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We open on a sweeping helicopter zipping up to a green mountain and also some cars that are also zipping around this mountain. It’s Bond, and he’s being chased by some dudes that are firing machine guns at him and fucking up stuff in general. A truck is hit and crashes into Bond and he spins out, and his driver’s side door disappears. It’s one of those narrow mountain roadways and this is coming across like a level from Burnout Revenge. The cops spot this wild chase and get in on the action as well because it’s not like Bond has enough on his plate at the moment.

He drives through a construction site that looks like an archaeological dig and zooms down a dirt path while the cops get shot by the bad guys and fall off the side of a mountain. Bond just keeps driving though because a Bond’s gotta do what a Bond’s gotta do. Taking out a machine gun, Bond blows the baddies off the side of the mountain and I guess that’s that for now. He drives into Siena, Italy (I know because the name of the place comes up in a fancy Dan font on-screen) and drives down a secret tunnel because he’s Batman And hey! There’s Bond with that cur Mr. White from the last movie! So I guess this all takes place like an hour after the last movie ended.

The opening sequence starts and oh boy, I’m not sure how I feel about this theme song. It’s very 2009 and I’m trying to figure out who the singer is. Is it Jack White? Is this The Dead Weather? Anyway, the credit imagery is OK, I mean it looks like a Bjork music video from the mid-90’s, which I usually love but this is a Bond movie, not some Icelandic weirdo’s nightmare. And indeed it’s a Jack White song, and it’s a duet with Alecia Keyes. I haven’t seen a musician who loves a kick drum stutter more than Jack White since Led Zeppelin. The song is what it is, I suppose. Anyway, it’s over with, which is nice.

Back to the movie proper, and we’re in Italy and Bond is setting up the torture instruments for Mr. White. M is there as well, and she’s scowling like usual (what is she, my ex-wife?). Anyway, M says Bond looks like shit, which is one of the nicer things she’s said to Bond in these movies, and she’s doing some exposition about some dude that must be dead but he’s not or whatever. M says can I trust you, Bond, considering that lady you loved was a traitor and are you sure you don’t want revenge? Bond takes a swig of booze and says I’m cool.

Interrogation time! They ask who do you work for, Mr. White? And he just laughs like a goon while shots of some stupid thing happening outside is shown. He laughs and laughs and says you guys really are stupid, aren’t you? And of course one of the agents at the interrogation is a traitor who shoots some of the people in the room and goes to escape through this crazy dungeon while we’re intercut with a horse race of some sort. Bond chases and chases through this crazy ancient tunnel system after the assassin while all of these Italians outside just go bonkers over some stupid horse race and Bond shoves his way through this crowd.

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“You stupid idiots: I’ll be dead soon while you’ll all be stuck living! Fools.”

The dude he’s chasing starts firing randomly into the crowd as distraction and then runs up more stairs and hallways and some such. Now onto tiled roofs where they jump and run and other crap keeps happening while Bond almost slides off of a roof. I’ve noticed that they love their parkour in these newer Bond films. Bond jumps on the back of a truck and climbs up a pipe and the secret assassin just keeps jumping and shooting and running. Bond starts ringing a bell and now the bad guy’s up in the belltower. He and Bong start fighting and fall like 30 feet through a glass dome and onto some scaffolding, which they just smash to bits while sliding around this crazy pulley systems of which they also fight on.

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Pulley fight!

Well, they keep bouncing up and down and around and around and Bond’s got his leg tied up while hanging upside down trying to reach for his gun, and the other guy scrambles first but sure enough, Bond fires first. CUT TO Bond walking back to their secret torture location looking even more like beat-up hell and finds that M is already gone, as are the bodies. CUT TO London, where Bond goes up to the traitor’s apartment, which is getting looked over by MI-6’s forensics team. M can’t believe that traitor dude that worked for her 8 years as her personal bodyguard and what the hell this organization is that has people everywhere (I bet it’s SPECTRE). Back at MI-6, some dude jib-jabs some information to M while some dork says we have some forensic information for you. So fine, let’s just go look at this now.

