Review


During an orchestrated drug bust at a marine loading dock, Detective Stan Zedkov (Michael Rooker) kills Triad lieutenant Peter Wei (Yau-Gene Chan). Looking to exact revenge for his son’s death, crime boss Terence Wei (Kenneth Tsang), sends for professional assassin John Lee (Chow Yun-fat). Paying off on an old debt, Lee has already killed two targets for Wei, and the crime boss tells him that this third and final job will wipe out the remainder of his obligation. However, Lee’s conscience prevents him from completing his final assignment: to murder Zedkov’s seven year-old son Stevie (Andrew J. Marton) before the detective’s eyes. Realizing that his actions will result in retaliation against his mother and sister, Lee prepares to return to China, enlisting the help of old friend Alan Chan, a monk in a local Buddhist temple, to make arrangements to have his family moved to a secure location. Infuriated by Lee’s disobedience, Wei orders his men to hunt for him and has his men in China begin the search for Lee’s family. Wei also hires replacement killers, Ryker (Til Schweiger) and Collins (Danny Trejo), to finish the original job of killing Zedkov’s son. No longer able to use the Triad network to get out of the country, Lee searches for alternative means outside Wei’s sphere of influence, and meets with skilled forger Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino) to have her create a new passport for him. Before she can finish the job, Wei’s men storm her apartment, destroying the computerized tools of her trade in the ensuing shootout. Having been made aware that the Triads are involved, Coburn wants out, but Lee forces her to finish her original task of creating a forged passport. Getting pictures from a photo booth, Lee phones Alan, who offers the use of his passport. When Lee arrives at the temple, he discovers that Alan has been tortured to the point of death. Alan tells Lee that his family was moved to Canton-but he told his torturers they were in Shanghai. Lee has little more than 24 hours before his family is found. The monk gives Lee his passport before dying in his arms. Lee needs to stop the replacement killers and Wei from extracting revenge on his family…

During production, Columbia Pictures felt that Antoine Fuqua was struggling to deliver suitable material and ordered a studio exec to be present during most of the filming to ensure that their money was being well spent. This angered Fuqua and made things tense between him and Columbia. ‘Debra Hill’ (II), a veteran producer, was called in by Columbia to cool things down. Lead actor Yun-Fat Chow stood by Fuqua the whole time and told the producers to trust him and his vision. The troubles didn’t end after the production wrapped. When Fuqua delivered his initial cut, Columbia began testing the film. Test audiences struggled with the notion of a less than pure hero and the bi-racial relationship between Yun-Fat Chow and Mira Sorvino. They also had issues with most of the other characters back stories, so Columbia called in action editor ‘Richard Francis Bruce’ to tighten up the film. All romantic elements between Yun-Fat and Sorvino were removed, along with most of the characters’ motivations. The movie set the record for the most bullets fired in an American film. Mira Sorvino speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. Yun-Fat Chow is a Cantonese Chinese native speaker but can also speak some Mandarin. Sorvino was able to help translate for Chow who was just learning English at the time. In The San Francisco Examiner, Walter Addiego perceived that the film “remains a counterfeit of a Woo movie, even though Woo himself co-produced it. He turned the directing chores over to first-timer Antoine Fuqua, whose previous work was limited to music videos and commercials, and it shows.” He added, “The script, by Ken Sanzel, is the work of someone who’s seen Woo’s movies and wasn’t particularly moved by the experience.”

I saw “The Replacement Killers” when it came out in 1998 and from what I can remember I thought it was an intense action flick with Hong Kong references. Today I see a cartoony b-action movie with stereotypical characters in all sorts of ways, a fetishism of firearms, not that convincing acting and a bit too heavy trigger finger. I reckon what was hot then, action á la John Woo (swooping slow motion scenes, extreme gun action etc), feels really outdated now. Yun-Fat Chow´s John Lee is just quite uninteresting and Mira Sorvino´s Meg is not really balancing things out despite a hard action facade. It really bugged me that she was walking around with an open shirt in the end flashing her bra. Made no sense, except the fact that Fuqua wanted to show some nude skin I reckon. Nah, this was actually a disappointment to see again. (2 and a half out of 5)

