IMDB Top 250 Review: #179: Twelve Monkeys (1995)

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For more reviews in my IMDB Top 250 series, click here.

What do I think of when people say the name Terry Gilliam? A man who is so full of good ideas, perhaps too many, that when revealed to others his imagination simply clogs his creations. Terry Gilliam  (Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) is an ex-pythoneer who has a knack for flights of fancy, or anything bizarre, surreal, insane, or deranged. 12 Monkeys (1995) is probably his most well known film, and his main one accountable for his financial success in directing. Typically his films haven’t done financially well at the box office, and usually go on to become cult hits. I didn’t know what to expect from 12 Monkeys, but i rarely do when it’s a Gilliam film. I’m still fairly undecided if I loved it, or hated it. 

James Cole (Bruce Willis) is a convict living in a dystopian world where society now lives underground, due to a mass viral outbreak that killed roughly 5 billion of the population, leaving a small 1 percent behind. James is a convict guilty of several counts of violence, and ill-behavior. As penance, a ruling board of 5 scientists send James back to the past in order to find out more about this outbreak. They send him to 1990, instead of 1996 as chaos ensues, and he is arrested for gibbering about the future which police officers interpret as madness. He is locked away for his insanity, as psychologist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) begins to feel sympathy for him.  James almost turns insane himself numbed by the intensity and quantity of drugs administered. He escapes the confines of the institution from the help of completely insane conspiracy nut Jeffrey Goins (Brad Pitt). James kidnaps the good doctor Railly, and takes her on a journey in order to alter the future he comes from.

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The ruling board of scientists.

The synopsis may seem messy, but it’s a very ‘busy’ film as you’d expect from Gilliam. Essentially it’s an apocalyptic future science-fiction drama, with elements of romance. James’ psyche is stretched between two worlds and we see his mind deteriorate as he attempts to identify what’s real and what isn’t, although seemingly all of it is. Conflicted by Railly’s words, and that of the scientists the whole thing is incredibly surreal. The goal to stop this ‘army of the twelve monkeys’ is a wild goose chase, and is based around the idea of the recollection of false memories, and how we our self alter our memories to the most logical or likely solution, though it can fool us. The state of dream is thought of in this way too. James has a recurring dream, which would turn out to be the closing moments of the film which he sees as a child (due to time travel) which he recollects differently each time. 

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While entertaining, and certainly original, Twelve Monkeys left me wanting. There’s just a bit too much going on, if it were more streamlined and the script were more solid I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Admittedly the performances went a long way in holding it together, particularly that of Willis, and Pitt. It’s an odd concoction of a film, artistic in it’s ideas and views, yet it plays out like an action film, with strong hints of romance? You could literally repackage the film again and again, in entirely different ways. For example: A psychologist falls in love with her patient who thinks he’s from the future, who sees himself die, only to dream about seeing himself die, incorrectly. Brad Pitt plays a maniac, while Bruce Willis thinks Brad Pitt will cause an apocalyptic plague, when in reality he just raids the zoo.

Bizarre, quirky and distinctly original. However original though, at points I found it rather tedious. I’d be surprised if this is exactly what Gilliam wanted it to be. Some elements certainly seem shoehorned in. I didn’t love Twelve Monkeys. But I was intrigued by it. At 179, it holds a solid, firm ranking. I’m tempted to say it deserves it’s place simply because there are films on the list that don’t bring anything new to the table, while this does. For now, I’ll stick with debatable.

Judgment – Debatable

Psst, this film is Mediocre, Snitch (2013)

Snitch (2013)Snitch (2013) is just another entry is a long line of films from this year that have failed to impress when it comes to mainstream releases. I chose to see it mainly to up my quota of films I’ve seen from this year as opposed to any other reason. It’s an american crime drama from Ric Roman Waugh (Felon, In the Shadows). It stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who’s been all over the place in leading roles recently. However, casting an actor like him as a lead, whilst trying to lure audiences in with the old catch-all ‘based on true events’ is a somewhat contradictory plan. That’s definitely who I’d choose in a cautionary drama about drugs and parenting, The Rock. Yep, nothing wrong with that choice. At all.

