Ben Whishaw

REVIEW: No Time to Die (2021)

After going into retirement and feeling betrayed by Madeline (Léa Seydoux), the woman he gave up MI6 for, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying the anonymity of the quiet life. That is until Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking Bond for help, setting him on the tail of a mysterious and powerful man with dangerous new technology.

No Time to Die opens with a tense prologue before going into a thrilling car chase as Bond’s world once again comes crashing down. The action sequences in No Time to Die are excellent with hand-to-hand fights being shot close and without being heavily edited so you can actually see and feel what James Bond is going through. The various car chases are great too as at times you feel like you really are immersed in the action and are about to be crushed by a flying car.

In terms of the villain of No Time to Die, Rami Malek’s Safin almost feels like a cameo. It takes at least to the half way mark of the (almost three hour-long) film to see his face and while he does the job of being threatening and eerie with his monologues, it’s the technology he plans to use that is far more terrifying. The villain shouldn’t come second to their end-of-the-world-ploy but here he does. The technology Bond and MI6 have set out to stop is the world-ending kind and perhaps it’s because of what we have all lived through these past two year makes the device seem all the more real and scary.

The relationship between Bond and Madeline is a core part of this film, and Bond’s motivations. However, personally I’ve never really seen the chemistry between Craig and Seydoux. While they both give good performances individually, when together something doesn’t quite click.

Welcome additions to the franchise are Lashana Lynch’s Nomi, a double-oh agent who has not so friendly banter with Bond, and Ana de Armas’ Paloma, an agent Bond briefly teams up with in Cuba. Nomi and Bond work well together on screen as while they are both highly trained operatives, she is more of a soldier and willing to follow orders compared to Bond’s more rogue-nature. Paloma is an absolute delight and like a breath of fresh air and it’s a shame we only get her for such a brief amount of time. She is young but capable and so much fun – her fight scenes were different and interesting compare to Bond’s and show her physicality as she throws guns at men’s heads as well as just shooting at them.

While No Time to Die is certainly a very good send off for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, it does leave you wondering the fate of other characters like Ben Whishaw’s Q and Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny. This is unfortunate and for me a bit of a bugbear as the wider MI6 cast that have been surrounding Craig’s Bond for so long is something I’ve really come to enjoy. It’s their interactions with Bond and each other that have made MI6 feel more real and the whole thing more grounded as James Bond does have a team behind him, whether or not he actually listens to them/goes to them for help is besides the point.

No Time to Die is action-packed and often thrilling. While it doesn’t have a memorable villain and the plot does feel a bit convoluted at times, Daniel Craig’s performance is what pulls everything together and manages to keep the film on track. 3/5.

REVIEW: SPECTRE (2015)

spectre elenasquareeyesWhen James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) past comes back to haunt him, he discovers a sinister organisation. Meanwhile in London M (Ralph Fiennes) has battle a political programme to keep the secret service alive.

The opening sequence in Mexico was amazing. It really starts SPECTRE with a bang and it’s a highlight of the film. The continuous tracking shots of Bond as he moves from the crowded streets to the rooftops are brilliant and then the helicopter stunts are tense and jaw-dropping. It’s one of the best opening’s to a Bond film and then follows Sam Smith’s theme song which plays incredibly well with the title sequence.

SPECTRE has a lot more humour than the previous Craig-Bond films and it does well in balancing the humour and the tension. The action-scenes are still pretty great but t’s the hand-to-hand fights that are the most impressive. When Bond faces off against Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) it’s a sight to behold and I loved Hinx, he’s huge and deadly but also smart, definitely a worthy adversary for Bond.

The guy puling all the strings is Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). He commands the screen whenever he appears and he has great chemistry with Bond. Part of me wishes there was more of him in SPECTRE because he was a joy to watch on screen but then I think it was great having this omnipresent character in the shadows, just out of reach and taunting Bond.

Team MI6 were great in SPECTRE. M has his own story and it’s great to see him in a political battle with Denbigh (Andrew Scott). I continue to love Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Tanner (Rory Kinnear) and their relationship with both Bond and M, SPECTRE makes Q and Moneypenny seem more like their own characters even though their primary purpose it to help M and Bond.

The main problem I had with SPECTRE is that there’s so many references to previous Bond films. I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything if I hadn’t had my Bondathon this year but watching SPECTRE I couldn’t help but be reminded of various Bond films. Elements from Dr. No, From Russia with Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Licence to Kill are all featured in SPECTRE to various extents. In some ways it could be a nice homage but really I found it quite distracting and SPECTRE didn’t really end up feeling like it’s own film.

SPECTRE is a lot of fun and is action-packed but the continuous references to previous Bond films is quite jarring and the ending wasn’t quite what you’d expect for Bond. 3/5.

REVIEW: Skyfall (2012)

skyfall-poster_510x756When a hard drive with the identity’s of undercover MI6 agents is stolen M’s (Judi Dench) past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack James Bond (Daniel Craig) must hunt down the mysterious and deadly Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), no matter the cost.

Skyfall is a good-looking film. Standout moments include the static shot of Bond and Patrice (Ola Rapace) fighting in Shanghai. They are silhouettes with blue lights behind them and not only does it look really cool, you can actually see and follow the fight much more easily than when fights are shot with a lot of close ups and quick cuts.

New characters are introduced in Skyfall – or rather old characters with new faces. Q (Ben Whishaw) is much younger than the previous incarnation and allows for interesting commentary for the new age of espionage. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) is definitely a twenty-first century version of the character and is awesome. (more…)

Review: Mojo

Yesterday I went to see Mojo with a friend in London. It was a great day out as the friend I saw it with I hadn’t seen since September so it was a great to have a catch up and go see a play with a great cast that we both ended up really enjoying.

Mojo is set in a Soho bar and club in the 1950’s and it all takes place across two days. One night Silver Johnny (Tom Rhys Harries) is with the club’s boss Ezra talking to Sam Ross who comes across a bit of a gangster (or at least all the other character’s react to him as if he is). The next morning Ezra is dead, Silver Johnny is missing and the clubs staff Mickey (Brendan Coyle) Ezra’s second-in-command, Baby (Ben Whishaw) Ezra’s son who is clearly at least a bit crazy, Skinny (Colin Morgan) who’s slightly dim-witted and always manages to rub Baby up the wrong way, and the double act of Sweets (Rupert Grint) and Potts (Daniel Mays) are struggling to figure out what to do and if or when Ross is going to come and murder them all.

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