“Make it stop! So many washed out gray interiors!“
Sorry for the delay gang, this film is an absolute act of drudgery to slog through, let’s see if we can push through the bulk of what’s remaining.
Okay, where were we? Last time, the Craig-Bond and 007 were just about to drop out of the back of the Royal Air Force cargo plane in their fold-able Swiss Army glider. But before they do we smash cut to Satan Safin, Madeline Swann and her gosling Mathilde on the island. They are met by Dr. Borat who welcomes Safin and his “family” before handing him a red vial containing the weaponized DNA of Madeline and Mathilde. They continue making their way to Safin’s father’s “garden of death” an obvious reference to the novel You Only Live Twice. However unlike the novel, where this garden is a large park like expanse, here it consists of three fichus and a jacuzzi.
Boy, what a green thumb you must have!
Safin takes the young Mathilde away from her mother in order to give her a closer look at the dangerous fauna. Swann exclaims, “How damaged you must be to threaten a little girl.” To which I ask, did you forget how he threatened you when you were not much older, in a much more physical way at the start of this film? Safin responds, “You’re any less damaged? You love a killer (this again?!). You bore his child despite his rejection, you’ve hidden and lied your whole life. You’ll do anything…” She finishes the statement for him, “To survive.” This raises a rather disturbing question, what did Swann have to do in order to survive her first encounter with Safin and why is he so obsessed with her because of it? According to the script Swann was 12 at the time (the actress playing the girl was in reality 9) the fact this grown man became so infatuated with her at this tender age is extremely disgusting.
Safin explains not all of his plants are poisonous, one will cause compliance and at this he orders Popeye to take Swann away and give her some tea. Swann protests but is dragged away, as she goes she says to Mathilde, “Remember what I told you! I’ll come looking for you! Okay?” As well see later, this is meant as a cheap explanation as to how a 5 year old is able to elude detection in a villain’s lair, spoiler alert she hides under a table.
Back to the Craig-Bond and 007as they glide toward Safin’s island passing right by the front of the the main structure.
Forget getting spotted by radar, you can see them with the naked eye at this range.
The craft descends to the sea and lands, folding the wings inward and submerges! Yes this is in fact a folding glider submarine!
The bizarre thing is it was totally unnecessary, in no way does this craft being able to submerge play a role in the story since they just rock up to an abandoned unguarded pier without a challenge.
Say what you want about the crap CGI in Die Another Day, 20 years later they haven’t spent another nickel to improve!
One has to wonder at this point why are these two going at it alone? Why is MI6 and by extension the British Government entrusting the future of mankind to an alcoholic pensioner who has been out of service for 5 years and a neophyte with little more than 2 years of experience? Surely a battalion of Royal Marines would come in handy when storming the stronghold of a megalomaniacal madman in possession of a weapon of mass destruction? I’m reminded of a comment I read recently on one of many videos excoriating this film. I wish I could remember which one because I’d really like to do the comment justice, but I suppose I’ll have to settle for paraphrasing. A Craig-Era apologist quipped how they were “glad the days of two opposing factions squaring off in color coordinated boiler suits, so you could tell apart (like the military?) had come to an end.” To which I say yeah the 70’s were a wild time, but just because the execution was at one time a bit corny doesn’t negate the concept’s viability. After all wouldn’t a team of commandos besieging the villain’s fortress be, dare I say, more realistic? Isn’t that the phrase de rigueur for the Craig-Era.
“Gritty, feet picking, realism bro!”
Anyway, our brave duo disembark the flying submarine and move deeper into the villain’s lair, setting up the Q-dar as they go. We cut back to the MI6 command center where the Q-dar map has gone live, we can see the Craig-Bond represented as a blue trident (in reference to the one held by Britannia in the titles) and 007 is represented by, and I kid you not, a pink vagina!
Don’t believe me?
The two make their way up a large spiral staircase to what is described in the script as:
“The Bacteria Farm”
Though you’d never know it from the film as it’s never mentioned. Why you would need to “farm” bacteria for your mechanically based “nanobot” weapon is beyond me. Unless, you don’t suppose there were re-writes afoot?