The film starts as Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) is told by his friend he’s sending another shipment of MDMA to his house, as he can’t fly with it, as he’s a drug dealer. In true cautionary fashion, Jason refuses, but Craig sends them anyway. The package arrives, as Jason accepts it, he opens the box to find the pills, with a tracking device underneath. The door is knocked down as agents from the DEA burst in and arrest Jason. Jason could be facing up to 10 years, as his friend Craig sold him out in order to reduce his sentence even though Jason was just a carrier, and had no intention to sell. Jason’s father John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) feels guilty for his son as he was never there for him after he left his mother. He plans to reduce his son’s sentence himself as he arranges a plan with Agent Cooper (Barry Pepper), after getting permission from local U.S attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon). With the help of one of his employees with 2 former convictions Daniel James (Joe Bernthal), John Matthews plans to go undercover headfirst into the seedy underworld of narcotics.

This is not the Wii U I ordered!

This is not the Wii U I ordered!

The concept was fine, but the message it clearly was trying to convey was bizarre. The film tries to bestow blame upon Jason even though he refused to Craig in the first place, though he didn’t listen. John cleaned up his son’s mess almost getting killed several times in the process. Daniel who was just trying to help his boss and protect his family, was forced out of his home and forced to go on the run, regardless of the fresh clean start he originally embarked on. While the film seemingly tries to be an indictment of the system that falsely imprisoned Jason, yet the same system was lenient enough to allow his father to intervene. Thus the film harbors an odd mish-mash of ideologies that don’t really glue. When there’s not much emotional context or ideological, you peel back the layers and you’re left with an okay action film, albeit slightly generic.

Susan. <3

Susan. ❤

Dwayne is vaguely okay as John Matthews, but the actor didn’t really matter, there wasn’t much to work with in terms of script. I see why you would want to attach The Rock to something as an attempt to feign star power, but when trying to make a touching story based on real events, a sensationalist actor like Dwayne from the dramatic land of Pro Wrestling no less seems vastly inappropriate. It just immediately eliminates any realism maintained in the very cliche script, and projects the qualities you expect from Dwayne’s movies. However Joe Bernthal (usually known as Shane from The Walking Dead) added some much needed drama into the film. Overall, I’d probably say give Snitch a miss. There’s nothing immediately bad, or unwatchable about it, it just struggled to maintain my attention and bring anything new or interesting to the table. Adios amigos, and follow me @Sams_Reel_Views.

Broken City (2013) Or more accurately, Broken Dialogue.

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Broken City is a crime/thriller film from director Allen Hughes, known for such work as From Hell, Menace 2 Society, and The Book of Eli. Broken City is a mess of a film, with an uncountable amount of failed logic, character inconsistencies, and quite frankly quite a dull plot. It does that typical Hollywood thing of kind of justifying the plot as a lot larger than it is, and it completely ignores human logic to quite a large degree. It stars Mark Wahlberg (YES MARKY MARRRRKKK), Russell Crowe, Barry Pepper, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Jeffrey Wright. The most of which are completely unremarkable except for Wahlberg (Could he ever be?) and the fairly unknown Jeffrey Wright. Written in 2008, the script floated in ‘Development Hell’ until Hughes became attached to the project, however I can certainly see why.

The story loosely involves Mark Wahlberg (can’t remember the character name) as a shamed former cop who is now a private detective. He is hired by the mayor of New York to investigate his wife who he suspects his cheating. The plot thickens to reveal that the detective was actually investigating his wife, in fear of her giving evidence to the other party, in order to make him lose the mayoral election. Eventually Mark and the mayor go down as a result of an elaborate I have evidence on you doing this, oh I have evidence of you doing this anti-climatic showdown. Not neatly put, but I don’t think it’s very easy to describe such a confused empty shell of a film.