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In 1986 MI6 officers James Bond (Pierce Brosnan), agent 007 – and Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), agent 006 infiltrate an illicit Soviet chemical weapons facility at Arkhangelsk and plant explosive charges. Trevelyan is apparently shot and killed by Colonel Arkady Ourumov, but Bond steals an aeroplane and flees from the facility as it explodes. Nine years later Bond arrives in Monte Carlo to follow Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), a suspected member of the Janus crime syndicate, who has formed a suspicious relationship with a Royal Canadian Navy admiral. She murders the admiral to allow Janus to steal his identity. The next day they steal a prototype Eurocopter Tiger helicopter that can withstand an electromagnetic pulse. They fly it to a bunker in Severnaya, where they massacre the staff and steal the control disk for the dual GoldenEye satellite weapons. They program one of the GoldenEye satellites to destroy the complex with an electromagnetic pulse, and escape with programmer Boris Grishenko. Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), the lone survivor, contacts Boris and arranges to meet him in St. Petersburg, where he betrays her to Janus. In London, M (Judi Dench) assigns Bond to investigate the attack. Bond flies to St. Petersburg to meet CIA officer Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker). He suggests Bond meet Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), a Russian Mafia head and business rival of Janus. After Bond gives him a tip on a potential heist, Zukovsky arranges a meeting between Bond and Janus. Onatopp is sent to meet Bond at his hotel and attempts to kill him, but he overpowers her and she takes him to Janus. Bond meets Janus who reveals himself as Alec Trevelyan, who had faked his death but was badly scarred from the explosion at Arkhangelsk. A descendant of the Cossack clans who collaborated with the Nazi forces in World War II, Trevelyan had vowed revenge against Britain for their involvement in his parents’ deaths. Just as Bond is about to shoot Trevelyan, Bond is shot with a tranquiliser dart, knocking him out. Bond awakens tied up with Simonova in the Tiger helicopter programmed to self-destruct, from which the two escape. They are immediately arrested by the Russian police and are brought to the military archives, where the Russian Minister of Defence Dimitri Mishkin interrogates them. As Simonova reveals the existence of a second satellite and Ourumov’s involvement in the massacre at Severnaya, Ourumov bursts into the room and kills Mishkin. As Ourumov calls for his guards, Bond escapes into the archives with Simonova, where a firefight ensues. Simonova is captured and is dragged into a car by Ourumov. Bond steals a T-55 tank and pursues Ourumov through St. Petersburg to Janus’ armoured train, where he kills Ourumov as Trevelyan escapes and locks Bond in the train with Simonova. As the train’s self-destruct countdown begins, Bond cuts through the floor with his laser watch while Simonova locates Grishenko’s satellite dish in Cuba. The two escape just before the train explodes. Bond and Simonova, now lovers, meet Jack Wade and trade Bond’s car for Wade’s aeroplane. While flying over a Cuban jungle in search of the satellite dish controlling the satellite, Bond and Simonova are shot down. As they stumble out of the wreckage, Onatopp rappels down from a helicopter and attacks Bond. After a struggle, Bond shoots down the helicopter, which snares Onatopp and crushes her to death. Bond and Simonova then watch a lake being drained of water, uncovering the satellite dish. They infiltrate the control station, where Bond is captured. Trevelyan reveals his plan to rob the Bank of England before erasing all of its financial records with the remaining GoldenEye, concealing the theft and destroying Britain’s economy. Will 007 be able to save the world from this disaster?

At the time the script was being written the producers were under the assumption that Timothy Dalton would be renewing the role of Bond. It was written to match Dalton’s darker, more realistic portrayal of 007. “Goldeneye” is actually the nickname of Bond creator Ian Fleming’s beachfront house in Jamaica where, between 1952 and 1964, he wrote the Bond novels and short stories. It was named for the contingency plan that the SIS, whose members included Fleming himself, devised in the event of a Nazi invasion of Spain. The new arrangement of the Bond theme used in the opening was disliked by many fans and was replaced by a more traditional version in future films. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4, and said Brosnan’s Bond was “somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete” than the previous ones, also commenting on Bond’s “loss of innocence” since previous films. Several reviewers lauded M’s appraisal of Bond as a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur”, with Todd McCarthy in Variety saying GoldenEye “breathes fresh creative and commercial life” into the series. John Puccio of DVD Town said that GoldenEye was “an eye and ear-pleasing, action-packed entry in the Bond series” and that the film gave Bond “a bit of humanity, too”. Ian Nathan of Empire said that GoldenEye “revamps that indomitable British spirit” and that the Die Hard movies “don’t even come close to 007”. Tom Sonne of the Sunday Times considered GoldenEye the best Bond film since The Spy Who Loved Me. Jose Arroyo of Sight & Sound considered the greatest success of the film was in modernising the series. However, the film received several negative reviews. Richard Schickel of Time wrote that after “a third of a century’s hard use”, Bond’s conventions survived on “wobbly knees”, while in Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman thought the series had “entered a near-terminal state of exhaustion.” David Eimer of Premiere wrote that “the trademark humour is in short supply” and that “Goldeneye isn’t classic Bond by any stretch of the imagination.”

