, snow and cold and the light of the North look and feel different in a Scandinavian movie, and the original dialogs and the soundtrack sounded more natural in the Swedish version than the English spoken words. The other is acting. It is said that  brought life into Agent 007. It may be that the dose of life needed to make James Bond a real person is not enough to make investigator journalist Mikael Blomqvist the man in Larsson’s novel who overcomes his life being broken into pieces in order to find the truth. who played the role in the Scandinavian film walked that inch towards fully melding into his character. Almost the same thing can be said about ‘s rendition of Lisbeth Salander – one of the best roles created in the last decade for a young actress. Mara makes us forget her other (nice girl) roles, while had made us forget that there is an actress behind the character.

Despite being better than most of the Hollywood remakes of non-American movies, David Fincher’s film stops one step apart from being as good as original, maybe at an invisible border that cannot really be crossed.


Defiance tells about one of the lesser known episodes of World War II in which a group of Polish Jews saved themselves from the ghettos and the executions by the German occupiers and their local collaborators and formed a partisans unit in the forests of Belarus. They were led by the Bielski brothers and succeeded to hide more than one thousand of people in the forests, to fight against the German occupiers, and also to form a community that survived the harsh weather and natural conditions in the woods, the fights with the enemies, and also the sometimes tense relations with other non-Jewish partisan groups and with the local population. The story was told in the last decade in several books and historic studies, some revealing not only the heroic story but also some more controversial aspects.


source www.imdb.com/title/tt1034303/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1034303/


The film directed by Edward Zwick focuses on the first year in the three that the group spent in the forests, the year that the group was formed, and the first winter that they had to survive in the woods. It’s a story of heroism and survival, of revenge and resilience. Two of the three brothers (originally they were four) are in the center of the story – Tuvia, the leader (Daniel Craig) and Zus the fighter (Liev Schreiber) who at some point joins the Soviet partisans. Both give very credible performances, their dilemma  between personal revenge and saving lives, and their conflicts in the ways the group is to be led are well described. Heroism, faith, will to survive and to keep the human dimensions of life are the main motivations of the characters and they come strong on screen. Besides good acting, authenticity and attention to the details in film making are other visible qualities of this movie, together with fluent story telling. The only questionable aspect is the one related to the language – the Jewish characters speak English, they turn sometimes to Russian when speaking with the Soviet partisans and to the local population (was not this supposed to be rather Polish?) in a mix and with switches that are not clear at all and lack authenticity. I am not sure what the better solution would have been, this may be the best an American production can do without losing the American audiences for whom big screen movies must be mostly or fully spoken in English, I guess.


(video source WatchMovieTrailersHD)


Defiance belongs to a genre which does not have too many films in its records, the one that deals with the Jewish Resistance during World War II, representing Jews not only as victims but also fighting back, defending themselves and sometimes taking revenge on their murderers and oppressors. The other illustrious example is Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds which was produced and released around the same time, which was a declared work of fiction. Defiance openly advertises being inspired by true events, and it succeeds to present a credible and in some moments moving picture of the few and the brave who had the courage to resist. There is no hint in the film itself or warning in the text introduction or epilogue about the controversies related to the darker aspects of the story, and this is maybe the principal minus of this production.

The century is the 21st according to one of the popular counting methods and ‘Bond, James Bond’ is still spoken from the screen by a man dressed in a tuxedo with a glass of a selected cocktail in hand. Yet, very many things are new in the last few films in the series (now at #23 if I am not mistaken) and the traditional casino scenes, the exotic locations, the gadgets and even the fabulous Bond girls, without being completely pushed to the back seats are secondary in the recently released ‘Skyfall’. It’s a new world, a world where the good guys in the service of Her Majesty are no longer fighting the bad guys on the other side of the Iron Curtain, as there is no longer any such Curtain.  Not only the enemy is no longer clearly defined by politics or nationality, but he can actually be one of ‘us’. Bond himself is no longer an infallible gentleman feeling no pain and encountering no failure, he actually fails, and falls, and is wounded – physically and psychologically. Daniel Craig is a completely different type of actor than the first (big) names who took the role, he is not only better, but also has a much more distinct human dimension. No longer a super-hero. Hardly a hero.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1074638/


Is the new James Bond better? I would say yes, but not much better. Certainly, the realistic touch brought by director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) is an interesting turn. For the first time maybe in a film in the James Bond series we are watching a Bond and an ‘M’ which are not only flesh and blood, but also complex human beings, with doubts and dilemmas that we can understand and resonate with. The question however for me is to what extent these human dimensions work in the context of a mega-action series whose rules are not only set from start but also known by almost anybody who chooses to come and see the film. This is a film I liked, but now, two or three hours after I watched it I can say that I liked it because of the same good all reasons that I liked all good James Bond films – for the fabulous action scenes (and there are a few memorable ones in the film), for the variations on the old familiar characters (and I loved the new ‘Q’) and for the balance between tradition and innovation. It is not for the psychological deepness of the characters that I (and many other fans) go to see a Bond film. The problem is not that the characters are not deep and real, but that these aspects of the film are too overloaded, and if the film seems to be a bit too long it is just because of these.


(video source SonyPictures)


Some of the acting is very much to the point. Judi Dench gives a great performance (possibly her last one in the series) which puts in shadow all other characters in what is probably the first Bond film without a real Bond girl to receive consistent screen time. Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomi Harris mark the new generation that will probably take further familiar characters in the next 21st century installments, while Javier Bardem adds his name to the illustrious series of Bond villains. Times are achangin’ and so are slowly the Bond films. For good? We still are too see, but there are signs it’s the right direction. If we are to look back 50 years after, it’s only Her Majesty who did not really change since the series started!