“I also have a mortgage, and two cats to feed.”

Spectre

The most recent Bond film and this is the first movie in my blog series that I have not previously watched.  I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.  Of course, Daniel Craig is back as James Bond, Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny.  Andrew Scott (Moriarty in Sherlock) slinks through as C, Dave Bautista (such a surprise to see Drax of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy) as the mostly silently and basically never named Hinx.  We briefly see Léa Seydoux, who plays Madeleine Swann in this film, in Robin Hood as Isabella of Angoulême.  Christoph Waltz (Richelieu in the newer Three Musketeers film; making him the second Bond villain to come out of that movie; Mads Mikkelsen was Le Chiffre in Casino Royale before he was Rochefort) is creepy as Blofeld.

This is the first of Craig’s Bond films to open with the gun barrel sequence.  It opens properly on a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico and everyone is walking around wearing skeleton masks…off to a creepy start.  The camera follows one man in a skeleton suit, he follows a woman to her room and removes his mask to reveal Bond.  Except he has more important things to do that bed an all too willing woman.  He just causally walks along the roof’s edge to set up an assassination shot.  The building ends up blowing (though I’m not certain that was caused by Bond) and crumbles towards him.  A well placed sofa saves him from breaking bones when he falls.  He then pursues his target through the parade towards the city’s square.  A helicopter is waiting for the bad guy.  Bond jumps in after him and there is a terrifying fight between the two men; terrifying because it causes a helicopter to spin wildly over a crowd of people.  Bond manages to kick his target out of the helicopter, then the pilot, and regain control of the helicopter and steers it safely away from the crowd [because it’s hard to view the main character as a hero if he kills loads of innocent people just to get his man, ten minutes into the film.]

The opening credits continue the creepy vibe by featuring an octopus.  There are flashbacks to Silva, Vesper, M, and Chiffre (and I will admit, Daniel Craig does not look too bad shirtless).  In London, Bond is in trouble with M again.  His mission to Mexico was not sanctioned and it does not help the situation that MI6 is merging with MI5, calling the double-0 program into question.  Bond is introduced to the man overseeing the change, Max Denbigh, whom Bond refers to as C.  Denbigh’s brilliant plan is that human agents are no longer needed; drones can gather all the intelligence they need (continuing the debate from Skyfall).  Bond has Moneypenny bring his personal effects from Skyfall to his sparse apartment.  And he trusts her enough to reveal that his mission is a dying request from the previous M.  A video had arrived in his mail shortly after her death, instructing him to hunt down a man and attend his funeral.  Moneypenny agrees to help cover for Bond and do some research for him on “the Pale King.”  In the personal effects, we see a copy of temporary guardianship paperwork for a young James Bond, along with a photograph.

Tanner fills Bond in further on C’s new plans.  The old MI6 building will be demolished and an impersonal glass skyscraper has been erected to house C’s surveillance.  He wants to get the whole world in on it and give access to those countries.  Q has set up shop away from prying eyes.  He implants nanotechnology to keep track of Bond, per M’s orders.  Oh, there’s a new car, but not for Bond.  Q is working on rebuilding the vintage Aston Martin, but Bond misunderstood his instruction to bring the car back in one piece, not bring back one piece of the car.  Q has a new watch for Bond; it tells time.  Bond asks Q for a favor; make him disappear, for forty-eight hours.  [And yes, Bond is totally flirting with Q; Q gets flustered; and it’s rather adorable.  And a bit hilarious]  Q returns to his bunker later in the evening to discover the new Aston Martin gone. 

Bond jets off to Rome to observe the funeral as M instructed.  He saves the widow’s life and seduces her to get information on her husband.  He was part of a dangerous organization that is now meeting.  Bond takes the man’s ring as his ticket into the meeting.  The bad guys have organized and are reporting how their criminal activities are progressing.  The leader remains in the shadows and they are all silent as a henchman kills a member for the honor of going after “the Pale King.”  The leader is aware that Bond is present and welcomes him.  Bond gets out, but the silent henchman follows him in an equally fancy sports car.  The gadgets aren’t all quite installed, but the rear flame throwers at least work.  And the ejector seat (so Bond lets a brand new shiny car just sink into the river).  He calls up Moneypenny while he’s driving and she reports that Bond has run into the Pale King before; he was known as Quantum, or Mr. White.  Bond has a new direction, but he needs Moneypenny to also look up Franz Oberhauser, someone presumed dead.

Back in London, C is getting closer to success with his goal.  Q lies to M to cover for Bond.  Bond jets off to Austria and finds Mr. White.  The old man is already dying, but he’ll let Bond protect his daughter in order to lead him to the organization he’s searching for.  Then commits suicide to cut short his agonizing death.  Bond meets up with Madeleine Swann, though she has no desire to be involved with her deceased father’s life.  Q also shows up, with orders to bring Bond in.  Bond hands off the ring and goes after Swann’s kidnappers, led by the silent Rome guy.  Q is almost nabbed, but escapes in a crowd and Bond utterly crashes a small airplane (bit by bit, losing wings, then the tail).  Swann finally agrees to go with Bond.  Q fills them in that Bond was right; there is something to this ring.  All of his previous enemies, Greene, Chiffre, Silva, are all connected to Oberhauser, the head of the villainous organization Spectre.

The L’Americain that White mentioned is not a person, Swann reveals, but a hotel in Tangier.  She resists Bond’s advances, but insists on accompanying him.  Bond discovers a secret room (and a tape of Vesper Lynd’s interrogation…even after this time, he still mourns her).  He and Swann are now off to the desert.  Back in London, C is continuing to succeed with his intelligence data plan.  M points out, just like Bond did in Skyfall, that a  man on the ground is the only way to make the decision whether someone needs to die or not.  Unfortunately, C has managed to shut down the double-0 program.  C mocks M, calling him the past.  M retorts that C is a cocky little bastard.  Q and Moneypenny go to M with information on Bond, but he orders them to hide it.  C is watching MI6 agents; they’ll just lead him to Bond.  They must abandon him (even though Bond is a pain in the butt, M still protects him).

Rome guy attacks Swann and Bond on their train and Bond almost loses.  Madeleine luckily knows how to use a gun (side effect of her father that she dislikes) and rescues Bond.  He manages to get Rome guy off the train.  What to do now?  Why have sex, of course.  The pair eventually make it to a complex in the middle of the desert.  And their host is playing mind games, leaving personal pictures in their rooms.  Blofeld, the leader of Spectre is their host and his complex houses intelligence gathering; C is one of his stooges…meaning if C’s program goes online, Spectre will have further access, spelling trouble for governments.  While Bond has come to kill Blofeld, Blofeld has brought Bond to his complex to die.  He is the author of Bond’s pain; he is behind the villains Bond has faced recently.  He is ultimately responsible for Vesper’s death, and M’s death.  “You interfered in my world; I destroyed yours,” Blofeld comments.  Blofeld also turns out to be Franz Oberhauser.  His father was awarded guardianship of Bond and asked Franz to be the orphan’s brother.  Franz disliked the notion and arranged to kill his father and has spent his life seeking revenge on Bond by destroying all he loves (cause that makes a whole lot of sense).

He knocks Bond out and straps him into a chair.  Swann will watch as Blofeld probes Bond’s mind, ultimately killing him.  Yeah, those drills are disturbing.  While Blofeld monologues to Madeleine, Bond removes his watch.  Madeleine comes over to whisper she loves Bond when they figure Blofeld’s next move will be the killing one.  Bond hands Swann the watch and it starts an explosion in the complex.  Bond escapes, with Swann.  Explosions ramp up until the whole complex is engulfed in flames (this set the Guinness world record for the world’s largest film stunt explosion ever).

But it’s not the end.  Bond meets with M, Q, Tanner, and Moneypenny.  They’re going after C.  Q will hack in and stop C’s program.  But Bond is taken hostage on the drive over; M escapes and joins up with the other three (Madeleine has decided she cannot be part of this life and leaves…dangerous move).  Bond is  taken to the old MI6 building, which is rigged with explosives and escapes his captors, but follows the arrows down into the depths of the building [by the way, that trick with the zip-tie cuffs; you can legitimately escape that way {it’s even explained in The Official MacGyver Survival Manual}].  M continues with the plan and confronts C (who sounds so much like Moriarty…can we push him off a building yet?).  M gets the upper hand and Q is finally successful in shutting down C’s program.  M and C struggle for the gun and C falls down several floors.  Pictures of those who have died around Bond are posted to mess with his head and Bond discovers Blofeld isn’t dead yet.  Scarred, yes, over one eye, but not dead.  And he has Madeleine.  Will Bond choose to save himself and live with the regret, or die trying to save the woman who may understand him, being the daughter of an assassin?  Of course, Bond races after Madeleine, the three minute countdown on.  He rescues her, but they only have seconds.  They jump through the floor, caught by a net.  Blofeld and the four MI6 agents watch as the old building collapses.  Bond and Swann escape by boat and chase after Blofeld.  Bond brings down the helicopter and strides towards Blofeld who is crawling from the wreckage.  M watches at one end, and Swann at the other.  Bond does not shoot.  He chooses Swann, tossing his gun.  M makes the arrest.

Bond visits Q one last time, to retrieve his original Aston Martin.  Swann is in the passenger seat.  The Bond theme plays as Bond smiles and drives off.  So, did Bond just retire?  According to press released on the upcoming twenty-fifth Bond film, No Time to Die [why is it that “die” features in a lot of Bond titles?], Bond did indeed retire.  The new film will take place several years after the events of Spectre.  Blofeld and Madeleine Swann will both return and Rami Malek is slated to portray the villain.  I do hope the movie makes its November release; after watching Spectre, I am geared up to watch what is possibly Daniel Craig’s final Bond film.

I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would, but I still consider it creepy.  I’m not as likely to watch this one over and over like I do with Skyfall.  So, Pierce versus Daniel?  Pierce is the classic James Bond to me; suave, charming.  His Bond has the highest body count, but there’s an elegant style.  Daniel; they just like to beat him up.  And there’s lots of action, lots and lots of action.  Chase scenes within chase scenes.  But I prefer the storylines from Daniel’s time, despite being darker than Pierce’s.  That may have to do with how movies have changed over twenty years or so. 

