Sean Connery

REVIEW: The Untouchables (1987)

During the era of Prohibition in the United States, Federal Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) sets out to stop ruthless Chicago gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) and, because of rampant corruption, assembles a small, hand-picked team to help him – veteran beat cop Jim Malone (Sean Connery), trainee George Stone (Andy Garcia) and accountant Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith).

From the opening credits I was instantly intrigued by The Untouchables and that’s thanks to Ennio Morricone’s score. The harmonica slowly amps up the tension and intrigue while the drumbeat gets your heart pounding. It’s an example of one of the main action themes that is present throughout the film and you soon learn that when you hear that sound, something big is about to happen.

The whole cast is great in their roles. Costner brings the almost naivety to Eliot Ness, who has a big task ahead of him going after Al Capone. As Ness and his team close in on Capone’s operation, you see the steely determination come through and how far Ness is willing to go for justice. It’s unsurprising that Sean Connery won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as he steals pretty much every scene he’s in. Malone is Ness’ guide and the scene with the two of them in a church, discussing how far they’ll go is a standout. Garcia’s Stone is a sharpshooter but honest while Martin Smith’s Wallace is more of a nerdy guy but the pair of them round out this unlikely team well.

The raids, shootouts and stakeouts are all a great balance of tension and payoff. The shootouts are exciting and entertaining but it’s the quieter moments like when a character is being stalked by another that really puts you on edge.

The filming techniques used in The Untouchables help make this film stand out in the crime drama genre. The scene with Ness and Malone in the church is filmed with a Split Diopter lens, making both characters in focus, there’s extreme closeups of Ness’ eyes at key moments, the camera sometimes acts like a characters point of view, only giving you the viewer so much information, and slow-motion is used to great affect in one of the final shootouts in the film. While The Untouchables is certainly a slick, crime drama it’s these little touches that help elevate the film. The costuming deserves a mention too as everyone’s suits add to their characters – Stone’s leather jacket is a personal highlight.

The Untouchables is slick, tense and thrilling as Ness and his men battle corruption and Capone’s men at every turn in order to bring the man to justice. The characters are all great individually but it’s how these four men work together and put aside any differences that’s really compelling. 5/5.

My Bondathon is Complete! My thoughts on the James Bond films

I have completed my Bondathon! All the Bond films from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig have been watched and reviewed so now it’s time to have a look at which films are my favourites, who’s my favourite Bond and which Bond song is my favourite. You can check out all my James Bond reviews here in the Bondathon tag.

Favourite Bond Film(s) – I’m going to cheat and break it down into my favourite film featuring each Bond actor.

GoldfingerSean Connery – Goldfinger (1964)
Goldfinger is the definitive Bond film and the template of all Bond films to later follow. It’s got great action, great gadgets and a great Bond girl in Pussy Galore. It also has a clever yet simple plot and an iconic villain in Oddjob.

George Lazenby – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)On-Her-Majestys-Secret-Service-1969-movie-George-Lazenby-Diana-Rigg
OK so George Lazenby only had one outing as Bond but On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is such a great film it deserves a mention. It has Tracey, one of the best Bond girls, and some great action scenes in the snow. It’s also one of the more grown-up and touching Bond films. (more…)

REVIEW: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Diamonds-Are-Forever-01A diamond smuggling investigation takes James Bond (Sean Connery) to Las Vegas and leads him into plots concerning lasers, space and his old nemesis Blofeld (Charles Gray).

The plot of Diamonds Are Forever isn’t the best, in fact it’s quite dull at some points. While Connery is still his charming self as Bond, he almost looks a bit bored through some points of the film. Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) is a girl who is a part of the diamond smuggling ring who ends up helping Bond out but really she wasn’t the most helpful or independent of the Bond Girls.

There’s a chase scene where Bond is in some sort of space buggy being chased by Blofeld’s henchman in cars and on weird dirt bikes and wow are they useless! They were the most incompetent bunch of henchman I’ve seen so far in the Bond films. They were so bad it was funny and I don’t think it was meant to be like that – or if it was, it didn’t get the tone right.

Blofeld did have a couple of henchman that were actually quite successful in their criminal activities – most of which were killings. Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) and Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) were actually quite creepy as they were both soft spoken and clearly smart and dangerous. They were great secondary characters. As were Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Parks), two acrobatic femme fatales that made things difficult for Bond. The scene featuring them two was my favourite in the whole film.

Diamonds Are Forever is Sean Connery’s last appearance as James Bond and it’s a shame it didn’t live up to the greatness of some of his previous outings. 2/5.

REVIEW: You Only Live Twice (1967)

bWMUopxfEb7uWHRkyrhDlfNXPwiA series of space shuttles are being stolen from outer space – both American and Russian and both sides blame each other. James Bond (Sean Connery) teams up with the Japanese secret service led by Tiger Tanaka (Tetsurô Tanba) in order to find out who the real culprit is before nuclear war breaks out.

Mysteries abound in You Only Live Twice as Bond must figure out who he can trust and which agent is the one he is supposed to meet in Tokyo. Tiger is the head of the Japanese secret service and is very smooth and a great ally for Bond. Not only is he the head of the Japanese secret service, but he also trains people to become ninjas.