I could delve more deeply into the crux of the story but quite frankly it’s Hollywood inspired waffle pretty much proved by it’s tagline ‘Proof can be a powerful weapon’. Proof of what?! that’s so ambiguous! Literally, that could mean ANYTHING. I mean I know taglines aren’t supposed to be specific, but that’s just absurd. ‘Proof’? Why not Evidence!? Or something like ‘Every man must answer to his convictions’ or something at least trying to emulate high drama. So why is Broken City bad? It boils down to these three points:

Mark Wahlberg in The Departed (2006). A far better film.

Mark Wahlberg in The Departed (2006). A far better film.

1) Dialogue. The dialogue is really bad. An odd mix of jokes, and small talk with characters trying to sound human, along side typical action genre dialogue written incredibly badly. In addition it doesn’t quite know how to convey emotion in any real way. For example when Mark Wahlberg (I’m not even going to look up the character name, that’s how little I care) had a drink and his girlfriend completely overreacted, broke up with him, then didn’t appear in the film again? Seriously, how is that catharsis? Or in anyway trying to convey real emotion?

Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000). Also a better film.

Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000). Also a better film.

2) Plot holes and logic knots. I won’t delve too deeply into this, because everything’s fairly objective and debatable. Character’s seem to have omniscience or something, as they already know what’s happened from a seemingly unknown source. In addition, why wasn’t Mark (Still sticking to call him by that) killed in the car when he passed out in the crash, when the guy stole the papers? You could argue this is because Russell Crowe (Evil Mayor) didn’t want to kill him, but if this is the case, why did he send an armed gunman into the house after him only 10 minutes later?  Why was Jeffrey Wright sleeping with Catherine Zeta-Jones in any way relevant? and here’s the clincher why is Jack Valliant in anyway a better mayoral candidate when he was perfectly willing to stoop to the same mud-fighting and sabotage as the mayor? He was just worse at it and was clearly unstable and they then compound that into a happy conclusion. 

3) The characters. The moods and emotions change and arc so quickly within the characters along with the constantly shifting plot completely prevents us from relating to our protagonist, or caring about the story in which he’s entangled at all. This is the biggest pitfall of modern cinema, making sure we can relate to the character, and that we emphasize with him, if not the villain alternatively. 

Broken City in three words is sloppy, unremarkable, and ambitious. The premise is far too complex for the very honest compliance of the three act structure, and fails to bring it to life. The dialogue needs to really decide what kind of writing it’s going for and stick to it as opposed to being really erratic. Other than that, write a more convincing villain. Oh he’s a politician you say? society must be full of villains? oh he hates women? oh he must really be something! that’s certainly an original conceit! Broken City was not worth my time, nor is it worth yours. Til next time folks, follow me @Sams_Reel_Views. 

Robocop (1987) Man or Machine?

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Robocop (1987) is widely considered one of the best films of that year by far, however who knows if the contemporary remake can stand up to this significant piece of 80’s culture. Dutch director Paul Verhoeven originally wanted nothing to do with Robocop as he discarded the script, calling it shallow and hollow as a premise. However, persuaded otherwise by his wife he began to realize Robocop actually has some interesting depictions and ideals within it. Why I mention that it because at an audience level Robocop could be seen as a fairly generic text, when it could be argued it has quite a lot to say about society, law, and the film culture of the 80’s.

Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is a cop, transferred to a rough district in Detroit as he begins to patrol with partner Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen). On their first patrol they encounter a bunch of wanted criminals but have no back-up. These streets are owned by Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). They trap the pair of police officers in an abandoned warehouse as they brutally slaughter Alex Murphy. The blood, and the sheer amount of violence was definitely quite unprecedented. Throughout there is frequent blood and gore throughout Robocop, because it characterizes the world they exist in as one that can only be tamed by excessive violence. It’s quite a powerful statement. In the end, is there really that much difference between Robocop and ED-209? They’re both machines just programmed to kill. Although while violent, I guess in the end the ideology is liberal in his reduction of this powerful corporate figure, and the ends do justify the means.

