2012 in Film: My Top 5

3. Premium Rush

In The City That Never Sleeps, over 1,500 bicycle messengers perform the thankless task of navigating New York’s districts to hand-deliver the city’s urgent mail. None is more committed than the carefree Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), opposed to stuffy office work and clearly in his element gliding effortlessly – yet always dangerously – through the overcrowded streets of the NYC.

When he is handed an urgent delivery one evening, little does he know of the shady hawala situation he has become embroiled in. He is chased by corrupt cop Bobby (Michael Shannon), with money problems of his own, intent on acquiring the envelope by any means.

Shannon plays the role wondrously, maintaining a constant and terrifying threat to Wilee throughout. He exploits his character’s position of authority, constantly aware that a man in Bobby’s position can threaten his adversaries with the backing of the instrumental power he possesses.

It’s refreshing to see a protagonist escape and outwit a gun-wielding villain (in his powerful car) on nothing more than a push bike. When reading “Wilee”, think “Coyote”, and you will understand the fast-paced nature of the film’s hero as he perilously dodges the uber-congestion of one of the world’s busiest cities.

The action genre is in desperate need of novel chase scenes, and of villains who use their societal power to terrify as opposed to their physical strength, and Premium Rush provides all of these.


2. Skyfall

Chasing a villain who has stolen a hard drive containing the details of secret agents from around the world, Bond is shot and presumed dead. M (Judi Dench) comes under pressure to retire from her post as head of MI6; receives threatening messages on her computer, and there is an explosion at MI6 headquarters. The threat from terrorism is very real.

Bond uses his presumed death to retire to a paradise island, but upon hearing the news of the attacks returns to London. He struggles to re-integrate as a 00 agent, and the weaknesses in his character are obvious and worrying. M’s mistakes also give more realism to her character, and when the pair travel to Skyfall – Bond’s childhood home in the Scottish highlands – the relationship between the two is seen as more than just professional, but a friendship.

A fresh take on Q’s character couldn’t be further from that of John Cleese’s recent portrayals, but is wonderfully (and comically) depicted by Ben Whishaw. Javier Bardem is exquisite as the villain, Silva, and the leading ‘Bond girl’ Severine (Bérénice Marlohe) is simultaneously sexy and suspicious. And the soundtrack – well that is exquisite!

It’s topical, and with enough modernity has attracted fresh audiences. But there are unmistakable elements that are classic Bond. The balance between the two is perfect. A wonderful ‘best of British’ film which is undoubtedly the best of the franchise.


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