I remember not being all that impressed when “GoldenEye” came out, and not being too happy about Pierce Brosnan taking over as Bond. I still agree with the fact that “GoldenEye” is mediocre in terms of the plot, way too much cold war memorabilia in the storyline if you ask me as this came out in 1995. I think that a rogue british agent as the main bad guy is not that satisfying either (but we did get to see that in “Skyfall” again, however Javier Bardem was a bit better than Sean Bean). The action is ok, but the stunts a bit way over the top at times, the “catching the plane midair without a parachute” was just too ridiculous in my eyes. Pierce Brosnan is not bad as Bond (as I thought then), but he is still a bit too stiff as Bond to really convince me. Famke Janssen´s Xenia Onatopp is just overbearing with such a ridiculous name. The lovely and beautiful swedish/polish Izabella Scorupco was a treat to see, even is she´s not fully convincing as a russian. All in all, “GoldenEye” is tops a 3 out of 5. Nothing more, nothing less. (3 out of 5)

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Washed up former race driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) arrives home to find his house ransacked and his wife, Leanne, missing. Suddenly, his phone rings. On the other end is a mysterious man known only as The Voice (Jon Voight) who reveals himself as the kidnapper of Magna’s wife. The man tells Magna that he must follow a set of instructions precisely in order to be reunited with his wife. The Voice orders Magna to steal a specially customised Shelby Mustang from a parking garage. The Voice warns Magna that if he does not follow the instructions or is caught, Leanne will die. Magna sees two police officers chasing him and speeds off. Being a skilled driver, he is able to evade them with ease, eventually setting a trap to cause one to crash into the other. Despite more police cars joining the pursuit, Magna is able to out maneuver them. Some time later, Magna is again contacted by The Voice, who directs him towards his first task. He tells Magna to speed up and take some perilous turns, eventually being forced to crash through a park, ice rink, and shopping center, nearly killing numerous civilians in the process. The Voice calls to congratulate him and tells him to keep moving. Magna is ordered to crash into a water truck and run through a red lighted intersection, causing accidents in his wake. Magna is then ordered to park in a construction zone and await further instructions. While Magna is waiting, a young woman known only as The Kid (Selena Gomez) attempts to steal Magna’s car. The Voice calls and orders Magna to kill The Kid. Magna refuses, and The Voice says that keeping her alive was the right choice, as he will need her help. As Magna and The Kid drive off, with more police in pursuit, she reveals that the Mustang is, in fact, her car, and that she was told, by a police officer, it was stolen. Magna realizes that their meeting was orchestrated by The Voice. After the Voice assigns Magna another destructive task, The Kid reveals herself as a skilled computer hacker and the daughter of the C.E.O of a large bank. The Voice contacts Magna again and orders him to upload the contents of a USB flash drive into a computer before 11:30 pm. Upon reaching the designated area, a power plant, The Kid attempts to hack the computer in order to contact the police. She appears to have succeeded, only for The Voice to cut her off, revealing that he set up the computer as a trap for her. The plant suddenly overloads and explodes, destroying itself and blacking out a large portion of the city. The Voice gives Magna his final task: to rob the bank owned by The Kid’s father. The Kid points out that there is no actual money at her father’s bank; it is an investment firm which holds all of its assets on computers. Gradually, the duo realizes that they are not actually committing a heist, but are merely providing a distraction for the police while The Voice executes the real robbery and subsequently frames them for it…