In ways it could be said Robocop takes a lot of inspiration from Terminator, and the Million Dollar Man from it's premise.

In ways it could be said Robocop takes a lot of inspiration from Terminator, and the Million Dollar Man from it’s premise.

Robocop’s story feels quite unique at its crux. I think it can be dissected down to a few basic elements. 1) The Revenge film. A protagonist is beaten almost to death, as the story builds up to him delivering justice, or alternatively his family has been killed and he tries to avenge them. Robocop  has elements of this cliche’d story in a fairly mild three act structure along with elements of metamorphosis. That basic premise of when a character changes for the worst and is afraid to face his friends an family as a result ala The Fly (1958) for example. What’s particularly odd is that we never see Robocop’s son or wife as a viewer I expected that to be an integral part of his revenge, realizing that he can never function as part of his family ever again.

The evil corporate executive, and the ED-209.

The evil corporate executive, and the ED-209.

Critically, when watching Robocop it can be said that the whole ‘robo’ part of it as actually highly irrelevant. It’s cool in some ways but ultimately it’s the story, the harsh gripping-plot, and truly detestable characters that drive Robocop forward. Robocop’s three laws can be seen as a basic reconfiguration of science fiction mastermind Isaac Azimov’s three laws of robotics.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

The idea of the three laws is a basic concept that robots would have a clear set of guidelines in order to prevent human casualty or endangerment. However, we must ponder how Robocop actually has the free will to actively decide to alter his logic systems in the first place? Are we just to assume it’s a hideous design fault by those trusty folks at OCP? Last thing I’d like to talk about is evil corporations. It’s a cliche scattered all over commercial cinema, but one that only really became popular to use in the last three decades or so. I find it bizarre how in western films consumerism is often the villain, yet it’s something we live by so actively in day to day life. In Robocop, the head of OCP, Richard Jones is technically more a villain than Boddicker, because he actually funds their whole operation while keeping them immune from any consequences. I’d assume it’s a part of 70’s revisionist culture alongside Watergate and Vietnam, in which society lost trust in basically anyone with any kind of executive power. That’s why Robocop is so interesting, strong liberalism themes in a police drama, corrupt consumerism and crime stopped by presumably millions of dollars of state of the art technology? Very oxymoronic.

Man? Or Machine?

Man? Or Machine?

Summary: Robocop is an important piece of culture, a venture between science fiction and the cop drama, showing that generic hybridity can enhance a film, not just weaken it. It has strong themes of ideology, but not in basic form, it’s very thought provoking and open to interpretation. It’s action sequences are unique, and the snappy one-liners are quite amusing. I don’t feel the sequel is a good idea, and i’m not entirely sure how the concept can be built upon as it was highly successful in the first place. Also I don’t really think the mix of brutality, and odd and strange ideas will work outside the context of the very transitional 80’s. We’ll have to wait until 2014 for that I suppose. Thanks for tuning in, and please Like/Comment/Follow, and Follow me on twitter @Sams_Reel_Views. Cheers.

Black Dynamite (2009) or ‘Fiendish Dr.Wu, You dun fucked up now!’

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Black Dynamite (2009) is a comedy, blaxploitation, martial arts film paying deep homage to the blaxpoitation films of old, with deep use of satire, reference, and sharp-witted humor. The film stars Michael Jai White, and now has a spin-off animation show animated by the same studio as The Boondocks, and is quite a big part of Adult Swim’s current U.S line-up, or so I’ve read. I hadn’t really heard anything about the film before I decided to give it a go, aside from the animated Tv Show.

