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A Farewell to Arms
on 20 July 2015
Unfairly overlooked in the summer of 1989 in favour of the other big blockbusters of the time (I'm looking at you 'Batman') and relegated to minor status in the intervening years by fans and public alike, this second outing for Timothy Dalton's 007 deserves a second chance as there is much to be enjoyed and rediscovered.
Unlike the usual ''terrorist wants to take over the world'' plot, this entry finds our hero battling a much more down to earth villain. When drug baron Franz Sanchez (played to perfection by Robert Davi, clearly relishing his role) maims Felix Leiter (a returning David Heddison) and murders his bride Della (Priscilla Barnes) in order to locate important intel that Leiter holds, our man James discovers his inner Charles Bronson and launches into a revenge fuelled tirade across Florida to the mysterious Isthmus City where Franchez's main centre of operations is held. Along the way, Bond is first stripped of his licence to kill and operating on his own is helped by the dependable Q (Desmond Lewellyn in a much meatier role) and beautiful pilot Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) who aid him in an attempt to bring Franchez down and avenge Leiter.
This time, the screenplay is much more of the 80s action movie template and maybe that's why the audience stayed away. I guess if you wanted to see that, there were plenty of 'Die Hards' and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies at the time that fitted that bill - however, as a Bond movie it is a refreshing change of pace and suits Tim Dalton's portrayal perfectly. He's assured, mean and very moody and his steely blue eyes feel like they could laser beam through glass - for me, he's the perfect 007 and I wish he had hung around for a third adventure, but alas not to be. The rest of the cast are also spot on and for a movie that hits the two hour mark, it rarely lags with enough action, romance and adventure to satisfy any movie fan. Director John Glen (on his last assignment) goes for the jugular delivering a much harder movie than previous instalments with razor sharp editing and blistering action sequences. Kudos also to composer Michael Kamen who delivers a lush score that accentuates the action aesthetic and cinematographer Alec Mills keeps the movie looking exuberant and attractive throughout.
The blu ray is of the usual MGM James Bond high standard: Excellent picture quality with great contrast and detail throughout. The special features are plentiful including commentaries, documentaries, etc. and an assortment of featurettes. All in all, a decent package and highly recommended for people who haven't seen it in awhile and new Bond fans looking for something that is akin to what Daniel Craig is doing now.