As mentioned, Skyfall is my favorite Bond film (a bit to my mother’s disappointment, I believe).  I do like the direction they’ve taken Moneypenny and Q; making them more active.  Samantha Bond and Pierce Brosnan had excellent flirt chemistry and that Moneypenny certainly wanted to sleep with Bond, despite his reputation.  Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny is an action girl, a good pairing with Bond.  And Ben Whishaw as Q is adorable.  [And I certainly subscribe to the fan notion that he is the third Holmes brother; his resemblance to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is uncanny.]  Judi Dench is the primary M I know and she played it marvelously.  She was more ruthless with Daniel Craig, but you saw how much Bond cared for M in Skyfall.  I have determined that Bond needs someone to protect.  That is how he operates.  And I love that about the character; I think I love that in a character period (the Winchester brothers, Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon…characters who will throw themselves into danger to protect someone).

I haven’t quite decided with the reboot if it changes the notion that James Bond is a bit like Doctor Who: the Doctor has many faces, but they are all the Doctor.  So mayhaps, James Bond is a codename.  Skyfall insinuates that this is the true James Bond.

As just mentioned; I hold to the idea that Q is a Holmes.  And there are several fanfiction authors who have written brilliant pieces.  And warning; they often pair the new Q with Bond.  I’m okay with that.

I highly recommend ktwontwo’s series starting with Brothers Three.

A Wandering Minstrel has several good oneshots

And I recently discovered over on AO3, White_Noise’s series The Other Life of Quentin Holmes, Quartermaster

Also on AO3, Beginte has a wonderful Work and Play series, amongst other oneshots.

Threshold by AtoTheBean is a wonderful Spetre fix-it where Q is actually the one who gets kidnapped by Blofeld.

And I have utterly fallen in love with Only­_1_Truth’s stories.  The Chaos and Logic Chronicles are delicious at times and are apparently a play off of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods book [which I have not read, but I now might be interested in].  I’ll Be Your Light, Your Match, Your Burning Sun is rather good, as is Alley-Cat Quartermaster.

Next Time: Another film series based on bestselling books; these by Tom Clancy, starting with Hunt for Red October

Put Your Back Into It

Skyfall

My favorite Bond film; also commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the first James Bond film and includes several call backs.  Daniel Craig returns as Bond, Judi Dench returns as M.  Naomie Harris (her voice gives her away at times as Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean) joins the cast as Eve (we find out at the last minute her surname is Moneypenny!) and Ben Whishaw (Richard II in The Hollow Crown [he’s brilliant, check it out], grown up Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Returns) is the new Q.  Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort, the Duke in The Duchess) is Gareth Mallory and Albert Finney (the reformed pastor in Amazing Grace and Daddy Warbucks in the 1982 musical film Annie…a bit hard to believe) appears as Kincade [this was his last role].  The opening song is performed by Adele.

The opening involves several chases throughout Istanbul (Craig’s Bond does a lot of chasing) [this also influenced a scene I intend to include in my eventual fantasy series, though there will be no motorcycles or trains involved].  M orders Bond and his fellow agent, Eve to reacquire a very important list.  It leads Bond to fight with their prey on top of a moving train (Craig did his own stunts) and Bond even gets shot in the shoulder, though he rather cleverly uses a construction vehicle as both a shield and a method to hold the train together for a few minutes.  Eve follows in the car and eventually sets up to take a shot.  But she warns M it won’t be clean.  M orders her to take it anyway and Eve shoots Bond by mistake.  He falls over a waterfall and is presumed dead.  The opening credits foreshadow a large home with stags in front, as well as a graveyard.

M works on Bond’s obituary, then has to meet with Mallory, who is the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee.  She has to answer for the muck-up that is the list of undercover NATO agents falling into enemy hands.  Mallory states the Committee wants her to honorably retire.  M sees it as them firing her; she’ll leave when the job is done.  On her way back to the office a message comes through her computer and traffic stops just before the MI6 office building blows.

Never fear, Bond is actually alive, hiding out on a remote beach.  But he hears the news of the MI6 bombing.  He sneaks back home to London and into M’s house (again; he did that in Casino Royale).  “Where the hell have you been?” M demands.  “Enjoying death,” he responds, looking worse for wear.  But 007 is reporting for duty.  He also admonishes M, that she should have trusted Bond to finish his job.  MI6 is under attack; they need Bond.  But he must pass the tests to be reinstated to active service.  They are now stationed in underground bunkers, leftover from Churchill during the Second World War.  Tanner fills Bond in as Bond preps for his evaluations.  But we see the tremor in Bond; he’s not quite back to full capacity.  His shoulder still aches and he struggles with the shooting test.  Then walks out of the psych eval when the word “skyfall” is mentioned.  Afterwards, Bond digs the bullet fragments out of his shoulder and orders they are for “her eyes only” (a reference to an earlier film starring Roger Moore).

Bond meets Mallory and M informs him that he has passed his tests and is ready for the field.  Mallory does question Bond whether he wants to continue in the spy game; he had the perfect way out.  Why not just remain dead?  M defends Bond.  Mallory tells her later that she is sentimental about Bond (this film really seems to delve into that mother/son bond that M and Bond possibly have.  Just in Quantum of Solace, Bond remarks to Camille that M likes to think she is Bond’s mother, and Pierce Brosnan has remarked on it in interviews).  And in actuality, M reveals to Tanner, Bond did not pass his tests.

The shell casings lead MI6 to an assassin for hire and leads Bond to Shanghai.  First he meets the new Q, a young nerdy-looking man [regularly referred to in fandom as a “boffin;” a British slang term for a scientist or engineer, though the fandom uses it with endearment].  Bond is not impressed at first.  “Age is no guarantee of efficiency,” Q informs the agent when the older man questions his competency.  “And youth is no guarantee of innovation,” Bond fires back.  Q hands him a gun coded to his palm print, and a radio transmitter.  Sorry Bond, no exploding pen (like in GoldenEye).  Bond tracks his adversary to a glass skyscraper in Shanghai where he watches him execute a man in another building, then attacks.  The man falls to his death without revealing who he’s working for, but Bond finds a chip in the case for a casino in Macau.  Eve joins Bond and he finally fully cleans up, clean-shaven and in a tux.  Eve even spiffs up to assist him in an evening gown.  Bond meets a woman he recognizes from the assassination; she’s connected to the man behind the operation and Bond offers to protect her.  First, he has to get by the guards.  He joins the woman in her shower afterwards.

They sail to a deserted small island and Bond is led away.  The slightly creepy Raoul Silva introduces himself; he once worked for MI6 and is upset with M.  He was once her favorite in Hong Kong between 1986 and 1997 (about how long of a hiatus the films took between Licence to Kill in 1989 and GoldenEye in 1995).  He also has Bond’s file and tries to get Bond to distrust M, revealing that he did not pass and M sent him into the lion’s den.  He also attempts to hit on Bond.  Carrying on, Silva holds the view that technology has changed the game; Q and Bond hit on it when they met: Q can accomplish quite a lot in his pajamas than Bond can in the field in a year.  But someone will still have to pull the trigger; or not. “It’s hard to tell in your pajamas.”  Nevertheless, Silva takes Bond outside and improvises a William Tell-like shooting competition with the girl.  Bond can’t, or doesn’t make the shot.  “Is there any of the old 007?” Silva whines, then shoots the girl.  Waste of good Scotch, Bond huffs.  Then has no problem taking out Silva’s goons.  The cavalry arrives (and the Bond theme), thanks to the latest from Q branch, a radio.

M visits Silva alongside Bond.  The man in the glass case has a lot of issues with M; he was tortured for five months and she didn’t lift a finger to retrieve him.  He tried his cyanide capsule, but it didn’t work properly, he didn’t die (his mouth is a bit deformed [creepy as all get out], which he hides).  M flatly tells him “soon your past will be as nonexistent as your future,” his name will be struck from the memorial wall.  M clarifies to Bond that Silva had overstepped his bounds in China and was going to cause them problems.  [If we recall, M has issues similar to this with Pierce’s Bond; in their first encounter, she assured him that she had no problem sending a man to his death, but it would not be on a whim.  And in Die Another Day, Bond himself is held prisoner and tortured for fourteen months and does not break.  And is actually angry that M made the trade for him; he understood the risks…just proves to me that Bond is stronger than Silva]

M continues to face an inquiry and Q tries to hack into Silva’s laptop.  Bond helps see a key in the code, which unfortunately backfires on them and frees Silva.  Bond chases after him into the tube system (some wonderful banter between Q and Bond…love it), deducing that Silva is going after M.  He indeed enters the building and begins shooting.  M, meanwhile, puts the inquiry in their place, with support from Mallory.  The shadows of the world are still evident and that is where the bad guys hide and that is where her people operate.  This new world they are in frightens her; Britain’s enemies are no longer visible and known, they are no longer a nation.  They are individuals and a lot harder to spot.  She quotes Tennyson: “We are not now that strength which in old days/ moved earth and heave; that which we are, we are/ one equal temper of heroic hearts/ made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/ to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”  As she ends, Silva bursts in.  Mallory pulls M down and gets a shot to the shoulder.  Bond to the rescue!  As well as Eve and even Mallory picks up a gun to cover Tanner getting M out.  But Bond is a step ahead; he drives off with M in the car.  If Silva wants her, he’ll have to come and get her. 

It’ll just be him and M and they’ll finally get a step ahead of Silva.  Bond calls Q for some tech help, then switches cars with M to a classic silver Aston Martin (along with the Bond theme).  It even has the ejector seat, which Bond threatens M with if she continues complaining.  They’re going back in time, Bond remarks.  Mallory checks in with Tanner and Q and even gives them the go-ahead with their plan.  Bond and M head north to Scotland [I adore the Scottish landscape; while Italy and the Med would be beautiful to visit, I want to live in Scotland].  M knows Bond’s story and again comments that orphans make the best agents (recalling conversations from GoldenEye and Casino Royale).  They arrive at Skyfall, Bond’s childhood home (flanked by a stag statue) [it’s a gorgeous home, I’d love to restore it].  The old groundskeeper, Kincade is still there (originally written with Sean Connery in mind, but the director ultimately decided that it would detract from the story).  The three of them set about MacGyvering ways to defend the house.  While they’re at it, Bond assures M that she did her job correctly.