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Black Dynamite has a very loose story structure, doesn’t exactly have a main goal or purpose. Mainly our protagonist Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) being a hero in various ways, freeing orphans from the addictions of smack, fighting gang-wars while establishing himself as alpha male, and most importantly leading a team of highly honed warriors onto Kung-Fu Island in which they slay the vicious Fiendish Dr.Wu. The masterplan unravels to reveal a malt liquor that the government has been pushing has a deadly chemical that shrinks the male anatomy, behind this masterplan, none other than, RICHARD NIXON! (GASP!) So primarily it’s just 2 hours of Black Dynamite fighting ‘The Man’ in numerous ways, which is absurdly hilarious. Oh, and there’s a revenge plot involving his dead brother (How did I forget this?) The film ends after he defeats Nixon in a kung-fu battle, as he produces an epilogue about his conquering of the white house, and how he will lead his people to justice.

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Black Dynamite is a film of incredible style and substance, it’s filmed in Super 18 giving it a really retro feel, and the dialogue is hilarious. The way it combines action and gunplay along with martial arts is superb, whilst maintaining that shaft blaxploitation style. Michael Jai White definitely pulls his weight as Black Dynamite, and the whole cast was fine. An excerpt I loved particularly:

Bullhorn: Oh, you’s a corn-fed fool with a lot of muscle mass. But it’s time for Bullhorn to get up in that ass!

[Bullhorn proceeds to land a chop on the thug, which is blocked. He then punches the thug in the midsection. He blocks a punch and slaps the thug in the face]

Thug #1: Motherfucker!

[Scene cuts to a retake of the fight scene, only with the thug replaced with a stunt double. Bullhorn punches the thug in the face before landing multiple punches to the chest and a kick to the face]

Bullhorn: Let everybody know and suckers be warned that this is the outcome when you mess with Bullhorn!

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Verdict = Sensational 8/10. Elaboration: I didn’t entirely expect a lot from a film that was immediately made into a cartoon series after it’s release. While entirely not a lot analyze as it’s a comedic parody, Black Dynamite oozes style and substance, with a slick, clean surface. Filmed in Super 18 it has a beautiful grit to the image, with a fantastic script, premise, and surprisingly good action scenes. Everyone should probably give Black Dynamite a whirl, you’ll be surprised. Until next time I’ll leave you with a trailer and suggest you Follow/Comment/Like if you like what you’ve seen, and follow me @Sams_Reel_Views. Cheers!

– Sam.

Star Trek – Into Darkness (2013)

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Hello there, another big contemporary release as we look at Star Trek – Into Darkness (Why is it called this?), Directed by J.J Abrams. For those unaware, it’s the second in the series, following the events of the first film Star Trek (2009). I initially liked the first installment, but it wasn’t until seeing this one yesterday, that I sat down and couldn’t really remember it at all. That’s probably not a good sign. However, I was mainly hyped for this because of Benedict Cumberbatch and seeing him play a villain, although I was unaware he turned out to be ‘THE’ villain.

Spock among the flames.

Spock among the flames.

Before you read anyfurther SPOILERS, Etc: The narrative begins with Dr.McCoy (Karl Urban) and Admiral James T.Kirk (Chris Pine) on an alien planet being casually hunted by the savage locals. They escape in a knick of time, and detonate some kind of solidifying bomb invented to prevent a volcanic explosion on the humble planet. Spock (Zachary Quinto) almost dies, but they save him from the magma. Later on, Kirk and Spock are demoted for revealing themselves to the alien locals in order to save them. We cut to a poor girl who is dying, and a federation worker who is her father, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) appears and says he can save her if the man does him a favour. The worker obliges, and drops a ring into a glass of water in Federation HQ which causes a massive explosion as John Harrison roots around in the archive files. During council, John Harrison attacks the federation headquarters, and Admiral Christopher Pike dies (Bruce Greenwood) along with several others.

The corrupt Admiral Marcus.

The corrupt Admiral Marcus.

