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November 13, 2012
by Biggie Josh Ellinger,posted Dec 10 2012 7:07AM
It’s his 50 anniversary, so Bond had to be big. And it’s in large thanks to Daniel Craig, who now fits the role of Bond as well as he fits those Tom Ford tailored suits. This is the 23rd Bond movie, and Bond creators no doubt felt the pressure to reaffirm 007’s relevance in a changing world. And so rather than skirt around the issue, screenwriters make obsolescence the core of the film: MI6 members worry about getting too old to tackle bad guys, a few characters talk about retirement, and cybercrime threatens to make field agents a thing of the past.
In this outing, Bond is written off for dead but reappears when a cyber-terrorism expert blows up part of London and starts releasing the names of undercover agents embedded around the world. Javier Bardem is already being touted as one of the best Bond villains ever, playing a psychopath with a creepy hairdo (a la No Country for Old Men) and with serious mommy issues and an axe to grind with M (Judi Dench, her seventh time in the role).
Bond can destroy half a train and jump into the wreckage, but still take a moment to straighten his cufflinks. He can slip into the shower with one of the Bond girls, and that’s all we see: because sexy without the sex will always be in style. And yes, we’ve got the classic drink, the classic Bond line, and even the classic car: a 1965 Aston Martin DB5. Lots of old-school touches, spectacular special and visual effects, and just enough of Bond’s past to pique our interest but not ruin the mystery. Craig has signed on for two more Bond films, so sequels are on the way.
“Just because I’m telling you this story doesn’t mean I’m alive at the end of it,” says O (Blake Lively), a Laguna beach babe who is in love with not one, but two best buddies and self-made drug producers. It’s a cozy threesome: Chon (Taylor Kitsch) is an impulsive Iraq war vet; Ben (Aaron Johnson) is a Buddhist, who uses the drug profits to spread goodwill throughout the world. “Together they’re the perfect man,” notes O. It all comes crashing down when the Mexican drug cartels move north, want some of the boys action, and kidnap O in order to get it. Salma Hayek is the cartel kingpin, Benicio del Toro is her soulless right-hand man, John Travolta plays a crooked DEA agent. This hyper-stylized Oliver Stone film sports some good performances, but squanders any chance at deeper storytelling: Hayek is drug queenpin, but is impossibly weak and emotional; and you would think that eventually O would have to choose between her boys, but the film doesn’t even go there.
Special features include a five-part making-of extra, commentary with Oliver Stone, deleted scenes and an extra gory unrated version.
Poor timing sealed this film’s fate before the reviews came out: The Watch (formerly Neighborhood Watch) released just as things were exploding with the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, therefore the concept of self-appointed neighborhood watchmen seemed pointedly unfunny. Sony changed focus, promoting the fact that the film was really about aliens invading a suburban neighborhood and setting up shop in a Costco, but The Watch isn’t worth the price of admission any way you spin it. Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, British comic Richard Ayoade; Seth Rogen contributed to the script, which features one phallic joke after another, most of which fall flat. A big flop for Sony.