Troops arrive.  Bond is hiding in his car and uses machine guns to take out some.  Their tricks inside the house help; Kincade greets them with a shot and “welcome to Scotland” [I laugh out loud].  A helicopter finally arrives and shoots up the house [poor house].  Silva exits with more men and throws grenades into the house, starting a fire.  Bond sends Kincade with M through the priests’ passage to the church (Bond had hid in there for two days after the death of his parents).  M is wounded, despite her assuring Bond she was fine, so the going is a little slow.  Silva blows up the Aston Martin, which pisses Bond off, so he blows tanks in the house, catching the helicopter, which finally destroys the rest of the house [did they really have to blow those up?], though Bond grumbles “I always hated this place,” as he takes cover, diving out of the shockwave in the tunnel.

Silva spots the flashlight from Kincade on the moors and goes after M.  Bond takes out the last two men, after a dip in the frozen lake.  Silva makes it to the chapel first and motions Kincade to not interfere.  He’s saddened that M was hurt, against his orders, and asks her for a quick death for both of them, holding his gun to her head so it would go through both of them.  Bond throws a knife into Silva’s back and finishes the man.  He catches M as she collapses and holds her.  “At least I got one thing right,” and she dies in his arms.  Bond sheds tears [as do we.  Except I would have cried more if Pierce’s one idea had been followed through; he felt he should have been with M when she died].

We end in London, Bond looking at the skyline (Sherlock echoes this in a later season).  Eve presents Bond with a final gift from M, her British bulldog figurine, and reveals her last name to Bond: Moneypenny.  Bond greets Mallory, the new M (in rooms that recall the original Bond films and alongside the theme).  There is a folder for 007: Top Secret.  M remarks there is lots to do, is Bond ready to get back to work?  With pleasure.  And the gun barrel sequence.

This is a  more cohesive story that Craig’s prior Bond films and I utterly adore the bits in Scotland.  And all the little bits thrown in calling back to the old Bond films make me actually want to watch them.  Silva is creepy as all get out, because even when he’s gentile, we can tell it’s a mask, there is something sinister lurking beneath the surface.  And yes, technology helped in the film: Q tracking Bond and Silva, but it does boil down to hands-on work, Bond versus the villain.  As M points out, the world may be changing, but it’s still dangerous and MI6 still has a use and work to do.

Up Next: Finishing the current Bond movies with Spectre

Dead Ends

Quantum of Solace

Craig’s second outing as Bond.  Gemma Arterton (Tamina in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time) briefly appears as Strawberry Fields [homage to the Beatles perhaps] and there’s a brief appearance at the end by Stana Katic (Kate Beckett opposite Nathan Fillion in Castle [loved that show; and there was mention in an early episode of Richard Castle potentially ghostwriting James Bond books, lol], and Simone Renoir in The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice [we’ll be covering those soon]).  This is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, picking up within twenty-four hours of the previous tale ending.  Oddly, it starts silent with a fast car chase, until the sound drops in and you have to rush to turn down the volume.  I almost thought they were going to wreck an Aston Martin within the first five minutes; it loses a door and is certainly scraped up, but still drivable at the end.  Bond naturally dispatches with his pursuers and pulls Mr. White out of his trunk to face interrogation.  M is clearly worried about Bond before they go in to interrogate Mr. White.

But he holds a card up his sleeve, so to speak; his organization has so far stayed off MI6’s radar and they have people everywhere, including M’s own bodyguard to her surprise.  Bond chases him and ends up shooting him (after causing destruction along the way in typical Bond fashion).  When he returns, Mr. White is gone.  M is angry with the turn of events and frustrated to learn that Mr. White was correct; how does an organization like that exist and MI6 doesn’t know about them?  How did one of their people get to be her personal bodyguard for several years and not get flagged?  MI6 does manage to track tagged money used by Le Chiffre to pay off associates.  Bond heads to Haiti to hopefully pick up a new contact.  But a fight breaks out easily in the man’s hotel room and Bond kills him in self defense.  He then takes the man’s briefcase and meets a young woman named Camille.  Inside the briefcase is her picture and gun, so she throws Bond out of the car.  But he pursues her and discovers that her boyfriend, Dominic Greene had arranged for her to be killed.  Well, that didn’t work, so he passes her along to an old enemy to cement a deal he’s working in Bolivia.  Bond goes after the girl again, ending in a high speed boat chase (they still like to beat this Bond up; apparently Daniel Craig was injured three times filming this movie).

Bond asks MI6 about Dominic Greene and M checks with the CIA.  They claim to not know anything; in fact, they’re tracking the man and he’s even getting on a private jet with them.  They make the deal to ignore the upcoming regime change in Bolivia in return for oil.  M orders Bond to follow them, but please avoid killing every possible lead.  Bond winds up at a party, sneaking into a tux and getting a hold of an earpiece.  He overhears a business deal amongst the wealthy and interrupts them.  Several of the key players leave and he snaps photos, then goes after Greene.  It’s still a bit of a mess and M tries to restrict Bond’s movement; Bond responds by staying in Italy and looking up Mathis.  He was found innocent of betrayal from the previous movie and agrees to accompany Bond to Bolivia.  The pretty Miss Fields is waiting for him with orders to return directly to London.  Bond insists in his usual manner on staying.  He quickly charms Miss Fields (and she hates herself for it) and they’re invited to Dominic Greene’s charity gala.  Camille shows up to confront Dominic and Bond gets her out.  Miss Fields helps by tripping Greene’s bodyguard.

The police, who are supposed to be on Bond’s side, stop him.  Greene’s already gotten to them.  Mathis is discovered in the back of the car, beaten.  He’s then mortally shot and Bond consents to stay with the man as he dies.  Mathis’s final words to Bond are to forgive Vesper, who truly loved him, and for Bond to forgive himself.  Bond then takes Camille into the desert to look into Greene’s property.  A fighter plane chases them after they get a plane of their own.  Bond forces it into a cliff, but they have to dodge a helicopter.  They jump out of their plane with one parachute and discover once they land that Greene has dammed the water, creating a drought.  There is no oil.  The pair manages to get back to Bond’s hotel.  He meets with M and finds out that Miss Fields was killed; she’s lying on his bed covered in oil (an homage to Goldfinger).  M has already been told by the higher ups that they are fine with dealing with Greene; there is no evidence of foul play and they need the oil.  Bond is running wild and may have been turned; the Americans have orders to kill him.  She suspends Bond from duty and he seems to go quietly.  Until they’re in the elevator and he escapes.  He assures M that he is good.  M knows he’s on to something and she’ll protect her agent, to hell with the CIA.

We see Greene’s deal, handling the regime change and he confesses that the Quantum organization now controls over sixty percent of the water in Bolivia; the new leader will have to use them for utilities.  If he doesn’t comply, they will simply find a new leader.  Camille moves in on the general, who murdered her family and burned down her house.  They fight and Camille manages to kill the man, but a huge fire has started, thanks to Bond trying to take Greene, trapping her in the room.  Greene and Bond fight as explosions rock around them.  Bond makes the choice to save Camille, rather than killing Greene there.  The worm crawls away.  Camille is terrified by the fire and Bond is willing to shoot them before the fire takes them, but at the last minute, causes another explosion to create an opening out of the room.  He picks up Greene, gets his information, and leaves the man in the middle of the desert.  Camille returns to Bolivia to help in the wake of recent events.  Bond’s next stop is Russia.  He has tracked down Vesper’s boyfriend; who is not in danger and already has another girlfriend [Hello, Stana].  She is Canadian intelligence and Bond advises her to report to her agency that they have a leak; the boyfriend will get captured and she will be blackmailed for information…just like Vesper.  Bond does leave him alive, to M’s surprise.  She’s squared the situation with the U.S.  “Bond, I need you back.”  “I never left.”

This film is very disjointed.  A reason for that may be that it came about during the writers’ strike and the script was finished by Craig and the director.  The villain is bland and at least Bond doesn’t sleep with the main girl this time (though he sleeps with Strawberry Fields and bad things happen).  Admittedly, we do see Bond risk his life to save the girl and he tries to not leave destruction everywhere he goes; it’s just the side effect of him doing his job.  Yet, it’s still not a well like movie.

Up Next: My favorite Bond film, Skyfall

I apologize for the brief absence; between work and a well-deserved vacation, I haven’t been on my computer often.  But I’ve got the next batch of posts already drafted up to the point I tend to take a holiday hiatus.  Plan seems to be to finish off James Bond (and the latest movie release date still seems up in the air…I’d really like to see it!) then round up the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan films.  At that point, it will be hiatus time, but I’ve got the next several months planned out after that (yes, most likely will only be one post a week so I can maintain some other writing and reading projects.  But I love these action films, so I will not abandon them).

Besides, I went on a bit of a Shakespeare stint for a few days off, so you get a bonus post today.  I guess it would fall under the “Random Fandom” label, though it’s not a fandom I tend to fall into.

Speaking of fandoms: the final seven episodes of Supernatural begin airing this week and I am…looking forward in a way to see what will happen.  I may share some thoughts on the end.  The new MacGyver has been renewed for a fifth season, but no word on when it will air because I don’t think they’ve even started filming yet.

A Difference in Dinner Jackets

Casino Royale

Daniel Craig’s premiere as the latest James Bond (he’s appeared in The Golden Compass and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) and he had the support of all the previous Bonds when he took over the role.  Eva Green (the recent Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which looks peculiar; Morgan in the brief Camelot TV series, and she was Sibylla in Kingdom of Heaven opposite Orlando Bloom) appears alongside him as Vesper Lynd.  Mads Mikkelsen (a magnificent actor who has been Galen Erso in Rogue One, Kaecilius in Doctor Strange, Rochefort in the most recent Three Musketeers film with Orlando Bloom, Tristan in the King Arthur film with Ioan Gruffudd and Keira Knightley)  is the villainous Le Chiffre.  Dame Judi Dench returns as M; and if her assistant appears familiar, it’s Tobias Menzies (most famous now as Frank and Black Jack Randall in Outlander; he’s also been Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown and Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones).

