Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shaken, not stirred

60s-inspired spies are back! At least, for me. On the big screen.

I never watched the old classic series, but the remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E  was good, cheesy fun.  Cold War spy thriller + Henry Cavill = reason I went to see the movie with no idea what it entailed. But the plot was outlined for us 21st-century newbies: an American and a Russian spy have to join forces to stop a nefarious secret organization bent on controlling the world. It's cute and HILARIOUS and chock full of great action scenes. Surprisingly, I wasn't drooling over Henry as much as I expected to be; the frenemy interactions between him and Armie Hammer were what stole the show. I will watch it again and again when it's released for streaming, and I really hope there's a sequel.

While I'm on the spy theme...

Daniel Craig is definitely my favorite James Bond; he brings a grittiness and brutal realism to the violent world of espionage. Some earlier Bonds were utterly ridiculous, little more than laughable fops. But I like how Craig's 007 continually makes us second-guess why Bond is so popular, 50+ years later and with all its sexist, colonial baggage.

Plus, his cars just get better every movie.

SPECTRE
 is now my favorite Bond movie. I wasn't the biggest fan of Skyfall (too much focus on Bond returning to his childhood roots, plus they offed Judy Dench). But SPECTRE was great.  It questions what makes a good spy tick, the relevance of field agents, and the limits of technology and privacy.  SPOILER ALERT:  You know when Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty in Sherlock, appears onscreen, there's no way he's a good guy; he's just too good at the evil supervillain thing. Likewise with Christoph Waltz. But SPECTRE had its share of belief-suspending action and momentary honest introspection. It didn't go overboard with the love interests (which I always hate in Bond movies); and though it drew on Bond's personal past, unlike Skyfall it didn't seem like a Freudian-riddled therapy session.

Hooray for the return of uncomplicated spy films!