They show off on this table-sized touch screen something about marked bills that they’ve put into circulation to track something-or-other, and then we’re in Port Au Prince, Haiti. That’s like three location changes in ten minutes. Bond has his vacation clothes on as he goes to some dude’s apartment or whatever to kill him or question him or kiss him or who knows what. He breaks in and casually looks around until this guy comes at him with a knife. They smash nearly everything in the apartment and it’s more incredibly violent hand-to-hand combat. The window budget in these movies must be enormous. Bond stabs him in the neck and hasn’t gotten any information from him, so good job, Bond? With the guy lying dead on the balcony, Bond just puts on his clothes and takes over his identity because he’s a complete sociopath. He goes downstairs, retrieves the briefcase that was meant for old Neck Stab, and goes outside.

Standing outside for just a second, a woman in a silly little car zooms up and says “get in” so he gets in because why the hell not, let’s see where this goes. He sneakily pick-pockets something from her handbag and says they haven’t settled on a price. He opens the suitcase and she says what the hell is this because there’s a gun and her photo in the suitcase. She tries to shoot him first but he smacks her hand away and gets out of the car. She drives away kind of casually and then some dude that was following them on a motorcycle comes up to him and says you were supposed to kill him stupid, so Bond flips him off the bike and takes it for himself. Then he follows the lady in the car. Bond’s pretty damn adept at just kind of picking up and going with the flow.  

Car Lady gets back to her workplace and stomps up to her boss, who looks somewhat surprised to see her, what not being dead and all. He says sorry about trying to kill you but that’s why you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure. She says I was trying to figure out who the leak in your operation was and he says no worries, let’s just walk outside where all of my armed guards are. Bond hangs out on his cycle across the way and watches as they stand on the dock and looks at a dude that’s now drowned underwater. It turns out to be the geologist that Bond just iced and she says hey, let’s not worry about this and be pals still, eh? He says something about sleeping with him to get to some general dude, who’s just pulling up in a boat, and Bond gives a guard his card for Universal Exports. They call it to check it out and of course there’s a phony front because this isn’t their first spy dance.

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Universal Exports: We’re Totally Real And Not A Front!

The General talks with this jerky bad guy about whatever the hell it is they’re doing, destabilizing the government, who knows. I guess the general’s trying to take over Bolivia. Jerky Bad Guy wants a desert for payment, some worthless land, and the general says that’s stupid because that desert’s worthless so I guess, weirdo. Car Lady stands to the side while we get some exposition about her between Jerk Bad Guy and the general. Jerk trades her to the general as a bonus for their deal and these people are all weirdos. But they’re bad people so I guess that goes with the territory. Bond shoves off on his motorcycle while Car Lady is loaded onto the general’s boat. Jerk Bad Guy waves goodbye as they sail away and Bond zooms on his bike onto a boat to follow them because he just does whatever he wants 24/7.

So what does he do? He crashes the fucking boat into the side of the general’s boat, grabs Car Lady, and they start motor boating away. The general sends his goons towards them while Car Lady fights Bond because he’s a stranger that just kidnapped her off of a boat, after all. So it’s a boat chase that involves the bad guys firing automatic weapons at Bond and tries to ram his boat, and Car Lady’s not useless since she clubs some dudes that sidle up to their boat with a crowbar. Bond rams the bad guys’ boats, capsizing one and blowing up the engine of another like it’s the Stunt Show Spectacular at Universal Studios (I’ve done that line before in these recaps, but whenever they’re doing boat-related stunts in these movies it really does look like that). Anyway, Bond flips the last boat in this level and zooms away like it’s the opening credits to Miami Vice. Haiti looks beautiful but I know better. Just saying.