This was a reboot of the Bond franchise, which I was not aware of when I first watched the movie, causing me some confusion (particularly when they retain Judi Dench as M, though she is awesome), and a bit of a prequel.  The film starts in black and white, in Prague.  Bond has not yet gained his double-0 status, as the mysterious man points out; it requires two kills.  Well, Bond has already taken care of one of the man’s henchmen, then puts a bullet in his head, cutting off his response.  The opening credits confirm his upgrade in status and is one of the few openings that does not feature naked women.  Next, we’re in Uganda where a warlord gives a European man his money to finance his terroristic operations.  Bond’s on his next mission in Madagascar and a rookie agent causes the mission to go sideways so Bond has to chase his prey though the city, a la parkour at times.  He follows him onto an embassy then causes an explosion at the end, but he gets the guy’s cell phone.  And is caught on camera, causing M to sit through meetings with bureaucrats.  She misses the Cold War right about now.

She discovers Bond in her home, where he’s been using her computer and access to research where the dead guy’s message originated.  M and Bond have a discussion about his recent actions; he violated the one absolute rule of international relations by going into the embassy.  Perhaps she promoted him too early.  Well, 00’s are known to have a short life expectancy.  What M needs is a man who can put aside his ego and get the job done; any thug with a gun can kill.  Arrogance and self awareness rarely go hand in hand.  (She refers to Bond as a blunt instrument, which Miranda Frost brought up n Die Another Day).  For now, Bond is to stick his head in the sand and ponder his future.

Which he does, by going to Nassau in the Bahamas, to the Ocean Club, where the phone call originated.  Bond discovers his target and seduces his wife in order to follow him.  He takes him out, but the clue has left already and Bond has a new target.  Who tries to blow up a prototype large airplane, but Bond prevents it (causing destruction along the way).  M flies down to the Bahamas to officially give Bond the case to go after Le Chiffre.  The villain gambles with his client’s money, investing in stocks that he’ll make sure go under; he lost a lot of money betting on the prototype plane blowing up – something similar had apparently happened in conjunction with 9/11.  To make up his money, he is hosting a large poker tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro with a $10 million buy in.  Bond’s mission is to capture Le Chiffre, alive.  They need his information.  Bond is apparently the best poker player in MI6, and the outfit him with a tracking chip.

On the way to Montenegro [which is gorgeous], Bond meets Vesper Lynd, who remarks to Bond “I’m the money.”  “Every penny of it,” he quips back (a play on the character-not-appearing-in-this-film, Moneypenny).  They read each other’s backgrounds and snark at each other, which is rather humorous.  Vesper will keep a close eye on the money, but she has also observed Bond’s remarkable backside.  Bond receives his new car, stocked with gadgets (sadly, no Q in sight), his back story with Vesper, and a contact: Mathis.  There is a rather humorous scene where Bond gives Vesper a show-stopping dress and she in turns gives him a tailored tux instead of a dinner jacket.

The poker game begins (which I will not explain the intricacies of, because I do not understand them).  Bond creates his signature cocktail.  When a break comes four hours in, the angry Ugandans from the beginning come after Le Chiffre; they stumble on to Bond and Vesper and Bond dispatches them.  Vesper is shaken, but they must continue.  Bond cleans up and later comforts Vesper in the shower (a sensual scene, not a sexual one).  In the game, Bond follows Le Chiffre with putting all in, then loses the hand.  Vesper believes his ego got in the way, so won’t authorize the buy in.  Bond is upset and goes after Le Chiffre with a table knife, until another player stops him; a CIA agent.  The U.S. wants Le Chiffre too and the agent is not nearly as good at poker as Bond; he will give Bond the money if Bond will win so the U.S. can go after Le Chiffre.

Le Chiffre’s girlfriend sends Bond a poisoned drink [why she’s loyal to the guy who almost got her killed, I don’t know, she’s an idiot].  Bond stumbles out of the game to his car to call MI6 for help; they talk him through an injection and a defibrillator to keep his heart going, but the lead comes unattached.  He passes out, but Vesper comes in the nick of time to help.  And he goes back in to finish the game.  He goes all in again, but it pays off this time, literally.  Bond wins over $100 million.  He treats himself and Vesper to a nice dinner.  He gets concerned when Vesper leaves and races after her to discover she’s being kidnapped.  There is a brief car chase before Bond’s beautiful Aston Martin flips like it’s in Nascar.  He and Vesper are captured by Le Chiffre, who wants the account number and password between the couple so he can claim the money.  He tortures Bond, who is tied naked to a chair (this guy cannot catch a break!  He’s been beaten up like half a dozen times so far).  By now, Bond suspects Mathis and Le Chiffre even hints that Mathis is working for him.  Bond hears gunshots and a man comes in to shoot Le Chiffre.  Vesper and Bond are left alive, but Bond must recover from his injuries. 

Two men drag Mathis away and Vesper and Bond fall in love (it’s rather sweet and the scenery is utterly breathtaking).  Bond is so in love with Vesper, he is willing to quit MI6 and sail around the world with her.  He sends M a resignation e-mail and their first stop is Italy.  Come morning, Vesper must leave their bed to withdraw money from the bank.  M calls Bond and he realizes that Vesper is stealing the money; it’s never been deposited into the British Treasury.  He races after her and discovers her handing over a briefcase to a man.  There is a final shootout in an old Italian building that Bond causes to sink.  The bad guys are all killed, but Vesper is locked in the old elevator.  Even after she’s betrayed him, Bond still tries to rescue her.  She lets herself drown, hoping that Bond will let himself rise to the surface.  He manages to bring her body up, but she’s already dead.  The same man in the suit who shot Le Chiffre takes the suitcase with the money.

M calls Bond again; Vesper was being blackmailed for the money, her boyfriend was being held hostage.  She remarks “sometimes we’re so focused on our enemies, that we forget to watch our friends” [I would say they should have learned that from Die Another Day, but in this continuity, that hasn’t happened yet.  Which could mean they should have learned by Die Another Day.  However, it is touching to see how compassionate M is being, without being overt about it].  And Bond has learned his lesson, don’t trust anyone.  Even though Vesper has been proven guilty, it doesn’t prove Mathis innocent.  Vesper has left one final thing for Bond: her cell phone with the final message: Mr. White, and a phone number.  Bond tracks down Mr. White and shoots his leg.  The final line: “the name is Bond.  James Bond.”  And cue the Bond theme.  Bond is back!

This Bond is a bit rougher, maybe demonstrating as a prequel that Bond hasn’t refined his polish yet to the spy we all love.  It’s full of action, but I think we see great depths in Daniel Craig.  He plays cards coolly, flirts with Vesper, and is not at all afraid to get his hands dirty.  A good first outing.

Up Next: Quantum of Solace

Dreams Can Kill You

Die Another Day

Brosnan’s last Bond film, sadly.  Also features Halle Berry (Storm in the early 2000’s X-Men) as Jinx, Toby Stephens (Prince John in BBC’s Robin Hood…oh, and I found out…he’s Dame Maggie Smith’s son!) as Gustav Graves, Rosamund Pike (very odd to watch her in this role after getting accustomed to the serene Jane in Pride and Prejudice, but she is a marvelous actress and this was her feature film debut) as Miranda Frost.  And if the one henchman, Kill looks familiar, he’s a Kiwi and did several bit parts in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit.  Young Colonel Moon is played by Wil Yun Lee who occasionally showed up in the rebooted Hawaii Five-0 as Sang Min.  Madonna performed the opening song (in good company with Sir Paul McCartney who did Only the Good Die Young), and made a cameo in the film as Verity, the fencing instructor.

We begin in North Korea, still a hotspot, though Bond oddly surfs in (because you don’t really think of Bond surfing) and takes over a meeting with two young Koreans; a general’s son, Colonel Moon and his bodyguard, Zao, over diamonds.  But he’s found out and tries to escape.  The C-4 he planted into the briefcase explodes, shooting diamonds into Zao.  Bond then chases Colonel Moon over a minefield in a hovercraft (Mythbusters did prove that this was plausible). Moon goes over a waterfall and Bond escapes, only to be captured by General Moon then tortured for fourteen months during the opening credits (the scorpions are creepy).

The general returns, hoping one last time to turn Bond on his former employers, who left him to rot and denied his existence.  General Moon also knows that there is a Western agent who flipped his son; he had hoped that  Western education would have been a bridge for his country, but he betrayed his country.  The general wants to know who; they most likely betrayed Bond as well.  But Bond doesn’t know and won’t tell.  He figures he will face a firing squad, but is instead part of a prisoner exchange with Zao.  He’s taken to medical before he can ask any questions.  M finally shows up and discusses the situation with him.  If she had had her way, Bond would still be a captive; his freedom came at too high a price – Zao.  The Americans fear that Bond was a leak in the prison, giving up secrets and they had to get him out.  But Bond had not broken.  He understood the danger every agent faces; they get caught, they’re on their own, there is no rescue.  But M can’t be entirely sure; with the drugs in his system, Bond may not have known if he was giving up information.  Bond insists someone else betrayed him.  “You’re no use to anyone now,” M remarks as she leaves.  Which simply encourages Bond to escape by lowering his heart rate, then springing into action.  He jumps ship and walks into the Hong Kong Yacht Club.

The manager knows him, even with the beard, and sets him up with a suite, food, and clothes.  Then sends a masseuse.  Bond knows it’s a trap and reveals that the manager works for Chinese Intelligence, but won’t rat him out, if he continues to help him.  Zao is a threat to them as well.  He’s pointed to Cuba, specifically a gene therapy clinic.  In Cuba, Bond meets a young woman as she emerges from the water (a throwback to the first Bond girl in Dr. No), Jinx.  The two flirt then hop in bed with one another (because it’s Bond).  Jinx is gone come morning, already heading into the clinic.  Bond sneaks in and discovers Zao.  They get in a fight and Jinx kills the head doctor and uses his computer to look up Zao.  A fire breaks out and then the building blows up, courtesy of Jinx.  Both Bond and Jinx chase Zao, but he gets away in a helicopter.  Bond did get a necklace he was wearing and discovers diamonds in it.  His contact informs him they are laser-etched in the signature of Gustav Graves, yet they have the chemical makeup of African conflict diamonds; just like the ones that Bond blew up at the beginning of the film [note, it is not that easy to simply tell where a diamond is from, and they do not travel in briefcases like in the beginning].