Beyond the “farm” the Craig-Bond and 007 come upon Dr. Borat and several scientists in their lab. The two agents crash in, corral the technicians into a corner of the lab, take custody of Dr. Borat and plant explosives throughout the space. As the dust settles the two agents realize the scope of Safin’s plan. Now normally in these sorts of plots where the villain holds some sort of massive weapon, their scheme involves either using the weapon to destroy/reshape the world (The Spy Who Loved Me/Moonraker) or cashing in by blackmail or selling it to the highest bidder (Thunderball/The Man With The Golden Gun). So what does Safin have planned for this diabolical virus? Well hey, since more is better, why not both?! Yes this joker plans on not only eradicating half the population but getting rich while doing it! We see via animation in this scene he plans on unleashing the virus and murdering millions…
and in a short while we’ll be told he has buyers arriving to take delivery of the virus also!
A lot of good that cash is going to do while the world is burning down around you old Boy!
Also seems a bit dangerous giving a deadly virus out to other factions who could very easily turn it around on you!
After realizing Satan Safin’s Satanic plan they decide the entire facility must be destroyed and why that wasn’t the original plan all along is besides me, considering… you know… the place is a chemical weapons manufacturing plant! At this point Safin’s voice pipes into the room and he invites the Craig-Bond to meet him face to face in order to “discuss the matter like adults.” Guards surround the lab and the Craig-Bond hands the detonator to 007 before heading off to meet Safin.
“Best of luck lovie!”
Jump back to Swann who is seated in a cell with Popeye standing over her preparing the compliancy tea for her to drink. This Popeye character is a strange cat to nail down. Safin murders not only his boss but his entire organization yet this guy is willing to join him? It’s not as if he were just any henchman either, he was Bro-felds right eyed man, you’d think that’d buy a bit more loyalty. Then there’s the question as to why Safin would want to recruit this fella in the first place? Every time he’s been on screen he’s been absolutely useless, usually chasing his false eye around when it inevitably gets dislodged.
“I yam what I yam!”
At any rate he serves Swann the tea, apparently the writers are more self aware than I realized, as they have Swann ask him the same question I just did: “Do you trust him? He made me kill your last master. Why do you think he let you join him?” Unfortunately those questions are never answered, because screw you for asking that’s why! He insists she drink the tea, she makes a quip about how the tea will make you blind before flinging it into his face. This causes the supposed ruthless henchman to fling himself back and fall to the floor, reminding me of this scene from the film Naked Gun:
So just as at the start of the forest scene, Swann saves herself (until she didn’t), couple this with the absolutely asinine scene to come where Mathilde saves herself and one has to wonder what the hell is the Craig-Bond even doing here? He could have just gone back to his decrepit bachelor pad as depicted in Spectre, put his feet up on his wooden spool coffee table and waited for the girls to come home on their own!
“Oh good, you’re home, did you grab any take out on the way back?”
Back to the Craig-Bond entering Safin’s inner sanctum, he climbs some stairs to find Safin seated on the floor with Mathilde by his side and surrounded by 3 guards. Safin is cradling and caressing the little girl which is disturbing enough but when you reflect on his history with underaged girls as discussed a moment ago it’s even more offensive! The Craig-Bond puts down his rifle but demurs when ordered to relinquish his pistol. At this Safin tosses a pillow high in the air prompting his guards to shoot it to ribbons, he then grabs Mathilde by the scruff of her shirt as if to say she’s next, warning, “Careful, she’s as light as a feather.” Excuses me for a moment…
She ain’t that light old boy! I’m supposed to believe this noodle armed waif of a man is capable of tossing a 60 pound child five plus feet in the air with one arm while seated flat on his ass?! Believe that’s possible? Get a 10 pound sack of potatoes and sit flat on the ground, grab that bag by the drawstring and in one fell swoop lift it from the ground and toss it as high and as far as you can. Now multiply that by a factor of six and add the fact a toddler would be squirming and fighting the whole time as well as the fact we’re talking about a rail of a man here!
Not exactly George Atlas.
The two men begin some dialogue meant to sound “deep” and “profound” but is ultimately nonsense. Here see for yourself taken directly from the script:
James Bond. History of violence.