Bond hands off the now-unconscious Car Lady to some porter on the docks, explaining she’s seasick, and then just up and steals the first car he sees. Driving through the streets of Haiti, he gets M on the horn and asks for them to search Dominic Greene, but they’re not finding anything. M asks what happened with the guy we sent you to check out and he’s like he’s goddamn dead, let’s not dwell on the past. Anyway, turns out Greene runs Greene Planet, which is funny to me because that’s a local coffee chain in my area and not a dude trying to buy up large tracts of land for nefarious purposes. Or aren’t they? Anyway, this dude is of extreme interest to some governments and Bond follows them to the airport, finding out where they’re headed. They charter Bond a plane and Dominic Greene gets on the plane with the same person who just told M they have no interest in them because everyone’s a bad guy.

On the plane, this businessman, Greene, and hey! Felix Leiter is there, as well! Exposition time! So America doesn’t stop a coup from happening in Bolivia and in exchange they give America the exclusive rights to the oil in the country. Greene says whatever, I’m just surprised Felix Leiter is here presiding over this crooked shit. Greene shows a picture of Bond to the mustache government man and they throw it over to Leiter and ask if they know him. Leiter lies and Greene says get rid of that guy for me, yes? Leiter doesn’t seem too thrilled but you know, work is work.

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“How long until Westworld? A decade? Damn.”

Later, as some soiree, Bond stands looking like the king of the planet in a tux and also like he’s going to pass out. He follows a dude for his gift bag, kills him, breaks off the bathroom’s handle, and then starts zipping around in scaffolding. The editing of this movie doesn’t provide much in the way of exposition of what’s going on. But now Bond’s behind the stage and listens in on a secret meeting that’s happening with people at the concert using secret transmitters about pipelines and transferring money and who goddamn knows. Bad stuff with bad guys and money. Bond breaks in on the conversation and says these people should find a better place to meet and all of the people involved start getting up like idiots to leave, which just helps Bond identify all of them with his fancy camera, which uploads the pics to MI-6 for identification. On his way out, Bond kills a dude that’s in his way because his hands just do that automatically.

Bond sees Greene and his goons in the lobby and Bond shoots and fights his way through a crowded restaurant while the opera that’s being performed is intercut, and this is kind of giving me a headache. Between writing and watching this, my brain’s getting pulled in a few directions during this scene. Bond grabs one of the goons and holds him over the edge of a building, where he asks who he’s working for. Then Bond drops him off the side of a building like Roger Moore’s Bond did back in The Spy Who Loved Me, which is a nice callback. He lands on Greene’s car, who has one of his goons shoot him. Bond’s framed for the shooting, but Bond didn’t shoot him–he just dropped him off the roof. Big difference!

M tells Bond that he shot a dude that’s a member of their secret whatever and they decide to restrict Bond’s movement by cancelling his cards and he’s just screwed at the airport now. Undeterred, Bond tells the clerk at the airport that she’s going to be getting a phone call in a second and to tell them that he’s headed to Cairo. But fuck you, M, because CUT TO Bond in Italy because he’s sneaky and must have run up to a plane taking off and hidden in its wheel well for the duration of the flight. Bond shows up at Mathis’ door (the guy from the last movie) and we get some backstory as to what he’s been up to from the last movie. Bond asks for a passport and credit card and Mathis says well that’s too bad, buddy. They wah-wah about heroes and villains and Vesper and other stuff that doesn’t involve the plot of this movie. Bond gives him some pictures of those dudes he identified and the Tiara project and I don’t know, I really don’t.

Bond asks Matthis to come with him and help him, Bond downs the last of his wine, and CUT TO somewhere, where he’s now drinking a martini. Matthis is there and Bond is drinking his signature drink, which they handily list off the ingredients. Bond is left awake and Matthis ended up coming with him after all and I’m thinking that I’m watching a heavily edited version of the movie because it’s jumping all over the place (I’m watching this on DailyMotion because I couldn’t find a copy on any legit streaming service that didn’t ask me to spend $14 to buy it).

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Martinis: for the best of times. Or worst of times. Or whenever, really, who cares.

