After the conceptual bloat of the late Pierce Brosnan films, the coming of Daniel Craig was supposed to be a return to basics: a post-bubble austerity program for a franchise struggling with its longstanding reliance on subprime special effects and gimmicks.
And the intro sequence here is extremely basic. Gone are the massive action set-pieces, the mind-boggling stunts, the beautiful women, the cars, the gadgets. Instead, we watch, in flashback, the story of how Bond first earned his “00″ status — his license to kill.
But what it lacks in flash, it makes up for in film-school artsiness. The whole sequence — in which a crooked MI6 station chief arrives at his Prague office to find Bond waiting for him — is shot in hi-contrast black and white, with Hitchcockian camera angles and stark, shallow-focus closeups. It’s quite beautiful, really. But we didn’t come here for a master class in building cinematic tension; we want to see Bond kick some ass. Which he does, satisfyingly, in a flashback-within-the-flashback—but again, it’s a stripped down fight scene, two guys going mano a mano in a dingy restroom.
The intro manages the nice trick of highlighting that this is not only a new Bond movie but that this is a new Bond, one we haven’t seen before. Pierce Brosnan’s 007 had a family motto, while Roger Moore’s drank espresso and had an exclusive bootmaker. This Bond, however, seems to have no such upper-class pretensions. He’s a cold-eyed killer: tougher, meaner and a lot more rough around the edges.
Next Goldfinger, 1964