Licence to kill. Vendetta with
Ernst Blofeld. In love with
I could be speaking to my own
We’ve made slightly different
No, we’ve just developed different
methods for the same goal. Only
your skills die with your body,
mine will survive long after I’m
gone. And life is all about leaving
something behind, isn’t it?
This doesn’t have to get ugly. You
leave my baby alone, I’ll leave
yours. What you think?
I think you’re right.
I think we are the same.
We both know what it feels like to
have everything taken from us,
before we’re even in the fight.
It would have been nice to have a
chance, don’t you think? We all
should get a chance. But this thing
that you’re building, it puts
everyone — the whole world on a
battle field. Nobody gets a chance.
The thing that no one wants to
admit is that most people want
things to happen to them. We tell
each other lies about the fight for
free will and independence. But we
don’t really want that. We want to
be told how to live, and then die
when we are not looking. People
want oblivion, and a few of us are
born to build it for them. So here
I am: their invisible god, sneaking
under their skin.
You know that history isn’t kind to
those who play God.
And you don’t? We both eradicate
people to make the world a better
place. I just want to be a
little… tidier. Without
collateral. I want the world to
evolve. Yet you want it to stay the
This is the closest we get to any kind of explanation of what Safin’s end game is, can you tell me what it is? Honestly please, if you can tell me what this bloody weirdo wants! I get hints of Hugo Drax from the film Moonraker, but unlike Drax there’s no indication of what Safin want’s to replace society with. Not to mention the fact he’s selling the weapon for profit, so he’s not looking to totally supplant civilization.
In reality this whole conversation should be moot and have ended with a quick gunshot to the back of the Craig-Bond’s head when he entered the room. Safin has no motivation to dialogue with the Craig-Bond, he has no relationship with him other than he is the rival for his paramour. When he kidnapped Swann and her daughter he had to know the Craig-Bond wouldn’t be far behind and his plan to contend with him is a few mind games? It leads me to believe that perhaps Bro-fled was meant to be the big bad in this film and through one circumstance or another Christoph Waltz was not available to commit to the extended shoot time. As all this mind screwing would be right up his alley as established in Spectre (but this is just my personal suspicion). That begs the question why kidnap Swann now? Why not wait until after the grand scheme has come to fruition and the world is in chaos, surely someone “willing to do whatever is necessary to survive” would be much more pliable in the face of such daunting odds, plus he could have insured the Craig-Bond was out of the way. But what do I know I just have my head out of my backside.
Suddenly the Craig-Bond begins groveling and pleading before Safin to let him leave with Mathilde, this goes on an embarrassing amount of time, Safin lapping it up like a cat with a bowl of cream, when the scene reaches a point where it’s physically too much to bear, the Craig-Bond finally plays his card and produces a pistol he had secreted somewhere on his person. Considering the amount of begging and writhing he had to do to get his hand on it I hesitate to speculate where he had it hidden.
Remember when Bond wanted to get into a position of advantage to outsmart his foes he’d do it with a bit more decorum? For example in Die Another Day, Bond wants to apply his glass breaking ring to the floor beneath him to effect an escape, he could have fell to the ground and feigned a plea for his life, however instead he insults henchman Zao prompting him to hit Bond in the solar plexus and giving him the perfect opportunity to exercise his plan. Now instead we get an image we can’t unsee, that of “James Bond” (I use the name loosely) begging on his hands and knees for forgiveness. Considering he dies later on, is this meant as some form of repentance from the film makers?
Anyway after his groveling gambit he produces his gun and shoots the three guards but Safin slips away through a trap door with the little girl. Almost on cue Swann comes running in and asks, “James where is she?” To which the Craig-Bond responds with dull eyes and mouth agape.
Now for the most bizarre scene in an already bizarre film, we cut to Safin now moving quickly down a corridor amongst an entourage, Mathilde still in his clutches. Suddenly the girl says, “My Dou Dou” referring to her sock monkey which she lost, at this she bites Safin’s hand prompting him to set her down and says, “If you don’t want my protection, then off you go.” At which point she just toddles off down the passageway! That’s it? You took time out of you busy scheme to kidnap this girl and her mother and you’re just going to let her piss off down the hall? What was the bloody point?!