There is no CGI in any of the car crash scenes. All the crashes in the movie are real. 130 cars were wrecked in the making of this movie. The production had its own junkyard on set to store the wreckage. The Shelby Super Snake Mustang is such a rare car, that Shelby had to make cars especially for this production. To catch all the breakneck action from both inside and outside the Shelby Super Snake the director used a variety of cameras, numbering anywhere from 18 to 42, in any given scene. The cameras ranged in size and format, including state of the art digital RED Epics. “Getaway” was panned by film critics and was considered to be the worst film of 2013. The critical consensus states: “Monotonously fast-paced to the point of exhaustion, Getaway offers a reminder of the dangers in attempting to speed past coherent editing, character development, sensible dialogue, and an interesting plot”. The film won the Moldy Tomato award for the worst-reviewed film of 2013, and is one of the worst ever reviewed films on the site. IGN said “Not even the gruffly likable Ethan Hawke can make the murky, messy car chase movie Getaway worthwhile thanks to its inane script and poorly conceived action sequences”. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called it a “brainless chase flick that doesn’t even offer guilty pleasures.” Ethan Hawke doesn´t carry the part (despite some driving skills) and the always cute Selena Gomez looks lost together with Jon Voight. The plot has so many holes and the whole movie is just a poor excuse for making an epileptic crazy car crash movie that makes no sense. (1 and a half out of 5)

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DEA agents collect James Bond (Timothy Dalton)- MI6 agent 007-and his friend, now DEA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison), on their way to Leiter’s wedding in Key West, to have them assist in capturing drugs lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). Bond and Leiter capture Sanchez by attaching a hook and cord to Sanchez’s plane in flight near The Bahamas and pulling it out of the air with a Coast Guard helicopter. Afterwards, Bond and Leiter parachute down to the church in time for the ceremony. Sanchez bribes DEA agent Ed Killifer and escapes on his way to prison. Meanwhile, Sanchez’s henchman Dario (Benicio del Toro) and his crew ambush Leiter and his wife Della. Leiter is maimed by a great white shark and Della is raped and killed. When Bond learns Sanchez has escaped, he returns to Leiter’s house to find Della dead and Felix alive, but seriously wounded; Bond swears revenge on Sanchez. As the DEA refuses to help because Sanchez is out of its jurisdiction, Bond, with Leiter’s friend Sharkey, start their own investigation into what happened to their friend. The pair discover a marine research centre run by Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe), one of Sanchez’s henchmen, where Sanchez has hidden cocaine and a submarine for smuggling. After Bond kills Killifer by pushing him into the tank at the centre with the shark that maimed Leiter, M meets Bond in Key West’s Hemingway House and orders him to an assignment in Istanbul, Turkey. Bond resigns after turning down the assignment, but M suspends Bond instead and immediately revokes his licence to kill. Bond flees from MI6 custody and becomes a rogue agent, bereft of official backing but later surreptitiously helped by MI6 armourer Q. Bond boards the Wavekrest-a ship run by Milton Krest-and foils Sanchez’s latest drug shipment, stealing five million dollars in the process, but discovers that Sharkey had been killed by Sanchez’s henchmen. Bond recruits Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), an ex-CIA agent and pilot whom he rescues from Dario at a Bimini bar, and journeys with her to the Republic of Isthmus. In Isthmus City, Bond is met by Q. He finds his way into Sanchez’s employment by posing as an assassin looking for work. Two Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau officers foil Bond’s attempt to assassinate Sanchez and take him to an abandoned warehouse. They are joined by Fallon, an MI6 agent who was sent by M to apprehend Bond, dead or alive. Bond is about to be sedated via injection and sent back to the United Kingdom in disgrace when Sanchez’s men rescue him and kill the officers, believing them to be the assassins. Later, with the aid of Bouvier, Q, and Sanchez’s girlfriend Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), Bond frames Krest by placing the $5 million he had stolen into the hyperbaric chamber on board the Wavekrest. An infuriated Sanchez then traps Krest in the chamber and decompresses the pressurised chamber with an axe, explosively killing him. Meanwhile, Sanchez admits Bond into his inner circle. Will Bond be able to keep his identity secret, or will Sanchez see Bond’s true intentions?