Bond knows he must return to Britain and meet this Gustav Graves (he parachutes into media meetings).  Graves is due to unveil his latest project, the Icarus Space Program.  Bond meets the man face-to-face at a fencing club and the two men try to one-up each other in sword fighting, under the guise of playing for a diamond, starting with foils and moving up to broadswords (it’s not great sword work, but still a bit flashy and makes you wonder who will bleed first).  Bond wins, but Graves’ assistant, Miranda Frost has to break them apart.  Graves invites Bond to his gala in Iceland.  Bond receives a key as he leaves and uses it in a backdoor.  He trades information with M, though he’s not officially reinstated.  Q goes over his new gadgets, including virtual reality simulation glasses, a car that uses mirrors to appear invisible, a ring to break glass, and his twentieth watch (a nod to this being the twentieth Bond film).  We see M briefly speak to Miranda Frost; apparently an MI6 agent whose three month assignment has been to get close to Graves.  Frost determines he is clean and reports she is wise enough to not get involved with Bond.

An Ice Palace has been created for Graves’ event in Iceland.  He continues to get his thrills by driving a high-speed ice car.  We also note that Jinx has arrived for the gala and Bond tries to flirt with Frost (not knowing she is MI6) and gets nowhere.  Zao also happily greets Graves.  Graves introduces his Icarus Project as a seeming “second sun,” with use to grow crops year-round and bring light to darkness.  Later, it seems that Icarus has been modified for Graves’ use, and Jinx has wandered off.  Frost gives herself away as MI6 to Bond by kissing him as a distraction and telling him she told M she didn’t want him there.  They bed each other to continue the charade as lovers, but Bond leaves to take care of the situation.  Jinx in the meantime has snuck into Graves’ lab and is captured by his henchman.  His henchman wants to use the lasers to kill Jinx, but Bond stumbles upon her and rescues her. 

Bond then confronts Graves, who has lived to die another day – Graves used gene therapy to change his face from Colonel Moon.  Miranda arrives, and betrays Bond…again.  She was the agent who sided with Moon and got Bond captured.  Bond uses his ring to break glass to escape, then drives away in Graves’ ice car.  Graves uses Icarus as a laser to chase Bond, but Bond skis out of trouble (with noticeable CGI).  Then Zao drives his own car after Bond in his gadget car.  Bond crashes into the Ice Palace to rescue Jinx, who will soon drown in a melting Palace that Graves hit with his laser.  Zao is also killed in a crash in the Palace.

Jinx and Bond head to South Korea; Jinx is an American NSA agent and they are formally teaming up to take down Graves.  The two agents manage to get on Graves’ plane as the Americans attempt to blow up Icarus, which does not work out.  Graves/Moon reveals himself to his father, expecting him to be proud, but General Moon is not (seems he has more honor than his son).  He’s killed and a hole is blown into the airplane, causing massive suction.  Frost (in a ridiculous skimpy outfit for no good reason) takes on Jinx with a sword.  Jinx has set the plane to fly into Icarus.  Bond takes on Graves; Graves electrocutes Bond, then takes the last parachute, but Bond opens it early, dragging the man into the engine.  The plane is falling apart, Jinx manages to stab Frost, and the good guys have to use Graves’ fancy helicopter to escape (which luckily has the diamonds inside).  They put those diamonds to “good” use when they snuggle up with each other in a remote cottage.

I’m not thrilled with Jinx as a Bond girl; I will admit, they at least give her some action and motivation, but barely and she gets captured and stuck twice, to be rescued by Bond.  Frost, meanwhile, is far more intriguing.  Jinx was too easy.  It’s a bit of a trend with some of the Bond films I’ve just watched.  Christmas Jones was practically useless in the last movie and Elektra had far more development.  Natalya in GoldenEye was more compelling and Bond did not instantly fall into bed with Onatop.  Wai Lin struck a happy medium and got a better fight scene, though she too fell easily into Bond’ arms.

Up Next: Casino Royale

Don’t Taunt the World-Class Spy

The World is Not Enough

Pierce Brosnan’s third Bond film.  They cast the superb Robert Carlyle (Rumple/Mr. Gold in Once Upon a Time, Durza in Eragon, and he was in Stargate Universe/SGU as well) as the villain Renard.  Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, and Robbie Coltrane all return.  John Cleese (one of the comedic geniuses of Monty Python) joins as R, who will replace Q one day (this was Llewelyn’s last appearance as Q) and Sophie Marceau (Princess Isabelle in Braveheart) stars as Elektra King.

Bond is initially in Spain, retrieving money from a Swiss banker, but he really wants the name of the man who killed an MI6 agent.  The Swiss banker middle man is killed before Bond can get the information and then strangely, Bond himself is saved from an assassin.  He jumps out the window with the money and returns to MI6 headquarters in London (they did film near the actual headquarters despite worries of security, it is quoted that “After all Bond has done for Britain, it is the least we can do for Bond.”)  Bond briefly meets M’s friend, Mr. King.  As they sit and drink, discussing the stolen files that the money purchased, Bond realizes that Mr. King’s money is a trap and rushes to save Mr. King, but he is too late.  He catches sight of a woman on a boat and takes one of Q’s boats to high speed chase after her [I doubt that boat could actually run on pavement, but it’s Bond, so there’s techno-magic].  The woman tries to escape in a hot air balloon, but shoots it down before she can be captured, insisting that Bond cannot protect her from “him.”  Bond injures his shoulder in the subsequent fall.

After the opening credits, Bond and MI6 officials attend Mr. King’s funeral in Scotland and are introduced to King’s daughter, Elektra.  Their headquarters are in an old castle (the picturesque Eileen Donan…I love that castle) and M orders King’s case to be solved.  But Bond is off active duty until he is cleared by a doctor.  So, Bond charms the doctor, after she warns him that any more tendons snap, and he’ll be out of commission for weeks.  Bond visits Q on his way to M and is introduced to R.  Q is upset that Bond destroyed his “fishing” boat for his retirement, away from Bond.  Bond is sad to think about Q leaving and in true enigmatic fashion, the Quartermaster informs the secret agent: I taught you two things, never let them see you bleed, and always have an escape plan.  (It’s a touching scene in hindsight since Desmond Llewelyn was killed in a car crash a month after the film opened).  Bond also reviews Elektra King’s file, including her kidnapping years ago, and comes to the discovery that her ransom amount of $5,000,000.00 equals the £3,030,303.03 he retrieved and killed King.  He takes his suspicions to M.  And we see a rather tender relationship between Bond and M; she even admits that against all maternal instincts, she told Mr. King not to pay Elektra’s ransom in order to draw out the kidnapper.  When M receives a message that the terrorist might be back, she orders Bond to protect Elektra.

The terrorist is known as Renard and another MI6 agent was able to put a bullet in his head, but it didn’t kill him.  Instead, it is slowly killing him by first killing his senses; he can feel no pain.  He will die, but he will get stronger every day prior.  Elektra tries to send Bond home, but he persists, even saving her life from parachuting snowmobilers.  After that, Elektra asks Bond to stay, though he refuses to sleep with her (probably because M would kill him).  He goes to a casino to see his old friend Valentine for information, though Elektra drops in there.  We see that Elektra’s head of security is in the league with Renard.  Bond deals with him later that evening, after bedding Elektra.  Bond takes the man’s place and is quickly involved in breaking into an old Soviet nuclear facility.  A young, attractive female physicist is there, Dr. Christmas Jones (dressed like Lara Croft for some unpractical purpose).  Bond gets a chance to kill Renard, who admits that he spared Bond in Spain so they could meet later.  Renard also quotes Elektra, which makes Bond pause.  There’s a scuffle, a chip is taken out of the nuclear bomb, Renard gets away with the bomb and starts an explosion at the facility, Jones and Bond narrowly escape.

Elektra calls M and asks her to come; M agrees.  Bond confronts Elektra, who denies all his allegations, that she developed Stockholm Syndrome when she was kidnapped by Renard.  Bond begins to tell M his suspicions, but the bomb is detected in the pipeline.  Bond takes Jones to diffuse the bomb and they discover that only half of the plutonium is being used.  Meaning the other half is missing.  Bond lets the bomb harmlessly explode, so it will appear that he is dead.  Elektra uses it as an opportunity to reveal to M that she was responsible for her father’s death and take M into custody.

Bond goes back to Valentine to get more information and they’re discovered by Elektra.  She sends her tree cutting saw to cut her enemies in half, but they escape.  In the meantime, Elektra happily greets Renard and they discuss their plan to blow up the port in Istanbul with the plutonium so her pipeline will be the only one left.  They both blame M for her lack of rescue during the kidnapping situation.  But M is not out of the game yet; she has the locator chip.  She uses the battery in the clock that is left to power the locator, bringing Bond to her.  Part of Renard’s plan is to use a submarine to get the plutonium into position (which is captained by Valentine’s nephew, who is then poisoned by Renard).  Bond goes after the bad guys, Renard gets a hold of Jones and Elektra takes Bond to torture.  “I could give you the world,” she tells him.  “The world is not enough,” he responds with his family’s motto (and title drop).  Elektra is convinced that Bond cannot kill a woman he loved.  He pursues her once he is freed, with some help from Valentine, stopping only to shoot open M’s cell.  He shouts for her to call Renard off; innocent people need not die just so she can claim her bit of the world.  She won’t.  Bond shoots.  Then jumps after the sub.

Bond quickly rescues Jones and intends to bring the sub to the surface so it will be on satellite and call in the navy.  Except it gets stuck in a dive and crashes into the bottom of the bay and begins to flood.  Renard opens the reactor and tries to insert the plutonium, but Bond fights him (and keeps aggravating his shoulder), eventually firing the rod back into Renard.  He and Jones quickly swim out of the sub before it explodes.  He then predictably goes off the grid to seduce the newest lady.