As the girl disappears off screen Safin shrugs and says, “Move, our first buyers are arriving.” So confirmation this guy is committing genocide and trying to turn a profit simultaneously!
“We here at the firm of Stromberg, Drax and Goldfinger know how to get the best return on investment for your holocaust.”
Jump to the MI6 team who are now alerted to the “buyer’s” incoming boats. Jump back to 007 and Dr. Borat who despite being surrounded last we saw, are now retreating down a gantry! Guards are closing in and Dr. Borat in his usual manner is making an annoying pest of himself:
“Pleaaaasee, leeeeet meeee gooooo, laaadyyy.”
Suddenly and inexplicably Dr. Borat goes from the cartoonish buffoon we’ve seen all film to an entirely altogether darker persona saying, “I don’t need laboratory to exterminate your entire race from the face of the earth!”
Where the bloody hell did that come from and why would he think that would help his plight? At this 007 says, “Do you know what time it is?” Dr. Borat replies, “Vhat?” She continues, “Time to die.” Before kicking Dr. Borat off the gantry and into the acidic bacteria farm below. Wow where to begin with this? The sharp shift from cartoonish buffoon to genocidal maniac is harsh, then to have him cast down into a vat of acid to die screaming in agony is somewhat off putting, happening all in an instant, way too quick for the audience to process! Then there’s her response to his disgusting declaration, immediate murder, no thought given to how valuable it may be to have the inventor of this blight on hand to work on an antidote for anyone who may contract it before the film is over?
Or how about the virus that has already been unleashed on the world? The Oberhauser clan has the cloud of death hanging over them and they haven’t a clue, any day the nanobot reaper can descend from the ether to claim Bro-feld’s third cousin twice removed and the same can be said one hundred fold for the distant relations of the SPECTRE agents killed in Cuba, hell we already got a taste of that earlier in this very film!
Back to the Craig-Bond and Swann franticly looking for their child, when she pops out from under a table they just passed. Mathilde states “I hid like you told me to.” As if this is some revelation, as if to say, “see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” being as we’ve been told and not shown how great Swann is at hiding, of course we know she got away because Safin couldn’t be arsed with her anymore.
“Happy trails young one!”
Back to Q in the Air Force transport, where they are getting “buzzed” by two Mig fighter jets, apparently the Russians and Japanese want to know what a British cargo plane is doing in the vicinity of their disputed island, nevermind all the extremely dubious activity actually happening on the island!
By my count I see 2 large freighters, 1 mid sized one, dozens of holding tanks and that’s not counting the craft that are currently inbound from the “buyers!”
One must also wonder why Q’s craft felt the need to stick so conspicuously close to the island to drum up suspicion? Back to the Bond family making their way down the corridor where they meet back up with 007. The Craig-Bond calls Q and asks if there are any Royal Navy craft nearby, Q replies “Yes, why?” The Craig-Bond continues, “We’re going to need an immediate strike on this location. This whole island is a manufacturing plant for Heracles.”
You mean to tell me you had no idea you may need more than two agents in cable knit sweaters and a handful of dynamite to destroy what you’ve shown to be a massive complex described in your earlier briefing as a “Chemical Weapons Manufacturing Plant?!”
“One well placed cherry bomb will do it!”
The Craig-Bond is informed about the encroaching “buyers” and a countdown commences, 20 minutes until they arrive… and…? Just blow them out of the water! They’re bloody terrorists or unsanctioned state operatives, either way nobody’s in a position to complain!
“You sank my terrorist!”
But no, for some reason, now that a few boats are coming he must go back and “finish this.” With the countdown clock now running the Craig-Bond gives his $500 N. Peal™ cable knit sweater to his daughter and trods off in his overalls looking very much like the Gordon’s fisherman.
“Straight from our line to your table!”
007 gives him the detonator for the explosives they set up ages ago, none of the henchmen thought it a good idea to disable those eh?
“Naw, we’ll get em’ later!”