Released in the summer of 1989, “Licence To Kill” suffered in competition from a welter of big box office blockbusters, including Batman (1989), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), The Abyss (1989), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) and Ghostbusters II (1989). Ever since, all Bond films have been released in either fall or winter. In August 1990, after the box office failure of this film in the United States, Director ‘John Glen (II)’ left EON Productions. Thirteen-time Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum died on 4 January 1991. Some called this a “bloodless coup”. Legal wrangling over the ownership of the James Bond character, coupled by these departures, delayed the release of the next film. In the interim, producer Albert R. Broccoli retired, and star Timothy Dalton decided not to play the role a third time. The project was originally entitled “Licence Revoked” and teaser artwork was produced with this title. Among the reasons for changing the title was to avoid confusion with the 1981 James Bond novel, “Licence Renewed,” written by John Gardner (who ended up writing a novel based on this film as well). Licence Renwed means the exact opposite of Licence Revoked. Another reason for the change was that “license revoked” denotes losing one’s driving privileges in the USA. Taglines for “Licenced Revoked” included “You’re looking at the world’s most wanted man” and “Dismissed. Disgraced. Dishonored. Deadly.” In the movie, when M says to James Bond, “Your Licence to kill is revoked”, both titles are referenced at the same time. After a minor controversy as to whether the British or American spelling (“licence” or “license”) would be used in the title, the British spelling won out. Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 1/2 stars out of 4, saying “the stunts all look convincing, and the effect of the closing sequence is exhilarating … Licence to Kill is one of the best of the recent Bonds.” Jack Kroll, writing in Newsweek described Licence to Kill as “a pure, rousingly entertaining action movie”. Kroll was mixed in his appraisal of Dalton, calling him “a fine actor who hasn’t yet stamped Bond with his own personality”, observing “Director John Glen is the Busby Berkeley of action flicks, and his chorus line is the legendary team of Bond stunt-persons who are at their death-defying best here”. For Time magazine, Richard Corliss bemoaned that although the truck stunts were good, it was “a pity nobody – not writers Michael G. Wilson, and Richard Maibaum nor director John Glen – thought to give the humans anything very clever to do.” Corliss found Dalton “misused” in the film, adding that “for every plausible reason, he looks as bored in his second Bond film as Sean Connery did in his sixth.”

This was Timothy Dalton´s second Bond (and final) outing, and in my eyes a hell of a lot better than his previous one, the really poor “The Living Daylights”. Bond is a bit more serious and a bit more brutal in “Licence To Kill” and it seems to fit Dalton better. He seems more at ease as Bond this time around, even if he´s not as convincing as Sean Connery was in the beginning of his Bond career. I love the opening sequence, catching Sanchez on their way to Leiter´s wedding and then actually parachuting to the church. Dalton is ok as Bond. Davi and del Toro makes good bad guys. Carey Lowell is a stunner in her short hair and lovely approach, while the equally beautiful Talisa Soto has that bad girl twinkle in her dark eyes. I reckon with the brutal revenge theme, Bond´s revoked licence to kill and the war on drugs we do get a “different” Bond story here, but not a bad Bond story in my eyes. Yes, the stunts and action sequences might be a bit over the top, then again it´s a Bond movie. (3 out of 5)

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Colin (Romain Duris)has a very pleasant life: he is rich, he loves the food his cook Nicolas (Omar Sy) makes, he loves his pianocktail and his friend Chick (Gad Elmaleh). One day while having lunch with Chick, Chick tells him that he met a girl named Alise (Aïssa Maïga) with whom he has a common passion: the writer Jean-Sol Partre. Colin meets then Chloe (Audrey Tautou) at a party Chick invited him to. They fall in love, marry, but Chloe becomes ill during their honeymoon. As time passes, Chloe’s condition deteriorates while the relationship between Chick and Alise turns sour. Colin spends his fortune on treating Chloe, which causes him to passionately fire his cook and sell his pianocktail, and he slips into poverty as he does anything to save Chloe from passing away…

The surreal universe from director Michel Gondry has been intriguing at times and frustrating at other times. “Mood Indigo” carries the mark of the latter. The visual schizophrenic structure takes its toll on you and it´s hard to focus on the plot line. It feels like one gigantic soup made by Gondry, Spike Jonze, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and a splash of Dali, but the flavours are so many that you can´t distinguish anything in the soup. The fact that the aesthetic of the film changes from colorful and whimsical to monochromatic and tragic as the film progresses is fine, but everything in between makes it feel like the movie is on a massive amount of cocaine and ten cans of Red Bull. Rotten Tomatoes said “Mood Indigo is far from Michel Gondry’s most compelling work, but it doesn’t skimp on the visual whimsy and heartfelt emotion fans have come to expect”. The story is tragic and I feel that Gondry got totally lost in this search for as much visual sugarcoating as possible that he forgot about the main plot line. How you will do anything to save a loved one. I had hopes for “Mood Indigo”, but I lost it somewhere in the visual mess beaming from my screen despite good acting and an intriguing foundation. (3 out of 5)

