Tuesday, 29 January 2019

THE JAMES BOND COCKTAIL HOUR: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Peter R. Hunt, 1969)

"This never happened to the other fella..."

The James Bond Cocktail Hour returns with On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the 1969 epic that introduced and bid farewell to George Lazenby, the man who only lived once.

What to say about this movie? The hyper-kinetic editing? John Barry's towering score? Diane Rigg's scene-stealing performance?

Join my co-host Hugh Benson as we take a step back (or is it forward?) in time. The older this movie gets, the more evergreen it feels!

Download the episode! Subscribe! Share with your friends! Share it with your enemies!


Bond 25 speculation: What Could Lea Seydoux's return mean?

Den of Geek articles

Bond reviews

Diamonds Are Forever

The Man With The Golden Gun


For Your Eyes Only


A View To A Kill

The Living Daylights

Licence to Kill


Tomorrow Never Dies

The World Is Not Enough (2010)(2017)

Die Another Day

Casino Royale

Quantum of Solace

Spectre (2015); (2016)

Sunday, 27 January 2019

The Marine 6 - No Quarters (James Nunn, 2018)

As a jury deliberates on the sentencing of a local crime boss, his daughter Maddy Hayes (Becky Lynch) has kidnapped the daughter of one of the members of the jury, in order to scupper a probable guilty verdict.

After meeting up with his old CO Luke Trapper (Shawn Michaels), ex-Marine/current EMT Jake Carter (Mike 'The Miz' Mizanin) accompanies Trapper to an abandoned factory to check on a fellow veteran who is squatting in the building.

After accomplishing their mission, the pair stumble on Hayes' gang, who are holding their hostage in the factory. A cat-and-mouse chase ensues as the ex-marines try to get the girl to safety.

Happy New Year!

I was considering a theme for this month. Considered, and ignored.

Here's a review of the latest instalment in The Marine franchise.

As with the last movie, Close Quarters (directed by The Marine 5's James Nunn) feels like the people making this created a movie to scale with its resources: the disused factory setting; a (initially) small group of villains; and a reasonable reason to avoid guns (the gang do not want to draw attention to themselves).

A good genre movie establishes a set of rules to define the way the world of its story works - in action movies, one of the most important (and often underestimated) rules is the impact of the violence characters enact on each other. Will an explosion knock you off your feet, or disintegrate a squad? Will your protagonist shrug off a gunshot wound that would kill someone in the non-reel world? Can a throwing knife kill someone?

Throughout No Quarters, the filmmakers keep the action lo-fi. There is only one big explosion, and firearms only enter the picture late in the movie. One of the best set pieces involves our heroes using an old air duct to escape to a floor below. Rather than a big fight, the scene is largely based on suspense, and the endurance of our heroes.

The best part of the scene is how the villains figure out how to screw Carter and Trapper's escape. Since they are stuck slowly climbing down a tube with an unknown terminus, the thugs start dropping sand bags. Considering the franchises' past excess, it is refreshing to watch a scene predicated around Shawn Michaels trying to brace himself against a near-sheer surface as the weight grows on his shoulders, while the people below him try to get to the bottom of the shaft.

Top to bottom, the movie never feels like its ambitions will exceed its budget.

Carter and Trapper
As far as the performances go, they all work well. The Miz is good as the Steve Rogers-esque lead, and he has a really good rapport with Shawn Michaels as Carter's old CO. The wear-and-tear of his off-screen antics have clearly had a toll on the veteran wrestler, and this plays into the character of a veteran soldier. Having Trapper there also grounds the action in a way.

While the movie's forte is not comedy, there is a thin sliver of irony to watching the exasperated CO watch his protege go about his business. More importantly, Trapper's reactions make Carter's super-heroic antics even more singular. There is also a catharsis to the finale, as by the end of the movie, Trapper is ultimately responsible for taking the bad guys down.

Despite her character's unfortunate name, Becky Lynch is also solid as the villain. She gets plenty of nasty 80s-style business to make her as evil as possible, and the script bothers to make her smart enough to counter the marines' attempts to get out of the building.

Overall, I don't think Close Quarters is as good as the previous movie - there is a fun twist just before the third act that provides a neat shock in the moment, but aims for a pathos that feels more dependant on a knowledge of the previous movies than this one. The third act is fine, but lacks the low-level inventiveness of the rest of the movie.

Still, The Marine 6 - No Quarters is a really solid flick. James Nunn is a really strong filmmaker, and I am looking forward to whatever he decides to do next. The movie does end in an interesting place, which actually makes me interested in where the series goes next.

If you are in the mood for CG-free action, The Marine 6 - No Quarters is a fun watch.

If you are new to this blog, I also co-host a podcast on James Bond called The James Bond Cocktail Hour. Every episode, we do a review of one of the books and one of the movies, picked at random. 

The latest episode is out today - to get in the holiday spirit, we review John Gardner's Christmas-set thriller Win, Lose or Die (1989). Available wherever you get your podcasts.