Anywhoo, walking through an airport, some field agent from London called Fields intercepts Bond and tells him that he has to get on a plane and go back to London ASAP. He says sure sure, let’s just go for a taxi ride. Meanwhile, the taxi driver is jabbering on about melting glaciers, Matthis is on the phone, and it’s all rather confusing. They go to some shitty hotel and Bond doesn’t like the looks of it so he just turns right the fuck around and goes back to the taxi. Bond says let’s have some goddamn self-respect for ourselves and stay at a nicer place. So CUT TO a nicer place because Bond has some goddamn style. This Agent Fields is a drip but I’m sure Bond’s style will rub off on her (no sexual pun intended, but what the hell, sure it was). She looks around like she’s lived in a goddamn cardboard box her whole life while Bond asks her to help him find the damn stationary, lady.

LATER: Bond answers the door shirtless to Matthis, and he’s gotten an invitation to a Greene Planet party. And Bond has already slept with the agent because of course and invites her to the party. Not the pants party: they already threw that one. So CUT TO (jeez o peez film, can we slow down a bit?) said Greene Planet party. Fields and Bond grab a drink and listen to that maniac Greene giving a speech from a balcony like he’s Mussolini. Fields and Bond meet some general that Matthis knows that lets Bond know he’s there to help Bond out however he can, so Matthis is probably going to double-cross him, right? And is Fields going to double-cross him, too? IS EVERYONE GOING TO DOUBLE-CROSS BOND? Probably. Oh, and that Car Lady from earlier is still alive and there at the party. And Felix Leiter’s there! Bond cruises through the crowd like he’s a panther and Greene lets Car Lady know that he’s going to throw her over the balcony but Bond steps in to stop this little bit of homicide from occurring. Bond and Greene have a little menacing meeting and walk away from this creep and Fields trips a dude walking down the stairs opposite her for fun and profit. Bond leaves with Car Girl and explains that she’s going to show him what the hell this Tiara Project is. They take off and two motorcycles start following them.

It’s la policia! Bond steps out of the car and hands over his license. They ask him to open the trunk and whoops! It’s Mathis, who’s now dead in the trunk. Way to get set up, Bond! They tell him to take Mathis out of the trunk but use this as an excuse to shoot him. But Bond uses Matthis as a human shield and then kills the two police. Mathis is still alive, a little bit, and Bond cradles him in his arms, which is one of the nicer moments that New Bond’s had in this series. Mathis lets him know that he was a secret agent, too, and they forgive each other for past trespasses. Mathis asks Bond to forgive Vesper and to forgive himself and dies in Bond’s arms and it’s a pretty affecting moment. So how does Bond punctuate this tender exchange? By dumping Mathis’ dead body into a dumpster. Same old sociopathic Bond.

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*record scratch* *freeze frame* Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.

Elsewhere, M is informed that Mathis has been shot in Bolivia and the police are saying it’s Bond. CUT TO the desert where Bond has driven with Car Lady (sorry, still don’t have her name). He gets into an old Douglas DC-3 to fly away from his feelings and the crumb bum that traded him the plane is calling someone. The woman that’s with Bond appears to be with Bolivian Secret Service and they kind of banter for a bit. Bond notices sinkholes all over the place and then his plane is shot at. Bond’s plane starts going down and he tries not to die as usual. And this is a first for me: being able to skip describing a plane chase! So Bond’s plane is chased and shot at and blah blah blah, we get it. Bond tosses a parachute to Car Lady (I’m so sorry) and wings a helicopter that’s been chasing them along with the plane. He steers straight up, the engines fail, and Bond slides down and jumps out of the plane with the lady. They’re falling fast and he’s trying to grab hold of the person with the parachute and they fall into one of them there sinkholes. The open the parachute like 100 feet from the ground and somehow survive.

M goes in to get chewed out by the Minister about Bond’s murder spree and says we don’t care about Greene anymore, dig? Bring Bond in now, darnit. Back in the crevasse, it’s night and Bond’s trying to find a way out of this mess. He gives the cold Car Lady (that’s it, I have to go search her name, this is getting ridiculous) Kurylenko and she tells of the reason why she’s doing all of this: revenge for the awful general she met in the beginning because she killed and violated her family. Bond fucked up her chance to kill him. Great job, James. They get to stepping to get the hell out of this place.

