Now begins the homage to the Connery era portion of our program. Interior Orient Express (or a cheap approximation of it), Craig hands off his white dinner jacket (wink) to a porter asking to have it pressed. I’m amazed to find Moroccan desert trains to nowhere have full service valets, whereas if you asked for valet service on an Amtrak train here in the States, you’d be told to go park your own car! Craig reaches the door to their cabin and knocks 3 times before entering, (wink) which is ridiculous because the front of the cabin is one large window, Swann can see out to the next county let alone who’s approaching the cabin!
Craig places a large pistol on the desk between them and breathlessly says “Pick it up”, Swann replies “I hate guns”. Craig continues “I promised him I’d protect you” This again! You’re still clinging to your empty promise to protect a terrorist’s daughter? You’ve proven time and time again you have no regard for your oath to the crown, so why are you so dedicated to this crumb? If you want to protect her fine, do it because you want her to live, not this labored “promise”!
Craig continues with his rudimentary firearms instruction, during which Swann repeats she hates guns. At this point Craig sets a loaded firearm in front of a novice and tells her to “Try it”. Please shoot him, please shoot him! After a pregnant pause, she picks up the gun and removes the magazine, racks the slide ejecting the live round from the chamber and squeezes the trigger while pointing the gun straight up, in that old trope where the supposed amateur proves their expertise through demonstration (Clumsily I might add). Wink to Goldeneye where Natalia did the same thing in the elevator.
Craig realizes through this awkward demonstration that Swann is some sort of weapons expert, when all she proved is she saw an action movie once. She goes on to dramatically explain how a man came to kill her father when she was a child and she in turn shot the assassin. Yawn.
Cut to a London restaurant where M is finishing his meal. He is disturbed by Q and Moneypenny who recap the story so far, M states that they cannot help Craig as they would be more of a liability than assistance. M says “C is watching everything we do, we’d only be handing them more information.” Huh? Handing who, Her Majesty’s government? While the C character resides in a cloud of sulfur and screams “corrupt double agent” they have not established that yet. This should be the perfect opportunity to prove the 00 section is viable, that is unless C is a double agent, but as I said nobody should know that yet!
Cut to the dining car of the “Orient Express”, Craig sits there in his Goldfinger dinner jacket, complete with red carnation (wink), looking pasty as ever, when Swann enters in a satin gown that looks remarkably like the nighty she wore in Tangiers. This is all rather comical as their clothing suggests a grand ball, but they are only one of three couples in a dining car on a Moroccan desert train, why bother? Sweat pants and a T-shirt would be classier than the location deserves. She reaches the table and says “You shouldn’t stare” Craig replies “You shouldn’t look like that.” Ugh, suddenly I find myself in Iowa, as I’m surrounded by corn! I mean really, you had 4 writers work on this “film” for the better part of 3 years and that’s the best you could do! Craig offers her an aperitif to which she says “I don’t know, they get me in to trouble, make me do crazy things”, you mean like go to bed in one outfit and wake up in another, such as you did after a glass of wine in the last scene?
She orders a “dirty martini”, to which Craig says “Make that two”, so much for Fleming’s Bond! The man who “…takes a great deal of pleasure in what I eat and drink”. Bond didn’t just knock back “Whatever she’s having”, he would have specified “Medium dry vodka martini, shaken until ice cold, add a thick slice of lemon peel”. This over time has been shortened to “Shaken not stirred”, but you get the point, he’s not swilling dirty martinis or cosmos or whatever, especially as they established last scene this is a suicide mission, very well making this his last drink.
Swann asks, “Given every other possible option why would one choose the life of a paid assassin?” Here we go again! That old assassin rubbish! (See my earlier take on this B.S.) This exceptionally stilted dialog meanders in to themes of free will and choice, suggesting Craig is unhappy with his life choices. When James bloody Bond is unhappy with where life has taken him, you’ve really jumped the nihilism shark! Every boy’s fantasy is a “sad”, “lonely”, “pathetic”, “loser”? Really?!?! I’m sorry; the next sound you hear will be the cocking of a pistol and a self-inflicted gunshot, because apparently life is not worth living anymore! At least according to Babzy, Mendes, and EON. I believe it was Nostradamus who famously said “When James Bond dislikes being James Bond, the seventh seal has been broken and the end is nigh!”
Swann goes on about choice, and how he has the choice to end his career. Again most men would give their eye teeth to be Bond, the ultimate fantasy come to life, and they act like he has cancer! Besides, all this existentialism is moot as Craig’s Bond has already quit, TWICE! Once in the previous film! Throughout this cut rate pop-psych 101 lesson Swann begins to soften on Craig, I guess finding a secret room, talking ballistics, and discussing existential nihilism can have that effect on women, I should know I met my wife the same way!
Suddenly through all this tender emptiness Hinx comes crashing up from behind. I guess Swann was too lost in Craig’s baggy eyes to notice a 6’6” 300 pound man come charging down the aisle. They become embroiled in combat on the “Orient Express” (wink) which is now deserted. They crash around the dining car and in to the next, through the kitchen, then finally to the baggage car, with nary a soul around. Throughout the fight there is no sense of danger. Obviously Hinx is meant as an interpretation of the henchmen of old, Oddjob, Jaws, and Red Grant, but whereas those men exuded menace, and gave a feeling of impending danger, that sensation is lost here. Poor film making and Bourne style shaky cam aside, I think a lot of this has to do with the size of the men involved. Dave Bautista is head and shoulders taller than Craig (literally) however this was never established, as the men never stood near each other, so when they roll around in a series of quick, shaky jump cuts, filmed at low angles, all you see is their girth. Craig being ominous henchman sized himself detracts from the sense of doom one should feel in this sort of fight.
Compare this to the fight with Oddjob, he was much shorter than Connery but his girth gave him an aura of invincibility. Jaws was a gigantic man even compared to Moore’s 6’ 2” frame. Just look at the scene in The Spy Who Loved Me where Jaws picks up Moore and holds him above his head, his hand is massive, covering Moore’s entire face! Even Red Grant on whom this scene is shamelessly ripping off had a sense of imposition, despite Robert Shaw and Connery being evenly sized Shaw expressed his mania through dialog. This fight is just another example of how far Mendes is out of his depth.
As Hinx is about to toss Craig off the train like the bad rubbish that he is, Swann the “pistol expert” crashes in and despite having the element of surprise and close range, nicks Hinx in the shoulder, hardly phased he runs behind some crates, where he pushes them on top of her. Hinx jumps out after the boxes and grabs her by the throat beginning to choke her, when Craig pops up and wraps a rope around Hinx’s neck. In the struggle a metal beer keg gets knocked off the train (probably full that fine Heineken™ nectar!), another soon follows, as it and those beside are chained together, another falls (I think you can see where this is going). Hinx who comically still has this rope around his neck all this time, realizes what is going on, then says his one line, “shit” before being dragged out himself. Oh fun!
Swann turns to Craig and asks “What do we do now?” Cut to Craig and Swann crashing through the door of their cabin locked in each other’s arms “passionately” kissing. I suppose killing a man is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Craig gropes at her like a post pubescent getting lucky for the first time after prom. Watching him, you’d think this guy never touched a woman before. As Swann tears his clothes off he stops her, smooths back her hair then kisses her, I suppose Mendes, the auteur felt this particularly passionate, as he has Craig do this twice in rapid succession.
Well, so much for all that rubbish M spouted off earlier about not being able to help Craig! Hinx found him with no problem! Not only do they know he is coming, laughably, as we’ll see in the next installment, Craig will be counting on it! Sending in the Royal Marines wouldn’t have hurt!