Posts Tagged ‘spies’

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License Renewed: “Spectre”

November 11, 2015

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If you’ve followed this blog even casually, you know that I’m a James Bond superfan and roundly consider the Daniel Craig installments to be a human achievement roughly on par with the pyramids, Hoover Dam, and, well, democracy. And you would be right to assume that I might not be the most impartial of critics when it comes to James Bond movies. I will admit that if Spectre, the 24 entry in the James Bond franchise, consisted of nothing but 120 minutes of Daniel Craig reading aloud from a Nicolas Sparks novel and punching a dolphin in the face I’d probably leave the theater thinking, Well that was a bold direction to take the character and then immediately buy the limited edition Omega watch.

Still, I’d like to think my love for the franchise also gives me a keen sense of what should and should not be in a Bond movie. And Spectre pretty much gives us mostly the former with a little of the latter.

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REPOST: “Skyfall”

November 11, 2015

Bond is back.

Skyfall, the 23rd entry in the 007 franchise, comes to us six years after Daniel Craig’s debut as James Bond in Casino Royale, and four years after the interesting, but developmentally-compromised Quantum of Solace, and with itwe finally get the James Bond film we have been waiting for: a return to all the things that make this franchise so beloved—gadgets, girls, foreign locations, intrigue—but also a film possessed of an emotional nuance not seen before in the franchise. It’s also finally recognized what the past 17 years of Bond films have mostly missed: the best Bond girl is Judi Dench.
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REPOST: “Quantum of Solace”

November 11, 2015

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“The job is done, and the bitch is dead.”

Those words—Bond’s penultimate line of dialogue from Casino Royale– provide the engine for Quantum of Solace. The 22nd film in the franchise follows James Bond on a mission of vengence for the death of his lover Vesper Lynd, but also one of forgiveness and personal rehabilitation. Throughout the film, Bond seems to be desperately trying to believe those words, and finally contending with the emotional consequences when he can’t. In the end director Marc Forster uses that engine to deliver a fast, flawed, and occasionally frustrating movie, but ultimately the most fascinating addition to the James Bond canon.
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From the mists of time: “I, the Jury”

July 5, 2015

 

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It’s tempting to call 1982’s I, the Jury a sleazy, pulpy , mercenary adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s 1947 novel, but that would ignore just how sleazy and pulpy Spillane’s novel is in the first place. Sure, the movie basically jettisons big chunks of Spillane’s plot and fills it in with crap about mind-control and the CIA, but Spillane probably would have done that if he’d thought of it at the time (and who knows, he might have used it in later novels—he wrote, like, a million of them). No, this I, the Jury is just as trashy and lurid as its source material (which courted controversy upon its release for its violence and sex), adjusted, of course, for for 1982 sensibilities, and that amounts to very lurid and trashy. I mean, there’s a reason that during my childhood, this movie was the Holy Grail of HBO’s early offerings, and it’s not the snazzy soundtrack.
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City of Lights (and Glocks): “3 Days to Kill”

March 18, 2014

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This is a toughie. No, not because I’m conflicted about my feelings toward 3 Days to Kill—I pretty much hated it, and at one point was so bored I tried to file my income taxes on my iPhone during the middle third of the movie (word to wise: don’t ever try this…you fat-finger one key and the next thing you know the IRS wants actual proof of the elephant preserve you’re claiming as  a write-off). No, 3 Days to Kill is a toughie, because I can’t figure out what the hell anyone was doing with this movie? Like, what kind of movie were they making? What kind did they think they were making? Why did they make this? And why, when they saw the final result did they not just destroy it with fire and say that the final cut was destroyed by rampaging elephants who escaped from a preserve? That last one would actually be very helpful for me, if anyone wants to, you know, sign an affidavit to that effect. Anyway, let’s talk about this movie.
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Guilty Pleasures: “Terminal Velocity”

February 13, 2014

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Friends, Romans, Cinephiles, lend me your ears (figuratively, of course; this is a blog). I watched Terminal Velocity with naught but the intention to roundly eviscerate it and score some cheap laughs at Charlie Sheen’s expense. This is, after all, an all-but-forgotten 1994 thriller that was all-but-forgotten by…well, a month later in 1994. It would be easy to say that this movie went splat like one of the hapless skydivers that the plot centers around, but that would imply the movie had some weight. In fact, this movie more blew away in the wind like one of those skydivers—if they were full of helium (shit, that started so good). Alas, gentle reader, I come here today not to bury Terminal Velocity, but to praise it, for this movie is utterly brainless, totally improbable, and a lot of fun.
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The hunt for a new action hero: “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

January 19, 2014

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After more than a decade hiatus, CIA analyst Jack Ryan–Tom Clancy’s signature creation—is back on the screen. First embodied by Alec Baldwin nearly 25 years ago in a career-making (and, perversely enough, career-derailing) performance in The Hunt for Red October, the role then went to the more appropriate, but less interesting Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. An attempt to reboot the character was made in 2002 when Ben Affleck stepped into the role in The Sum of All Fears, and that went about as well as everything else Affleck did in the 2000s. Now, Hollywood as decided to reboot the reboot with Chris Pine stepping in to retcon the character yet again in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This time, however, the results are far more positive.
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