Bond does a little thinking and finds that these sinkholes were made by dynamite and sees a giant underground water reservoir and puts it together that Greene is trying to get to the water. Above ground, a bunch of natives are sadly looking for water and Bond and Kurylenko walk across the desert like it’s a goddamn Sting video (Lady Gaga video? My references are out-of-date because time is an arrow that only flies forward). They hop on a bus and skedaddle down the road.

Back at the swanky hotel, Bond gets a message from his “wife” Fields (which says RUN in child-like handwriting) and Bond heads up to his room alone. Inside is M and some agents and Bond asks what the fudge is going on. M gives Bond an earful about his rage and revenge issues and just then Bond spots Fields, who’s dead on the bed in a little Goldfinger homage. M asks why the fuck did he mess with this woman? She worked in a darn office, you sick fool. M suspends Bond from duty and leaves with the agents. Oh, and he’s handcuffed as well. So what does he do? He beats the shit out of all of them with his hands behind his back, takes his weapon, and goes on his merry killing spree way.  

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Maybe she just fell into the Gulf Coast…

Bond goes up to M and says I’m seeing this through, lady, and he sneaks his way across from the agents and M tells the other agents to back off because Bond’s true blue, cuz. Meanwhile, Kurylenko zips up from nowhere in a car, becoming Car Lady again, and picks up Bond. In a shitty hotel, Felix picks up a phone and it’s Bond calling his old pal. Bond says meet me somewhere and we’ll sort this whole crazy mess out, friend. In some dive bar, Bond awaits Leiter, and there he is! I’ve liked Geoffrey Rush so much since Basquiat, I’m happy to see him as Leiter. Bond gives him some shit about getting in league with Greene but Leiter’s like, hey man, that’s how Americans do things. Bond figures that Leiter didn’t come alone and Bond’s got 30 seconds head start.

Indeed, 30 seconds later gunfire erupts and Bond splits and punches guys in the throat and jumps across buildings and all of the other things that James Bond does. Leiter goes back to his crappy partner and they split. FADE TO the goddamn desert again and it’s that asshole general from the beginning. They have a nice compound out here in the desert and this general’s doing like a Dennis Hopper kind of performance, which is pretty cool. Bond’s also in the desert just outside of the compound with Kurylenko, who’s putting a gun together. Bond gives her a secret agent pep talk about killing the guy she’s after while Greene arrives to start this for-profit environmental catastrophe. Greene strolls up eating an apple and looking like a smug snake. He brings his $10 million Euro bribe for the president and is waiting for the general to sign the darn contract for the land. As he does, Greene informs him that Greene now owns 60% of Bolivia’s water supply and he’s jacking up the price of water from that moment onward. By the way, this is based on an actual thing that happened in real-life, a private company owned a lot more of the water supply and quadrupled the price. I guess they toned it down for the film because the reality would sound too outrageous. Oh, reality, where did you go wrong?

Kurylenko steels herself for her big kill while the general rapes some poor young woman in his room. Bond shoots as many people as possible within 30 seconds and explosions rip through the compound because this action is explosive. Kicking ass and taking no names, Bond rips through the compound and Kurylenko kills the general’s guards while Greene cowardly runs through the compound. The poor young woman escapes the room while Kurylenko is beaten by the general and more explosions occur…for some reason. Something about the fuel cells or I don’t know because explosions are cool?

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This situation’s rather explosive. Things are getting fired up. I’ll stop.