This is the narrative trigger in Star Trek – Into Darkness, as Kirk, and commanding admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) decide they must do something about this, as Weller gives kirk 72 ‘Special’ photon missiles to threaten the fleeing John Harrison with. They go to Kronos, the Klingon homeworld, where after a small skirmish Harrison surrenders. He reveals him self as Khan! (KAAAAAAHN!) Deception happens, Khan betrays the starfleet twice, Admiral Marcus is also evil, as Kirk must find a way to save his crew whilst Spock seeks revenge for Kirk’s seemingly abrupt death at the hands of Khan, as he finally confronts his emotions and truly accepts Kirk as his friend.

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So, for a typical blockbuster sequel, there’s a lot going on in Star Trek. It actually has a narrative with twists, turns, plot development. It quite surprised me. Well first of all, the aesthetics, the sound, anything audio-visual in Star Trek is fantastic to a tee, it really captures and enhances the mood of Star Trek: Into Darkness perfectly. Use of environments were interesting, we definitely saw more environments than we did in Star Trek (2009), and the primitive Jungle/Volcano world at the beginning was fantastic to see, and beautifully designed. However, I think the main departure from these two films, in comparison to the old ones are the willingness to actually explore other worlds (Which is kind of the point). Both films have basically climaxed with a ship invasion, with some mild gunplay, with Kirk and pals inevitably capturing the enemy ship or so, and then they’ll be a space-chase. We saw a glimpse of the Klingon menace but they weren’t to stick around, clearly saving it for the third sequel.

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Benedict Cumberbatch was unsurprisingly, the best thing about the film. He’s a fantastic character actor, as he really sold the show as Khan, especially with a decent script to recapture the old Khan, with the mirroring between him and Kirk as ironically similar characters just trying to save their crews. This is doubly so with secondary antagonist Peter Weller building Khan up as this evil archetype, even though ultimately Khan had done nothing wrong, and he had awoken the sleeping giant himself. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) was pretty phoned in, and wasn’t developed in anyway, minor characters Bones (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) certainly made the ensemble feel valid, as if it wasn’t mostly Chris Pine busting his ass off doing the world’s best Shatner impression. The film has some minor plot twists, most of them predictable. As for Sci-fi elements, the gun-play and mid-traffic fight scenes were a delightful spectacle to watch, however the old OH NO WE’VE BEEN HIT ONCE AND NOW THE SHIP IS DYING cliche’ was a bit below what I expected.

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Verdict = Solid 7.8/10. A solid second installment into the Star Trek trilogy, paying homage to old plots and characters, while embedding twists that keep it fresh and mildly interesting. The action, aesthetics, and audio qualities were all superb and couldn’t have been better. The script was fine, but definitely burrowed a lot from old cliches. In many ways I would have liked to have seem more of the Star Trek universe, and different civilizations, as a lot of it became stuck on the ship once again, which I do admit is part of Star Trek but to what degree? The performances were fine, with Benedict really stealing the show as you’d expect. It’s certainly not a must see film, but it’s a very solid installment that’s at least as good as the first reboot, or in my opinion a fair amount better.

From Russia With Love (1963) – Bond Collection Part 2!

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Just a brief foreword: Really glad to be back here, been doing assignments and such, all finished now! Will be firing these out soon enough, getting on with lots of in-depth series, and will be releasing a little case study piece I’ve worked a lot on recently. Anyway, glad to be back, and thanks for tuning in, and sorry for the hiatus. Let’s continue!

Use of a chess tournament to develop a Villain as maniacal is something you wouldn't think would work, but it really does, to an absurd level.

Use of a chess tournament to develop a Villain as maniacal is something you wouldn’t think would work, but it really does, to an absurd level.

Film number 2 in the bond collection, as I watch From Russia With Love (1963) once again directed by Terence Young. I saw From Russia With Love a few months before buying the collection, but I watched it again, to revisit the finer details. So, just as a foreword, gunna plough through all of these at some point, balancing with more modern films, and the Woody Allen analysis, with some form of ranking as to my favorite bond film so far at the end of each one. So, for some context, the book was only released six years before the film, and was still quite fresh, which shows that it wasn’t necessary the obligatory adaptation of a bestseller we see today, as opposed to the beginning of a formula that worked, as Dr.No (1962) had quite positive respond regardless of it’s low budgets, and arguable flaws and relatively unknown cast.