I like the storyline of this movie better than other Bond films.  There’s not as much technobabble.  Plutonium is understandably bad, as are nuclear reactors.  Oil pipelines are a concept I understand.  This isn’t Robert Carlyle’s greatest villain role (he gets to be just plain evil in Eragon and far more nuanced in Once Upon a Time), but he is fairly creepy.  Honestly, they could have done without Christmas Jones (and they only named her Christmas for the puns); Elektra was a far more elusive character.  We saw softer sides to some of our repeat characters.  Q was touching, I always smile when Moneypenny flirts with Bond knowing that it will go nowhere.  Bond can resist sleeping with a woman when he wants to (again, there was no reason for that bit at the end between him and Jones aside from its “Bond.”)  And M is more than a stern figurehead of an intelligence agency.

Next Time: Die Another Day

Well, he did return the car…in relatively one piece

Tomorrow Never Dies

The second Pierce Brosnan Bond film.  Features Jonathan Pryce as Elliott Carver (yeah, a bit disconcerting to watch this after seeing him as Governor Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean).  Julian Fellowes (yep, the creator of Downton Abbey) makes an appearance as well, and if the admiral later in the film looks familiar, that is Michael Byrne (he appears as Merlin in The Mists of Avalon and Treville in The Musketeer, as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

The opening takes place at an arms bazaar on the Russian border, the British intelligence office looking in.  Of course, the military wants to just bomb it and be done, but M urges caution; there is more intelligence to be gleaned.  Well, the admiralty fires a missile anyway and orders MI6’s agent, Bond, to get out of there.  Oh wait, there’s a very dangerous nuclear torpedo on site that you don’t want blown up.  Bond does his job, disrupts the bazaar, blows things up, and flies the plane out of there in the nick of time.

The main plot starts with a British ship in the South China Sea.  Two Chinese MiGs fly by and warn that the ship is in Chinese water.  According to the ship’s navigation, they’re in international water.  What neither side knows is that at Carver Media headquarters, the whole mess is being directed by Carver.  In the water he has a stealth ship that drills into the British ship and then fires missiles at the Chinese, all to start an international incident.  He also has an encoder that has managed to scramble the British signal and they were actually in the wrong area.  Elliot Carver’s plan is simply to become the head of the largest media conglomeration and he’ll do that by writing tomorrow’s headlines today.  And by instigating the disasters and then he’ll have exclusive coverage.

Bond is sent to investigate; M suggests pumping his old fling, Paris for information, because Paris is now married to Elliott Carver.  He has forty-eight hours to discover the truth before the fleet moves in.  Carver suspects Bond of something and his little stooge is listening in and discovers that Paris knows Bond.  So he sends his wife after Bond.  She of course succumbs to Bond’s charm again even though they both fight it.  Bond doesn’t want to put her in danger, but Paris knows what kind of man her husband is and gives Bond the information he needs.  Bond offers to protect her, but she declines.  Carver sends a “doctor” to his wife anyway.

After Bond infiltrates Carver’s office, he steals back the encoder and meets Chinese intelligence agent, Wai Lin.  When Bond returns to his room, he discovers Paris dead and the assassin waiting for him.  The “doctor” [is it just me, or is he a little clichéd?] is a professional and sits his victim down to talk to him first.  Bond still overpowers him and escapes, leading to an expert car chase in the parking garage.  Bond gets to use the remote control that Q created (very cool).  He then meets up with the Americans near the South China Sea to return their encoder and they discover that it sent the British ship off course.  Bond elects to HALO jump into Vietnamese territory and dive down to the wreck for further investigation.  There, he encounters Wai Lin again and they discover that one of the ship’s missiles is missing. Once the pair surfaces, they’re taken by Carver’s men and he goes into his villainous monologue.  He intends for his associate to torture and kill them.  Of course, Wai Lin and Bond work together and escape, leading to a rather hilarious motorbike chase while the pair is handcuffed and have to negotiate how they sit on and steer the bike.

After destroying a marketplace, Wai Lin is determined to finish the mission on her own, but Bond follows her.  Good thing, because Carver has sent more local men.  Now, Wai Lin takes them out on her on (super cool) and Bond just gets to knock out the last guy holding a gun.  Wai Lin agrees to work with a “decadent, corrupt Western agent,” and they both agree to get their governments talking to each other to stop the debacle.  They just have to figure out where Carver’s stealth boat is hidden.  The two agents sneak on and start setting bombs, but they’re quickly discovered.  Wai Lin is captured and Bond makes it look like he’s dead, so he can continue to sneak about.  Carver’s plan to further the explosive situation is to fire the British missile into China and then China will retaliate and thus the British fleet with retaliate further.

And how do you expect it to end?  Wai Lin gets free and stops the stealth ship; they’ve managed to get word to both militaries to be on the lookout for a stealth ship.  Bond causes an explosion that makes the ship a target and the Brits start firing.  Bond uses the drill on Carver, then rescues Wai Lin, after he takes on Carver’s last man and sets the missile to explode (complete with witty one liner: “I owe you an unpleasant death, Mr. Bond”).  HUGE fireball!  And Bond gets a little more time “undercover” with Wai Lin.

Carver is just an ego maniac.  He admits he likes an audience to his plans.  He quotes Hearst: “you provide the pictures, I will provide the war,” and takes that as his goal in life.  I spend most of the film wanting Bond to punch him in the face.  The film also shows its age a bit; the Internet is burgeoning, GPS is new, techno babble that most people don’t understand.  Now, I find the storyline a little dull; but it is also still completely plausible.  That kind of situation is still possible today.  Pierce as Bond is charming and suave and I enjoy seeing the tender side of him; he cares about the women he encounters.  I appreciate that Wai Lin holds her own, but her character seems sort of thrown in.

Next Time: The World is Not Enough

“Shut the door, Alec! There’s a draft!”

GoldenEye

My parents have watched most all of the James Bond films, but Pierce Brosnan is my mom’s favorite Bond actor, so those were the movies that went on when I was growing up.  So I’m starting with those; I’ve seen bits of the older movies, but I have not watched a Sean Connery Bond film all the way through (I’ll get to it, someday). 

James Bond started as a novel series by Ian Fleming.  His main character, James Bond, goes by the codename “007” (the double-O status means he has “license to kill”) and is a member of the British secret service (MI6; which is a real thing).  Bond is also known for beating up bad guys and seducing women along the way; I believe I’ve heard “women want him and men want to be him.”  He’s suave, charming, and deadly.  Usually seen in a well-cut suit sipping a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, and a different Bond girl on his arm in every movie.

GoldenEye is Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond movie; he was supposed to star in The Living Daylights, but the show Remington Steele (which has some Bond elements to it; I recommend you check it out) held on to Pierce.  Sean Bean (Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings are two of his later hits, but he’s also appeared in Patriot Games and National Treasure [which I’ll get to], as well as Troy, the show Medici [which also starred Thrones‘ Richard Madden and Merlin’s Bradley James], Sharpe, and Percy Jackson) is Alec Trevelyan.  Famke Janssen (Jean Grey in the earlier 2000’s X-Men) is Xenia Onatopp, Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid in Harry Potter) is Valentin Zukovksy, Alan Cumming (“Rooster” Hannigan in Disney’s production of Annie, he was also in the 2000’s X-Men movies as Kurt Wagner/ Nightcrawler) is Boris Grishenko.  Samantha Bond (Lady Rosamund, Robert’s sister in Downton Abbey, and is part of the Who-verse from her appearance in The Sarah Jane Adventures) appears as Moneypenny, Desmond Llewelyn continues as Q (Coggins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and the iconic Judi Dench is the new M.  [This is the only Bond movie where James Bond, M, and Miss Moneypenny were all re-cast with a different actor or actress.  Desmond Llewelyn as Q is the only holdover]

The film starts with Bond bungee-jumping off a dam.  We also meet 006, a friend and co-worker of Bond’s.  They’re doing their job, to save the world, for England, on a joint mission to blow up a chemical plant in the USSR.  006, Alec Trevelyan, is caught by the bad guys and Bond re-sets the timers on the bomb.  He witnesses Alec shot in the head and manages to make it out of the building while bullets fly.  Then he runs after a plane taking off and when that doesn’t work, drives a motorcycle off the cliff and free dives into the falling plane, bringing the plane up in time to not run into the mountains and witness the explosion of the chemical plant.  A rather thrilling opening [and one of my parents’ favorites].  The theme plays with the customary silhouetted women.

We next see Bond, presumably several years later, driving his car over the speed limit to impress the woman seated beside him.  Then he gets more reckless when a pretty woman in a Ferrari drives by and they start racing each other, until the woman orders Bond to stop.  Then, he charms the woman, who is his psychiatrist; classic Bond.  And another Bond classic, a casino.  Where he meets the mysterious woman, Onatopp (oh, isn’t that just laden with innuendo).  They flirt, but she leaves with another man.  Bond follows and spies on them.  We see Onatopp kill the Admiral “in the act.”  Come morning, Bond sneaks on, finds the dead Admiral, realizes something is up, and starts to make for the military demonstration of a new stealth helicopter.  Onatopp is apparently also a pilot and takes the place of the actual pilots, then makes off with the helicopter.  She flies it to a remote Space Weapons Control Center in Russia.  There, we meet Natalya and Boris.  Boris likes to hack in his spare time, and make lude jokes to his female coworkers.  He goes out for a smoke and the helicopter lands.  Natalya is making a coffee when Onatopp and the general from the start of the movie enter.  The general goes through the procedure to retrieve the GoldenEye device, then lets Onatopp open fire on everyone.  She oddly enjoys it.  Natalya hides, until a space laser, activated by the GoldenEye, fires into the center, starting a fire.  She eventually escapes in the aftermath of the damage.

