REVIEW: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

3 Stars (3 / 5)
When, in 1977, Carly Simon sang “Nobody Does It Better” in reference to Britain’s favourite secret agent, 007, she couldn’t have foreseen the coming of Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton).

While the idea of a working-class lad OHMSS had been covered in slightly more low-key form of Harry Palmer,1 Matthew Vaughn’s comic-book-inspired Kingsman: The Secret Service was the first to do so while embracing the fundamental silliness of the whole super-spy concept.…

Jason Bourne AKA The Bourne Variations AKA Bourne… Again?

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

After almost a decade off the grid, Jason Bourne has returned in a film titled, somewhat unimaginatively, Jason Bourne.

No identities, supremacies, ultimatums, or legacies; just the man himself, played once again by Matt Damon. With Paul Greengrass back directing, too, it’s almost like he never went away.…

Bridge of Spies is a classic Cold War drama from the master of popular cinema

2015 was the year of onscreen espionage: Spy, Kingsman, Mission: Impossible, and, of course, Specter. Bridge of Spies seems like the first one likely to trouble Uncle Oscar.

The film opens in 1957 at the “height of the Cold War” as a title card helpfully informs us.…

Spectre summons up the ghosts of the Bond franchise to diminishing returns

3 Stars (3 / 5)

The evocatively titled Spectre, 24th installment of the Bond franchise, is a film steeped in continuity but light on originality.

While capitalizing on the back-story laid down for Daniel Craig’s super-spy in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall – the first incarnation of the character to have much by the way of continuity – it finds the time, over the course of 138 minutes – which also makes Spectre the longest film in the franchise – to riff on nearly every previous episode from the series’ 53 year history.…

Man From UNCLE is stylish but hardly likely to shake up Bond

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

The second blockbuster based on a ‘60s spy series to hit this summer, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. provides a stylish jaunt back to the Cold War.

Following a red-tinted title sequence that provides a potted history of recent U.S-Russia relations, we find ourselves in 1963.…

Spy is a vulgar, good-natured feminist riff on the old 007 formula

3 Stars (3 / 5)

Spy reunites writer-director Paul Feig and Oscar-nominated funny-woman Melissa McCarthy.

McCarty plays meek CIA desk jockey Susan Cooper, providing support to her suave male counterpart Bradley Fine (Jude Law doing Bond, tux and all). A tragic turn of events draws Susan out of the basement, leading her to go undercover, and gives her plenty of opportunity to prove her badassery – and for McCarthy to stretch her comedy chops.

Kingsman: The Secret Service goes to top of the (working) class

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Remember when spy movies were silly and fun?

Long before Daniel Craig’s brooding, psychologically complex 007, Sean Connery “yellowed up” to take on a scar-faced megalomaniacal villain in his hidden volcano base, George Lazenby went undercover at an alpine base filled with a bevy of (non-allergenic) beauties, Roger Moore headed into space to battle a metal-mouthed giant (alongside the unlikely named Holly Goodhead), and Timothy Dalton, well, he mostly brooded too.…

A Most Wanted Man is a fitting elegy to a tremendous talent (RIP, Phillip Seymour Hoffman)

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man has the distinction of being not only the first John Le Carré adaptation to reach our screens since Tomas Alfredson’s critically acclaimed Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy back in 2011, but also the last leading role of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who passed away back in February.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit fails to fully surface

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

Has ever a hero been rebooted as repeatedly and with little aplomb as Jack Ryan? From Sean Connery-starrer Hunt for the Red October back in 1990 through to the present day, Tom Clancy’s best-known protagonist has grossed more than half a billion dollars.…

Skyfall takes the Bond franchise deeper than ever before

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Well, that took a while, but after four years of languishing in MGM’s cash-strapped development rooms, James Bond is finally back on the big screen, just in time for the franchise’s 50th anniversary.

The question is whether Skyfall, directed by the esteemed Sam Mendes, is a worthy showcase for half a century of martini-swilling, Aston-driving, megalomaniac-stopping, not-returning-gadgets-even-though-specifically-asked-to-by-Q-Branch-ing “spy craft”.…