So the Craig-Bond wades back into the fray and in the midst of copious gunfire he, M, Q and Tanner are having a discussion about the political ramifications of firing missiles onto this forsaken little rock. At one point M says this, “If we launch, the Russians, the Japanese and even the Americans will want answers.” You mean the Americans who were also after Dr. Borat and Heracles? I imagine that would be a rather short conversation then? The Craig-Bond continues mowing through scores of cannon fodder as he makes his way to the control room to open some “blast doors” because apparently the Royal Navy doesn’t have anything strong enough in their arsenal to penetrate century old concrete that had not only been abused by the hands of time and severe Northern Pacific weather, but also the corrosive salt air! Otherwise the bottle rockets fired by the HMS Safe-N-Sane will just bounce off!
“My word, this is serious, the Captain’s bypassed the sparklers and gone straight for the roman candles!”
As the Craig-Bond fights his way along he sees a large group of enemies about to engage him passing right near Dr. Borat’s lab containing all the explosives that by rights should have been removed by now. However, in a stroke of convenient luck he hits the detonator and BOOM goes the dynamite! At this point we begin the “stairway fight” you may have heard tail of. Some point to this as a bright spot in the film, personally I can take it or leave it, it’s an action scene like any other, gunfire, explosions, fisticuffs it’s competently done, but at the risk of sounding like the malcontent I am, I just don’t see the hype. I will say this though, I remember when these same voices were slagging Brosnan as “Machinegun Pierce” because of his action heavy films, but somehow now…
…it’s cute when Dan does it?
At the top of the stairs the Craig-Bond gets ambushed by Popeye. Here we go, the big henchman fight! Finally this guy is going to live up to his continued inclusion in the second half of this film right? Cause I gotta tell you friend, you been pretty underwhelming so far! And that’s when we find out precisely why this guy’s been allowed to stick around, the Craig-Bond quickly gets him in a choke hold, activates his EMP watch and explodes his bionic eye killing him.
Just so he can call in to Q and say, “I just showed someone your watch. It really blew their mind.”
In a perverse way I kind of appreciate the effort, unfortunately it’s just too clever by half. Way too long and unwieldly shoehorned in with a call to Q. The Craig-Bond should have just glanced down at the time and said, “Mind blowing” and left it at that. It’s quicker, snappier and gets the same joke across without all the dramatics and word play.
“Good morrow fine Q, I endeavored to display your fastidious timepiece to a gentleman when zounds and gadzooks if it didn’t cause his cranial cavity to burst forth in excitement!”
Once in the blast door control room the Craig-Bond in communication with Q starts pushing buttons and flipping switches while the young Quartermaster tries giving detailed instructions, the Craig-Bond 4-5 steps ahead finishes before Q can barely get started, why this is, why the Craig-Bond would know how to operate cold war Soviet technology decades older than himself makes no sense and is never addressed.
“Turn the crank and snap the plank and boot the marble right down the chute…”
The doors open and the Craig-Bond orders Q to fire the missiles, Q protests, “not until you’re clear.” The Craig-Bond demands they be fired now! What the rush is I don’t know, oh yeah “the buyers,” who can be blown to hell at any time now negating this arbitrary countdown. M gives the Navy permission to launch and apparently they strike that match and light the fuse on those Piccolo Petes!
On his way out of the control room the Craig-Bond finds Mathilde’s sock monkey Dou Dou, he picks it up and shoves it in his overalls. So now with Dou Dou in his pants and a song in his heart the Craig-Bond begins skipping his merry way back to the boat docks. Unfortunately it is when life is at it’s zenith and all is right with the world when we suffer our greatest set backs, yes just as he begins making his way out, the blast doors begin shutting again!
“No! I was just about to go home and get this Dou Dou out of my overalls!”
As the Craig-Bond rushes back to the control room gunfire erupts, sending him tumbling into the jacuzzi next to Safin’s poisonous garden. Safin emerges and keeps getting closer, closer, he enters the pool. What the bloody hell are you doing, never has the Scott Evil meme been so fitting:
No, this willowy, wispy little man is going to walk right up on a trained killer to administer the coup de gras when he could easily do it from a safe five feet away!
“What was that Craig said about Austin Powers “F-ing us.”