Meanwhile, Bond is being briefed on the situation on the helicopter in England.  Through satellites they witness the destruction of the control center, well, not all of it because the laser also emits an electromagnetic pulse, knocking out all electronics [that part, I get.  The laser and such, not so much].  Bond is also introduced to the new M; there is a mutual dislike at the beginning; M believes Bond to be a relic of the past and she has no compunction about sending a men to his death.  However, she will not do it on a whim and does urge Bond to not let this mission be all about revenge (since the general was the man who shot Alec)  and asks that he comes back alive.  Q has the obligatory gadgets including a pen grenade for Bond and reminds him “you have a license to kill, not to break traffic laws,” please return the equipment.

Bond gains a CIA contact in Russia and meets an old friend; well, former enemy who has at least decided to not kill Bond for the time being.  Then he has another run in with Onatopp (in a pool because Pierce looks very good shirtless) and Onatopp of course tries to squeeze the life out of the British agent, but he breaks her hold.  Natalya also meets up with Boris, which ends up being a trap (smart movie goers could guess that).  Bond gets another blast from the past; turns out Alec isn’t dead!  No, he wants revenge against the British government and Bond by extension due to his loyalty, for the betrayal his parents endured years ago.  Onatopp works for him and they trap both Bond and Natalya in the helicopter, rigged to fire a missile at itself.  Bond brilliantly ejects them.  They’re picked up by the government and Bond attempts the typical spy banter, but Natalya gets down to business, which saves them.  Until the traitorous general comes in and literally blows their burgeoning plan to pieces.  Bond pulls Natalya behind him, though they get separated.  Bond then decides that a tank is a suitable vehicle to drive in the streets of St. Petersburg to chase after the general and Natalya (causing mass destruction, and cue the Bond theme).

Everyone meets up on a train, after Bond positions the tank to derail the train and fires.  He jumps out and boards the train.  Alec quips, “why can’t you just be a good boy and die!”  “You first,” Bond responds.  Alec points out that the situation is hopeless for Bond, he has no back-up, no escape route, and Alec holds the bargaining chip in the form of Natalya.  He knows Bond’s secrets and weaknesses and attempts to get in his old friend’s head.  Alec and Onatopp escape, Bond shoots the general, and Natalya hacks into the train to find out where the villainous couple are headed.  Bond cuts through the floor of the train before it blows.  “Do you destroy every vehicle you get into?” Natalya asks later.  Bond claims it to be standard operating procedure.

The CIA unofficially helps Bond and Natalya get to Cuba [there’s an unneeded scene on a random beach before between Natalya and Bond simply to give another excuse for them to kiss and demonstrate that Bond gets the girl] , but they can’t spot the giant satellite dish required to run the GoldenEye.  Well, that’s because they hid it under a lake.  Onatopp is sent out to take care of the heroic couple after they’re shot down.  Bond gets the upper hand again and rigs the cords so Onatopp is strangled by her own helicopter.  Bond and Natalya sneak in and Bond begins to place bombs, but he’s captured.  Alec knows to disarm Bond and even take his watch [fun fact, this is the first Bond film that features an Omega watch, previous films showcased Rolex watches and occasional Seikos for technology features].  But Boris gets a hold of the pen when Natalya punches him.

Alec’s big plan?  Is to hack into the British bank then set off the GoldenEye EMP directly after so his tracks are covered, and creating a worldwide financial meltdown.  Bond points out he is simply a petty thief.  Natalya was busy when she was near the computer and messed up the guidance system on the satellite that controls GoldenEye, then encrypts it.  Boris is confident he can break it, but he struggles.  Bond notes that Boris has the unconscious habit of clicking his pen; with the Q pen he’s constantly arming and disarming the grenade inside.  Bond times it right to duck when Boris drops his pen, setting off an explosion (though random liquid nitrogen freezes Boris hilariously).  Alec goes after Bond, resulting in hand-to-hand fighting.  The explosion sets off more fires and Natalya demonstrates she’s an action girl too and rescues Bond.  Alec falls into the satellite dish, but doesn’t die until the antenna spears into him.  Bond and Natalya escape and Bond takes the time to start kissing Natalya.  They’re alone, he promises.  Until Marines pop up.

Since this is my mother’s favorite Bond film and the primary Bond film I’ve watched, I do have some fondness for it.  Oh, the technology in it is laughable now, but Boris is kind of funny, though he needs a good kick somewhere for his attitude.  Sean Bean makes an excellent villain.  GoldenEye has all the trademarks of a good action-adventure movie.  Some fights.  Save the world storyline.  Quips and banter.  Hero gets the girl.  Overall, it’s a fun movie to watch.  And I agree with my mother, Pierce is my favorite Bond; he’s more suave than Daniel Craig (but more on that later)

Next Time: Tomorrow Never Dies

The Adventures Continue

Sherlock – Season Four

The final season of Sherlock, so far. Not terribly sure we’ll get another season, since Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are both busy with other projects. This is not my favorite season, but I guess the ending is somewhat satisfying. The Six Thatchers picks up where season three ended, Sherlock is back in England to solve the final Moriarty mystery. In the meantime, while he waits for clues, he continues to solve cases. And Mary and John’s baby arrives, a little girl they name Rosamund Mary, “Rosie.” I adore the scene where Sherlock is minding Rosie and speaks in eloquent sentences that boil down to: “If you’d like to keep the rattle, than don’t throw the rattle.” To which Rosie promptly responds by throwing the rattle back in Sherlock’s face!

Sherlock is put on the case of the mysterious death of a young man in a parked car in England when he was supposedly on vacation a week prior. Turns out, he wasn’t gone, he had hoped to surprise his father at his birthday the week prior, but had suffered some sort of stroke or something and died in the midst of the surprise and wasn’t discovered for a week. But what fascinates Sherlock is a smashed plaster bust of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A slew of alike busts end up smashed. He stakes out the final bust and confronts the criminal, thinking it’s connected to Moriarty. It’s not, it goes back to Mary and her past as an agent. Her team was betrayed on their last mission and the only other survivor thinks it was Mary’s fault. it wasn’t, but Mary doesn’t want to put John and Rosie in danger, so she sneaks away, using her old skill set. Sherlock and John track her down and the old teammate dies when the police interrupt their discussion.

Sherlock promises to keep Mary safe and they all return to England. Sherlock first suspects Lady Smallwood, then realizes it was her secretary. He confronts her, as does Mary. The woman essentially did it for money, pulls a gun on Sherlock and Mary and hopes they will let her go if she promises to stop. Sherlock annoys her, but Mary jumps in front of the bullet. Mycroft, Lestrade, and John are on the scene. Mary apologizes to Sherlock for shooting him last year; they’re even now. She dies in John’s arms. John’s anger and grief are a bit hard to watch (meaning wonderful acting).

At home, there is a disc that arrived for Sherlock, labeled “Miss Me?” We all think it’s from Moriarty. No, Mary, getting Sherlock’s attention. She has one last case for Sherlock, save John Watson. Except, John doesn’t want to see Sherlock.

This carries over to The Lying Detective. John has gone to another therapist and during his session, a fancy red car shows up. Then we jump to Culverton Smith (played by Toby Jones; we’ve seen him in Ever After, Amazing Grace, The Hunger Games and the Captain America movies as Dr. Arnim Zola. He was the Dream Lord in an episode of Doctor Who during Matt Smith’s stint as the Doctor; he has also voiced Dobby in Harry Potter) hosting a gathering of his friends; he wants to confess something. Honestly, he creeps me out from the start. From there we see that Sherlock is not doing well separated from John. Smith’s daughter approaches him; she wants Sherlock to stop her father, he wants to kill someone. But Sherlock is off his game, he’s not able to keep up with his brain. Though he comes around in time to stop the woman from killing herself with the gun in her purse; and gives an excellent message (still reeling himself from Mary’s death):

Taking your own life. Interesting expression, taking it from who? Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death happens to everyone else. Your life is not your own, keep your hands off it.

And Sherlock, well, Benedict, is rather impressive quoting Henry V‘s “once more unto the breech” speech. At that point, Mrs. Hudson coerces Sherlock into the trunk of her red sports car and drives to John, bringing us back to the start of the episode. Then they meet Culverton Smith and follow his day to a hospital, where the man creeps everyone out asking about serial killers (Sherlock had accused him of such on Twitter earlier). Sherlock hopes that Smith’s daughter will help put the nail in the coffin of his accusation, then it turns out the woman he met was not Smith’s daughter. Sherlock is very high at the moment. Smith won’t press charges, but he’ll take care of Sherlock.

John (after he beats up Sherlock a bit, Sherlock is fine with he, he did kill Mary) meets up with Mycroft in Sherlock’s flat. Mrs. Hudson takes control of the situation; she understands Sherlock where the other two men do not. Sherlock is emotional; that’s why he shoots the wall and stabs a problem. There is another disc, waiting for John. She orders Mycroft’s team out, and even Mycroft Holmes himself: “Get out of my house, you reptile.” John watches her message to Sherlock (he’s been seeing her ever since her death. It’s rather funny when “Mary” points out what Sherlock is doing to John and that what she is saying is John’s own brain). For Sherlock to save John, he must go to Hell; John will save him and in saving Sherlock, will save himself.

Back at the hospital, Culverton Smith has snuck into Sherlock’s room. Sherlock reveals that he wants Culverton to help kill him; increase the dosage on the drugs. But that takes too long for Culverton; smothering will be quicker. John bursts in at that point. Sherlock has managed to capture Smith’s confession in a listening device in John’s cane. Once in Baker Street again, “Mary” urges John to remain with Sherlock. Emotions come out and are dealt with. John reveals that he was cheating on Mary; he was texting a woman from the bus. It never went farther, but he wanted it to. And John urges Sherlock to respond to Irene Adler because he knows there is no guarantee how long you have with someone. John breaks down and Sherlock hugs his friend.

sherlock hug john

Things are better. Sherlock and John solve cases, Sherlock wears the hat. There may be a “thing” between Smallwood and Mycroft, interesting. John visits his new therapist again. She brings up the secret Holmes sibling that has been hinted at for years. Turns out the therapist was the woman that Sherlock met and talked out of suicide and she was the woman from the bus that was texting John. She is Eurus (the East Wind), the Holmes’ sister. The episode ends with her holding a gun on John.

