Warning: there are some plot spoilers, but nothing really big, and certainly nothing that gives the plot away (as you’ll understand if you read on)
I was in Derbyshire with the parents of my daughter in law – we wondered if there was a term for this relationship; the outlaws, perhaps? – and saw the latest Bond film at their cozy local screen, all push velvet and bring your own wine (I had coffee).
As people have noted it’s long – 2 hours 45 minutes – which, when you add on the interminable ads etc at the start takes you into the realms of wanting a meal break. Or a comfort break in my case. Am I getting so old that I now fidget for the last 20 minutes wondering if I’ll have to be ‘that old git’ who excuses me’s his way down the row, just when missing even a second might render the denouement moot? Suffice it to say, that walk of shame was avoided this time.
The plot. Now there’s a talking point. Bond starts with an action sequence. Always. This one, around some Italian ancient, was so far so typical, though they threw in some mumbled love interest and an exploding sarcophagus for good measure. It was well done, if a touch cliched. Then we have five years later and Bond’s living his version of a sybaritic life on some Caribbean atoll, ostensibly retired and out of the ‘game’.
Now, let’s just consider what we understand by a Bond movie. Crash, bang, wallop, sanitized but regular violence, gadgetry, petrol-head cars, glamour, men in suits and women in not much… What we don’t want is some long, dry plot exposition, lots of philosophizing and talking heads. But here’s the thing: there’s a balance between keeping the story moving onto the next set piece whizz-bangery – Cuba in this case; or was it a London tower block? – and explaining why X is doing Y to Z. Or WTF has tweaked Bond’s tail that suddenly he’s no longer retired? I concentrated, really I did but somewhere between M’s office, Miss Moneypenny and Bond crashing Qs flat and a weird Orwellian scene involving Blofeld, I missed something.
And here’s a second thing; it really doesn’t matter because you know they’ll be: a baddy intent on world domination/making egregious amounts of money/an ends justifying means despot; a love interest; several chases and fights where Bond takes a pummeling yet gets out of bed the next day; and a sooper-dooper ending with everything on the line. Plot, schmlot… who cares.
There is some humour which we are told is the result of Phoebe Waller-Bridge helping with a rewrite – I can’t say I noticed her hand much which may be a good thing. The female American agent who helps Bond out of his sticky hole in Cuba must have been covered in the most extraordinary body-glue because there really is no other way to explain how she fought as she did and yet stayed inside the two pelmets of fabric that made up her evening gown. And the ending…
We had been sort of warned; we were waiting in the bar area when the customers from the previous showing filed out. We’d joked we’d need to cover our ears to avoid plot spoilers. Then we saw their faces: blank, expressionless; stunned; quiet. Then we saw the ending. We understood.
You really need to see it to understand. It’s, erm, well unexpected. Worth it for that? Yes, probably.