Bond catches up with Greene, who like a jerk hits him with a pipe and then tries to kill him with an ax while Kurylenko gains the upper hand briefly with the general, who throws her through a glass table. Bond and Greene just keep fighting and almost dying of explosions. Kurylenko stabs the general in the back, Greene is a surprisingly good fighter for a businessman but axes his own foot like a goof. Kurylenko gets a gun on the general and Bond hears a shot go off; Kurylenko killed the guy that she wanted to kill! Hooray! (What am I applauding here?) Bond ditches Greene to check on Kurylenko like a fool, and she’s getting trapped in the burning wreckage and fire. Bond walks through fire to get to her because he’s nigh invincible while she just kind of cowers and waits for death. He finds her and tries to find a way out of this flaming hellscape while she silently melts down. Bond’s about to blow both their brains out but fortunately (?) Bond shoots a fire extinguisher or something, which makes it go boom and blows a hole through the wall.

Now in the desert, he tells Kurylenko to wait while Bond goes after Greene, who’s limping through the desert. Bond had picked Greene up in the car and took him out to the desert to kill him after he got the information he wanted. He just dumps him in the middle of the desert with an energy drink, knowing that he’ll die just from being stuck out there, and then drives off because fuck that guy. Back in town, Bond drives up to a train yard with Kurylenko and he looks like he was just in a giant fistfight and a bunch of explosions. He and Kurylenko have a terse conversation about revenge and how it’s not all cracked up to be, kiss, and she kicks rocks.

Back in Russia (what?), Bond sits in a darkened room, in a nice callback to the opening scene of Casino Royale. There’s the agent from something, I don’t remember what, some traitor asshole, and Bond has a gun on him. Oh, it’s Vesper’s boyfriend! That asshole that feigned his kidnapping to manipulate her! Bond tells this asshole’s new girlfriend that he knows she’s Canadian intelligence and that they’ve been compromised. She leaves, whispering thank you because Bond’s that irresistible, and Bond splits without killing him but having agents taking him into custody. M is outside, asks if Bond has any regrets, and he says no way, Jose. She also lets us know that they found Greene dead in the middle of the desert with two bullets in his head and a quart of motor oil in his stomach. Also, Leiter’s been promoted, and Bond lets M know that she was right about Vesper not being a dirty crook. M says she needs Bond back, he says he had never left, and he leaves Vesper’s necklace in the snow. AND THAT’S THE DARK, SAD ENDING TO THIS BOND FILM!

Stray Notes

  • I kind of like that Bond doesn’t get the girl at the end of any of these films. In fact, he’s mostly been used and heartbroken by the end. I guess this explains why he becomes such a heartless womanizer in the franchise retroactively, since this is him early in his career. The reboot is pretty darn smart.
  • Turns out this wasn’t a heavily edited version of the movie; it was just a surprisingly short Bond film. Maybe the shortest? At least one of the shortest. It’s a really fast-paced film.
  • Apparently this is the most violent Bond film of all time, and boy do I believe it.
  • The closer these films get to contemporary times, the more violent they get. And they’re very slick. It’s one of those things where the past looks old and the new looks new. But then again, of course I do. And water is wet.

Conclusions

Another slam-bang action flick in the reboot of the series, it’s a slick action flick and Craig’s characterization of Bond is still spot-on. As a sociopath, which Bond would have to be to do his job so well, Craig plays it to perfection. Even the stakes are high: the water supply for an entire country being privatized? Bond wanting to find revenge on those who wronged him and killed the woman he loved? Finding out what this secret organization is that’s been infiltrating MI-6? All great motivations.

I’m not crazy about the very, very quick pace of the film, but that has more to do with that making it difficult to keep up with the recap when it’s moves so fast. I’m sure if I was watching it without doing this during the viewing, I’d have appreciated the pace more.

I don’t know what else to say: it’s a fun action flick and a pretty solid Bond. The contemporary Bond films have a distinct advantage over the older ones because they can be as violent and explicit as they want without having to worry about any prude hang-ups of the times (mostly because there are very few prudish elements left in this world). It brings Bond up to the 21st century, which actually works because seeing an untethered Bond is a lot of fun, especially if you like the more extreme and cold-hearted Bonds like Dalton and Connery, which I do.

Rating

Maybe not as great as Casino Royale, but still pretty damn fun and slick, I liked it a lot. I give it three out of four Bonds. See you next time for Skyfall, which I hear is fantastic.

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