Sure enough the Craig-Bond over powers him but not before he scratches the Craig-Bond with nano virus targeted to kill Swann and Mathilde. Since Mathilde is his daughter shouldn’t it be killing him too? Safin expresses some stilted flowery dialogue which I’ll spare you from and the Craig-Bond just shoots him dead or as it’s written in the script:
“Bond gets up. He retrieves Safin’s gun from the water and shoots Safin. KILLS HIM.”
What a missed opportunity, here you have them fighting right next to a poisoned garden and you simply have the Craig-Bond break Safin’s arm and shoot him dead? Why not throw him amongst the plants and watch him writhe and die, a taste of his own medicine? Oh yeah, a thought like that would require some imagination and we can’t interrupt our creatively bankrupt On Her Majesty’s Secret Service thievery!
The Craig-Bond returns to the control room and gives Q a jingle, he asks if Swann and daughter are safe, which apparently they are and he admits he hasn’t left the island yet. He reopens the blast doors further asking “How do I destroy this thing if it gets on me?” Q tells him it can’t be, it’s eternal, but not to worry because it’s harmless unless he gets near the target. This makes me wonder about old Q, is he holding out on the Craig-Bond about a cure or is he just a sociopath? It’s not until it’s revealed that the Craig-Bond has been infected with virus geared to Swann that things get somber. Anybody else can go to blazes but this is someone we know! I mean if the Craig-Bond had been infected with some unknown variant he could kill dozens or hell hundreds, maybe thousands, but…
“We don’t know them so come on home old boy!”
The Craig-Bond asks to be patched in to communication with Swann as he releases a ladder to the top of the block house, he begins climbing as they start their conversation, but this is where I must end, until next time in; No, Time To Die.
The continuity issue with Safin’s age from the beginning of the Film is jarring. While Ms Seydoux is an attractive woman, she looks the same age or older than Malik at the end. All it makes Safin a terrible villian.
The Bond Craig meme is perfect because he is such a radical departure from the other 5 who have played the iconic role. Eon wants to play it that way too, I guess because Michael Wilson said recently each actor movies are in a separate arc or some crap like that to get around the NTTD ending. This from the man who wrote the Tracy Bond grave scene in FYEO and Tracy reference in LTK. Babz and Michael had no plan; they never did. Eon keeps on spinning and spinning.
Thanks DB for sloughing thru this mess of a movie for us.
Hi DB, I finally watched the movie, after avoiding it in the cinemas. My overall impression was that it’s a bit of a mess, quite incoherent and underwhelming. I would put it above Spectre in entertainment value but that’s not saying much.
There are a few good points: the scenery in Italy, Jamaica and Cuba is very nice, Bond’s home is pretty cool, there are some good little bits of action, the two female agents are quite okay and Daniel Craig shows again that he can act (although the dour character he portrays doesn’t seem anything like Bond to me).
The bad points are many: a weak plot, flat dialogue, a depressing theme song, a villain with no real motives behind his plans to destroy the world, a tendency to forget it’s a spy action movie (not a horror movie or drama), action scenes that are bordering on cartoon/superhero style rather than realism, and too many homages to OHMSS. The whole ending smacks of saying that the Craig era is different from (read “superior to”) the other Bond movies, while at the same time weakening the character and series.
It’s a far cry from the realism of Casino Royale. From best to worst, I’d put Casino Royale, A Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, No Time to Die and then last Spectre. AQOS at least had the virtue of brevity and remembering that it’s a spy movie, something NTTD forgets at times.
Thanks for wading through this movie and pointing out all the absurdities.
Hello Gareth, I pretty much agree 110%. CR was decent, but flat, QOS was more of the same, but disjointed, SF was OK, but took itself far too seriously, SP and NTTD are one in the same, cannon damaging homage mills winking at the past while actively destroying it. We’ll see what the future holds, I’m ever hopeful but not holding my breath.
@Gareth Call me crazy, but I think I might put QOS ahead of CR. QOS is mercifully (relatively) brief as you say, but also kind of revels in its own ridiculousness, whereas CR is sooooo pleased with itself and its “witty banter” between Craig and Vesper. I think CR has the worst dialogue of the series.