There wasn’t as many gadgets in this Bond film compared to previous ones, instead Bond learns how to become a ninja and goes undercover as a Japanese fisherman – this is one of the most ridiculous plans I’ve seen in the Bond films so far.

You Only Live Twice is the first time you see Blofeld’s face (Donald Pleasance) and he really seems like a formidable villain for Bond – especially with his tank of piranhas. The scenes with him against Bond are great to watch and one of the highlights of the film.

The thing I like about going back and watching all the Bond films in order is that you see how one differs from the next. For You Only Live Twice it is the fact the majority of the film is set in Japan (which does lead to some slightly dubious if not racist comments that have not stood the test of time) and also there is a brilliant aerial chase/shoot out sequence.

The plot is quite implausible (even by James Bond standards) but it is still an interesting film, with a great sidekick, and some decent action sequences. 4/5.

REVIEW: Thunderball (1965)

graphics2James Bond (Sean Connery) travels to the Bahamas on the hunt for two nuclear warheads after SPECTRE steals them to extort money out of the biggest countries in the world.

Thunderball starts off full of action with Bond fighting a widow (who is not who they seem) but then it slows down a bit to become more of a mystery which was certainly different. Unfortunately, it never really gets that sense of pace or action back again.

One of the biggest problems I had with Thunderball is the excess amount of characters. It was very hard to follow who was who, especially as so many of them kept being killed off. Having characters who are close to or associated with Bond die does add an extra layer of threat to Bond but at the same time because they aren’t around long you don’t have enough time to care about them.

There is a lot of underwater stuff in Thunderball which is great and makes it different to previous Bond films. There’s underwater fights and shootouts and the way there are filmed is pretty great – though a bit overlong.

Thunderball certainly isn’t a bad film per se but it isn’t a great Bond film. It doesn’t have the great pace that previous films have and the plot is quite bloated with characters that are not given enough to do before they are snuffed out. Thunderball‘s villain does feed people to sharks though so it gets points for that. 3/5

REVIEW: From Russia with Love (1963)

from_russia_with_love_xlgJames Bond (Sean Connery) is caught up in between the Russians and the British as SPECTRE lays a cunning web all to get their hands on a Soviet encryption device and to get their revenge on Bond for his actions in Dr. No (1962).

From Russia with Love is action-packed, fast-paced and has a bigger scope than its predecessor. There scenes in Venice, Istanbul and London, there’s boat chases, helicopters shooting at trucks and better fight scenes. I especially liked the fight scene between Bond and Donald “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw) in a train carriage – it’s tense and claustrophobic and feels like something that could have been filmed today.

Grant is a SPECTRE agent put on to James Bond’s trail and he is like the dark to Bond’s light. They both wear very similar grey suits but while Bond is dark haired, Grant is blonde. There’s a scene towards the end where Grant is almost mirroring Bond’s movements and it shows how alike they are yet they work for the opposite sides – the phrase two sides of the same coin comes to mind.

SPECTRE has a bigger presence in From Russia with Love and even has the first appearance of Blofeld – though you never see his face, just his chest as he strokes his white cat in his arms. With SPECTRE as well as the British and Russians, from Russia with Love is very much a Cold War thriller.

I really liked Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz), the Turkish station head who helps out James Bond. He was funny and competent but I hope the rest of the older Bond films don’t kill off Bond’s allies (who happen to be people of colour) like I’ve seen so far in From Russia with Love and Dr. No.

From Russia with Love is bigger and bolder than Dr. No and builds on the James Bond-lore – there’s a very cool, gadget-y briefcase this time. 5/5.

REVIEW: Dr. No (1962)

dr-no-1962-movie-posterJames Bond (Sean Connery) must go to Jamaica to find out what happened to a missing agent and to figure out what it has got to do with the American space program.

Sean Connery as James Bond is charming, handsome and clever – three elements that will become defining characteristics for the character. There isn’t a lot of fancy gadgets at all. For instance, Bond just simply puts a hair where the doors of the wardrobe meet so he can later tell if someone’s rummaged through his things while he’s been away. I like that Bond relies more on his wits than the car or the gadgets and he’s also not afraid to kill or hurt people to get answers.

I liked that for the vast majority of the film the villain is unseen and is like a puppeteer pulling other characters strings. It makes the big reveal of who Dr. No is more tense and fascinating. Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) is certainly an interesting villain, he is a very smart scientist working for SPECTRE but it’s the rumours and myths surrounding him before you meet him that make him seem that much more of a worthy adversary for Bond. Dr. No does not look very foreboding but (like many Bond villains) there is something that makes him different and potentially deadly.

Compared to what we as an audience is used to today (in both James Bond films and action/thrillers in general) Dr. No is quite slow paced in some parts. That being said, the action is still interesting and thrilling and there is plenty of humour courtesy of Connery’s wit.

Dr. No is the first James Bond film so while it may not be as polished as its predecessors, the starting formula of what makes James Bond, James Bond is all there. There’s the iconic first shot of the character as well as the first shot of Bond Girl Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) coming out of the ocean. There’s mentions of how Bond likes his drink (shaken, not stirred – obviously), about his gun of choice, and there’s the nice looking cars. It’s a great starting point for the franchise and (nearly) lives up to today’s expectations of the genre. 4/5