Yes, that is a periscope.

Yes, that is a periscope.

The story line revolves around SPECTRE, as we see one of the first, and very brief appearances of Blofeld in the series, in which he puts General Klobb up to the task of killing James Bond (Sean Connery) for foiling the plan in Dr.No. Klobb fools  incredibly attractive Russian girl Tatania Romanova (Daniela Binachi) into seducing Bond, as she sends a letter to the British embassy claiming that she is a clerk for the Russian embassy, and has fallen in love with James Bond via a picture she saw on file. Thus, she is willing to give them the ever so valuable LECTOR decoder the embassy has been wanting if James comes to pick up her and the device. Thus Bond goes, and succeeds in traditional fashion, surviving his encounter with deadly agent Grant, a helicopter, several boats, and an attack from the desperate General Klobb herself.

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One thing From Russia with Love did incredibly well, was Bond’s support characters, Ali Karim Bey (Pedro Armendariz) and Titania really add some depth, and change the kind of dialogue and chemistry we see from Bond. Ali Karim is an elderly Turkish gent and hotel owner who lives in Istanbul, who essentially is a mentor figure to Bond, as he guides him through various pitfalls and helps him with this investigation. It’s quite an unusual relationship for Bond, and is actually quite refreshing as an idea, and his tragic death is certainly near to tear-jerking when we see him die on the train at the hands of the maniacal agent Grant. Titania isn’t the best character, she’s awfully cliche, incredibly predictable, and quite frankly the acting is pretty appalling. However, the eye candy primarily does her job and serves as bait, and another chip on the table as Bond attempts to escape Istanbul alive. On an off note, I found my self addicted to this track from the score:

One real gem in From Russia with Love is Donald ‘Red’ Grant, or Agent Grant (Robert Shaw). He exists as the essential counter-part for Bond, a highly trained agent, like Bond only more ruthless and ultimately more of an assassin as him, although that’s the role Bond often serves himself. Their encounter and final battle is built up to expertly, having Grant trace him through the story, saving Bond on many occasions just so he can have the kill himself. The opening sequence even foreshadows the event by having Grant in a training exercise hunting someone down with a mask of Bond over their face. I think what made the battle it’s self so good is the fact that, ultimately Grant had Bond dead to rights, and could have pulled the trigger on many occasions, and it was ultimately greed that killed him. Grant is my favourite Bond villain of all the ones i’ve seen, no ridiculous gimmick, motive, or otherwise, just an agent matched to Bond’s skillset, one arguably better than him. Another minor thing From Russia With Love did expertly is it’s use of gadgets. Gadgets are often a small element in spy films, especially Bond and the later ones certainly let the idea get out of hand, and Dr.No didn’t really have any involved, on this mission Bond has…a briefcase. Oh, just a briefcase you say? Oh not just a briefcase. Inside is a secret tab, containing fifty gold bouillon, the tabs of the case must be turned a particular away, otherwise tear gas will erupt from inside, from a seemingly innocuous bottle of talcum powder. My personal favorite, a detachable handle that is actually a knife. Here’s my favorite scene from From Russia With Love, the incredibly visceral fight scene between Bond and Grant.

In summary, From Russia With Love is one of my favorite Bond films, one a fan of any installment of series should seriously watch, it’s fantastic even by regular films standards. Anyway, give it a watch, it’s superb, and please Follow/Comment/Like if you like what you saw. Join me tomorrow as I watch Interiors, the next Woody Allen film in the chronology. Also, Follow me on Twitter @Sams_Reel_Views. Cheers!

The incredibly seductive, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Binachi)

The incredibly seductive, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Binachi)

– Sam.