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Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo) and Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) attempts to capture weapon dealers who have been supplying the Mexican drug cartels. The military men are then all killed by the gangsters, who in turn are wiped out by another intervening party. Its leader murders Sartana while Machete is arrested by a corrupt Sheriff Doakes (William Sadler) and Deputy Clebourne (Samuel Davis). Doakes tries to unsuccessfully hang Machete but the President of the US, Rathcock (Charlie Sheen), intervenes. Machete is brought to the White House, where the president offers him US citizenship if he eliminates Marcos Mendez (Demián Bichir), a psychopath who is threatening to fire a nuclear missile at Washington, D.C. if the American government does not intervene to stop the rampant drug cartels in Mexico and the corruption of its government. Machete agrees and travels to San Antonio, where he meets his handler Blanca Vasquez (Amber Heard), an undercover beauty pageant competitor. She sends him to Acapulco to meet a young woman, Cereza (Vanessa Hudgens), who can lead him to Mendez. Machete finds her in a brothel run by her mother, Madame Desdemona (Sofía Vergara), who attempts to kill Machete before he escapes with Cereza. She takes him to Mendez’s associate, Zaror (Marko Zaror), who kills Cereza before taking Machete to Mendez’s base of operations. There, Machete learns that Mendez has wired the missile’s launch device to his heart and triggered its launch in 24 hours. If he dies, the missile fires. After killing Zaror he captures Mendez, intending to escort him to US and find a way to disarm the missile. Machete learns that Mendez is an ex-secret agent who tried to expose his corrupt superiors, only to be betrayed and forced to watch his family being tortured. The trauma drove him insane by creating his split personalities, as well as led him to join forces with the missile’s creator. Shortly thereafter, a hit is put on their heads. Machete is targeted by Madame Desdemona and her prostitute assassins, including a shapeshifting hitman called El Camaleón (Lady Gaga), as well as Doakes. Machete needs to bring Mendez to the USA in less than twenty-four hours, save his new country in a dangerous journey with betrayals and avoid getting killed in the process…

I loved “Machete” and it´s dodgy Grindhouse structure. Cool plot, strange characters (played by a range of well known names), crazy and bloody action sequences, fitting cinematography. Simply put, it was a good one from Robert Rodriguez. “Machete Kills” is however something different somehow. It carries a lot of similarities from the first one, even certain characters, but this feels just like a poor rehash of someone else than Rodriguez. Which is not the case. Maybe the re-booting of the Grindhouse genre feels tired already or Rodriguez simply didn´t manage to put this together in the same way as the first one. The spark is not there. Rotten Tomatoes said “While possessed with the same schlocky lunacy as its far superior predecessor, Machete Kills loses the first installment’s spark in a less deftly assembled sequel.”, which is pretty spot on. I didn´t like “Machete Kills” at all to be honest. (2 out of 5)

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James Bond-Agent 007 (Timothy Dalton)- is assigned to aid the defection of a KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), covering his escape from a concert hall in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia during the orchestra’s intermission. During the mission, Bond notices that the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov’s escape is a female cellist from the orchestra. Disobeying his orders to kill the sniper, he instead shoots the rifle from her hands, then uses the Trans-Siberian Pipeline to smuggle Koskov across the border into Austria and then on to Britain. In his post-defection debriefing, Koskov informs MI6 that the KGB’s old policy of Smiert Spionom, meaning Death to Spies, has been revived by General Leonid Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies), the new head of the KGB. Koskov is later abducted from the safe-house and assumed to have been taken back to Moscow. Bond is directed to track down Pushkin in Tangier and kill him in order to forestall further killings of agents and escalation of tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. Although Bond’s prior knowledge of Pushkin initially leads him to doubt Koskov’s claims, he agrees to carry out the mission when he learns that the assassin who killed 004 left a note bearing the same message, “Smiert Spionom.” Bond returns to Bratislava to track down the cellist, Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo). He determines that Koskov’s entire defection was staged, and that Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend. Bond convinces Milovy that he is a friend of Koskov’s and persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, supposedly to be reunited with him. Meanwhile, Pushkin meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is cancelling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker. During his brief tryst with Milovy in Vienna, Bond meets his MI6 ally, Saunders, who discovers a history of financial dealings between Koskov and Whitaker. As he leaves their meeting, Saunders is killed by Necros (Andreas Wisniewski), Koskov and Whitaker’s henchman, who again leaves the message “Smiert Spionom.” Bond is forced to hunt down both Koskov and Whitaker to stop their evil plans…