The Final Problem is Eurus. Sherlock gives his elder brother a fright in his own home in order to make deductions (part of that may have been influenced by John). Though we do discover that inside Mycroft’s famous umbrella is a sword! Then a pistol! (Though, why is there a clown?) Mycroft reports to Baker Street the next day and finally reveals that Eurus is indeed the youngest of the Holmes’ siblings. But Sherlock doesn’t remember her. Childhood trauma, Mycroft explains. Sherlock blocked it. Eurus is a quantifiable genius, but she didn’t process things the same way as most people. She locked up Redbeard and wouldn’t tell anyone. Then she set fire to the family home. She had to be locked away. Mycroft eventually told his parents that she started another fire and died. Instead, she’s in Sherrenford, a maximum security prison. A drone flies into the flat with a motion sensor grenade. The three men wait until Mrs. Hudson is out of danger, Sherlock even brings up the possibility of John calling his daughter but there is no chance, then they move. Sherlock and John leap out a window and Mycroft is to make for the stairs.

Sherlock gets to be a pirate for a moment and commandeer a boat to get to Sherrenford. John is taken into Sherreford with a sea captain, who turns out to be Mycroft. Sherlock is already disguised as a guard and makes his way down to meet his sister. Mycroft berates the governor of the prison for the compromise in security; obviously Eurus made it out of the prison against his orders. And there was a psychiatric exam against his orders as well. Eurus can reprogram people, never to good results. This unfortunately includes the governor of the prison. And there is no glass on Eurus’s cell. She attacks Sherlock.

Mycroft’s Christmas gift is revealed to have been an unsupervised five minute conversation with Moriarty. Moriarty recorded lots of things for Eurus. (Yeah, not a good idea to put the two most dangerous psychopaths in the same room, especially when they both have a vendetta against Sherlock.) Eurus is now in control of the facility and has a series of tests lined up for her brothers and John. She is testing Sherlock’s emotions and logic First, either Mycroft or John will have to shoot the governor in order to save his wife. Mycroft refuses. John accepts, but ultimately can’t do it. The governor does it for them, but that breaks the parameters and Eurus shoots his wife anyway. Next, Sherlock is to solve a case with little information and pass judgment on three brothers for a murder. Eurus in due course kills all three, not understanding the hesitancy to take someone else’s life. Next, Eurus has wired explosives in Molly Hooper’s flat. Sherlock has three minutes to get Molly to say “I love you.” Poor Molly. It’s true, she has always loved Sherlock. Molly asks Sherlock to say it and mean it first. And he does. Molly whispers it in return. Turns out, there were no explosives; she just put her brother and a dear friend through emotional turmoil for nothing. Sherlock smashes the coffin in the room. All three men need hugs. But they must solider on.

In the next room, Sherlock is to choose which man to kill; only he and one other can continue on. Interspersed is a phone call with a scared little girl in a plane about to crash. Sherlock can be remarkable with children. Mycroft first tells Sherlock to shoot John, which John agrees. But Sherlock realizes that Mycroft is trying to goad him into killing his older brother. He cannot choose; both men are important to him. They are tranquilized. Sherlock wakes up in the burnt out family home, Musgrave Hall. Now, he has to find where John is trapped; the same place as Redbeard. Though there was one detail that Mycroft never told Sherlock. Redbeard was never a dog. “Redbeard” was Sherlock’s childhood best friend. They played pirates together. And Eurus had wanted to join, but boys being boys, they didn’t let her, so she chained the boy to the bottom of a well and let him drown. The little song she sang comes into play, along with the mismatched dates on the gravestones. Sherlock finds Eurus and figures out there was no actual plane that was about to crash; it was Eurus being scared and confused all her life.

A change comes to Sherlock and his family (which includes John). Sherlock now supports Mycroft, especially when the elder has to explain all that has happened to their parents. Sherlock visits Eurus and they play violin duets; she can never rejoin society, not after all she’s done. There is a sweet scene of Sherlock playing with John and Rosie. The parting words are Mary’s; she has always known what her men are. In the end, it’s all about the legend, the stories, and the adventures of the detective and his doctor. Her Baker Street Boys.

One element that I do like about this season is it humanizes the characters, particularly Mycroft and Sherlock. Sherlock admits that he can get full of himself. He is willing to kill himself to save John, even though he really doesn’t want to die (oh my goodness, whoever has to listen to that recording and hear Sherlock almost in tears saying “I don’t want to die…”) He truly views John and Mary as family. He lets Mrs. Hudson handcuff him to take him to John. And Mycroft is revealed to have always cared for Sherlock, and not just in passing. He protected him from the truth of what their little sister did (I can’t scrounge up too much sympathy for a person who knowingly and willingly let another child die, then wished the same upon their brother). As Lestrade says at the end, Sherlock Holmes is a good man.

The Eurus spin doesn’t quite sit well with me. The reveal of Mary’s old team seemed rushed. And Culverton, while extremely creepy, also seems contrived.

Now, for my favorite part of Sherlock…the fandom!

The Hillywood Show has done a parody video. I’m personally not familiar with the song they parodied, but the video is quite excellent. And check out the behind the scenes videos and video diaries; they filmed on the same location as scenes in the show, to the confusion of some British fans (their make-up is spot on). And Percy Weasley from Harry Potter guests stars at their Mycroft and Osric Chau (Kevin Tran from Supernatural and he has worked with the Hillywood girls before) is their Moriarty. There is a whole slew of other parodies; I started with the two Supernatural videos.

The fans already thought that there was another Holmes sibling long before Season Four, though it was a younger brother. Notice the new, young “Q” in Skyfall? (This is the theory I abide with) Could “Q” stand for Quentin, keeping with the unusual names? Ktwontwo has a whole series written about this family. Another fanfiction author, A Wandering Minstrel, suggests Trevalyan.

superwholock crowley
This is an actual conversation that came up at a convention. Mark Sheppard is a staple to fantasy shows including Doctor Who and Supernatural; of course he knows about Superwholock.

And then there is the whole “Superwholock” crossover deal. It’s a combination of Supernatural with Doctor Who and Sherlock. It’s funny, though I don’t quite understand how all three get squashed together. Maybe it’s angels? Sherlock states he’s not one of them, Doctor Who has the Weeping Angels, and Castiel is an angel. Ultimately it may boil down to they were the three most popular shows at the same time for a while.

After the Holidays: We’ll get back to some other historically based movies, starting with Master and Commander

Sherlock Still Has to Wear the Hat

The Abominable Bride

The special 2016 New Year’s Sherlock special we got, set immediately after season three. They do a quick recap, “so far on Sherlock” then pose “alternatively…” All of our favorite characters are back, but set in Victorian England like the original work. We start with a Victorian re-telling of how John and Sherlock met, complete with Sherlock whipping a corpse in the morgue. Some time has now passed and John has been publishing his Sherlock stories in the Strand magazine (which is how they were originally published). The Abominable Bride is a case, briefly prefaced by Mary disguising herself as a client in order to visit her husband. A few comments made about a woman’s place in Victorian England; they are right on the cusp of the right to vote. Lestrade enters with the tale of a woman dressed as a bride shooting into a crowd, then committing suicide. But the strange part is, the next day, she appears in physical form to kill her husband. Molly Hooper poses as a man and Anderson works beneath her (a bit funny). She/he stands up to Sherlock, which is also awesome and reflective of hr progression in characterization. Sherlock begins to wonder if this is connected to Moriarty’s resurrection.

Months have passed and Mycroft calls for Sherlock, though he is humorously obese. Five more murders have occurred and he knows that a woman will be waiting for Sherlock and Watson at Baker Street upon their return. Her husband has been sent orange pips and knows his death is imminent (played by Tim McInnerny, who has appeared in Game of Thrones, Outlander, the live-action 101 and 102 Dalmatians, and Black Adder). John wonders if it could be an actual ghost, Sherlock insists it isn’t. They fail to save the husband. A note is later attached to the body: “miss me?” Some newer phrases start popping into Sherlock’s dialogue, like “virus in data” (this is alongside popular phrases like “the game is afoot;” they changed it to “the game is on” in the new series since most people don’t say “afoot” anymore). Floating newspaper clippings are a stand in for the Mind Palace. And Sherlock’s famous seven-percent solution is openly mentioned. Sherlock confronts Moriarty but finds no answers.

victorian sherlock

We’re jarred to the present by the airplane (from the end of season three) landing. Sherlock has delved deep into himself, wondering how he would have solved the famous case if he had been around at that time. Mycroft interrupts his younger brother, demanding if Sherlock has made a list. Ever since he found Sherlock years ago overdosed, he has made his brother swear to make a list of everything he has taken. Sherlock was high when he got on the plane; turns out solitary confinement is the worst thing for Sherlock. Mycroft reminds his brother “I will always be there for you.” I adore the sentiment we are seeing; I am a sucker for brotherly relationships [ooo, that gives me an idea of an essay to write]. Moriarty was wrong about Mycroft and Magnuson was correct; the eldest Holmes is not the Ice Man, but Sherlock is his weakness.

Back in Victorian times, word gets to Sherlock and John that Mary is in danger. Sherlock will always protect Mary, of that John can be certain. I also adore that they show Mary kicking butt!. She’s working for Mycroft and has found the heart of the conspiracy. Sherlock proposes that it was a group of women who banded together to extract revenge on the cruel men of their lives. The bride did not actually shoot herself the first time. Which left her able to kill her husband, then had help killing herself so a positive identification could be made. The rest were copy cat killers. There are tricks that can be used to make a ghost appear and in conclusion, the wife killed her husband. But underneath it’s still Moriarty. Sherlock is stuck dreaming between the present-day world and Victorian world. Again, he confronts Moriarty, though at the famous Reichenbach Falls. John comes as back up and kicks Moriarty into the falls. This aids Sherlock in waking up (though he has to fall again).

And he’s back and ready for the case. Mycroft asks John to look after Sherlock and there’s a note in his book about “Redbeard;” that’s been popping up lately. Sherlock knows that Moriarty is dead and he knows what he’s going to do next. A tiny kicker with Victorian John and Sherlock discussing the future; Sherlock has always felt that he was a man out of time. And now we’re ready for Season Four!

Up Next: Season Four