A few not-so-shocking giveaways about this week’s new movie releases, including Justice League and Frank Serpico
Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
The first true sequel in the twenty-odd entries of the James Bond series, picking up our Blond Bond (Daniel Craig) on the trail of vengeance after the death of his ladylove, Vesper, at the end of Casino Royale. (This was a trail closed off to the newly widowed Bond at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when poor George Lazenby, the only one-timer in the series, got booted out the door as if he never should have happened.) The film fails, however, to solidify, much less build upon, the promise of the fresh start in its forerunner. It perhaps meets the fundamental requirements of action and pace, hurtling forward with only the briefest of pauses and coming in at a tidy hour and three-quarters, the shortest Bond film in the entire series. As a likely result of that, it can seldom make time for the preparation that would give the action scenes sense and import. They are little more than turbulence. And the underlying split personality still remains: Why bother to infuse the Bond character with a greater air of reality if he’s going to continue to be allowed the acrobatics of a Jackie Chan? Surely our rougher and tougher superspy wouldn’t want us snorting in derision, or even chortling in delight, when he’s busy exacting payment for the snuffed-out life of his beloved. James Bond appears to be turning little by little into Jason Bourne. It’s not a step up. With Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, and Giancarlo Giannini; directed by Marc Forster. 2008.