Timothy Dalton was originally unavailable to play Bond, and Pierce Brosnan was then chosen to play 007 in 1986 and was given the script to The Living Daylights (1987). Although he was contracted to Remington Steele (1982) for seven seasons, NBC decided to cancel the show at the end of the fourth season, which meant that Brosnan was free to play James Bond in The Living Daylights the following year. However, shortly after the end of the fourth season, NBC had second thoughts about canceling Remington Steele and subsequently approached the Bond producers directly, in an attempt to strike a deal that would allow Brosnan to play both James Bond and Remington Steele the following year. NBC also offered to completely reschedule the shooting of Remington Steele to ensure that there were no scheduling conflicts. But eventually, Albert R. Broccoli famously told NBC that “James Bond will not be Remington Steele and Remington Steele will not be James Bond.” Accordingly, Brosnan would only play Bond if the show remained canceled. NBC had a 60 day deadline to revoke their decision to cancel Remington Steele series and at 6.30pm on the 60th day of the deadline, Brosnan learned that NBC decided to make a fifth season. The Bond producers subsequently prevented Brosnan from becoming the next James Bond. Subsequently, the role went to Timothy Dalton, who was now finally available. NBC went on to make only six episodes of the fifth season of Remington Steele before finally canceling the show for good. Timothy Dalton was originally considered already for the role of James Bond in the late 1960s, after Sean Connery left the role following You Only Live Twice (1967). Dalton was screen tested by Albert R. Broccoli for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) but he turned down the part as he thought he was too young. He was also considered for Diamonds Are Forever (1971) but turned it down again, still feeling he was too young. He was considered again for the role in For Your Eyes Only (1981) when for a time it was unclear whether Roger Moore would return. However, Dalton declined at that time, as there was no script (or even first draft). Dalton was offered the role again in 1983 for Octopussy (1983), and yet again in 1985 for A View to a Kill (1985), but had to decline the role both times due to previous commitments. IGN lauded the film for bringing back realism and espionage to the film series, and showing James Bond’s dark side. Many, including John J. Puccio and Chuck O’Leary, praised Timothy Dalton’s performance and his performing most of the stunts himself. The Washington Post even said Dalton developed “the best Bond ever.” Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times criticised the lack of humour in the protagonist.

The funny part with reading all this surrounding “The Living Daylights” is that I can´t really understand the process of hunting down Timothy Dalton to play Bond for so many years, the movie itself and the very positive critique of the movie. I reckon I do need to reflect on the fact that this took place in 1986-1987 and I did see it at the movies when it came out then, and a new Bond movie was a big big thing in the 80s. Not maybe the same today, even if the current part of the Bond franchise is very successful. Re-seeing “The Living Daylights” ends up on the less good movies shelf for me. Timothy Dalton seems unfocused, not really fitting the Bond costume, slightly poor in his acting in some scenes and the humour bit doesn´t work at all compared to how Moore tackled the funny parts in his Bond movies. The movie is shot ok in some scenes, bad green screens and stage environments in others. You can clearly see the use of stuntmen instead of the real actors in several scenes (nothing new in terms of Bond though). The general vibe and feeling is a poor mans Bond in my point of view. The action is ok in some scenes, pretty shitty in other scenes. The bad guys don´t really come off as all that bad. Reviewers claim that this is “dark”, I don´t agree at all to that. As far as I remember, “Licence To Kill” was a hell of a lot more darker than this. I personally think this is amongst the worst Bond movies made. The best part in this mess? A-ha´s title song and the stunning Maryam d’Abo. (2 out of 5)

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