Casino Royale dir. Martin Campbell (2006) Standard Bond fare except that the villain triumphs and 007 needs rescuing. The film then reboots with a happy-end romance so unbelievable that it is redeemed only by turning out to be fake… whereupon a second plot twist makes it real again.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, 1963); audiobook read by David Tennant (AudioGO, 2012) Bond’s attitude to women remains unconscionable, but in other respects Fleming gives him a greater depth and vulnerability here than in other books (and certainly the films). The writing has refinement above its genre, and gains added respectability through David Tennant’s reading.…
Spectre dir. Sam Mendes (2015) The Bond franchise is like Microsoft Windows: each release throws more money into superficially refurbishing the same product; both pride themselves in staging elaborate crashes; and if ever a good one comes along (Casino Royale) its positive features are immediately discarded. #NothingSpectral
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. dir. Guy Ritchie (2015) Over-stylised, over-scored, under-scripted and sometimes under the pacing-geist of its 1960s forerunner, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. nevertheless compares favourably to many of the Bond films: less action, less slick, a less charismatic lead (Henry Cavill), yet buoyed by some truly uproarious sequences.
Kingsman: The Secret Service dir. Matthew Vaughn (2015) Riffs on George S. Clinton’s Dr Evil theme and a darkly comedic in-church human pile-up underscore that Kingsman is Bond meets Tarantino, only uncrippled by self-importance. It’s a Boys’ Own wet dream, manna for those who liked to explode all their lemmings.