Essentially, this was Midsomer Murders without the murders. It is just a touch classier, though, with a script by Ronald Harwood’s from his own play and a superb cast. Tom Courtney, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly are the quartet of ageing opera singers in the old people’s home run by Sheridan Smith, with Michael Gambon occasionally stepping in to steal the limelight. It says Dustin Hoffman directed it but it didn’t really need much direction with a script and a cast like that. It grabbed this afternoon’s audience who sat through the credits for the cast then applauded.
Sam Mendes was obviously very conscious that this was Bond’s 50th anniversary and there are lots of references to the old Sean Connery Bond films. Most of my description still applies apart from some deliberate and fun twists. I won’t spoil the plot but, for example, when the new Q gives Bond his equipment. Bond looks at it, “So that’s it, a gun and a radio?” “Sorry, no exploding pen -we’re not into that sort of thing any more.” Exotic locations, beautiful women, lots of drinking, but none of the good guys smoke any more. Javier Bardem is a perfect Bond villain. Beneath the fun there were a couple of decent subtexts (we never had them in the old days) about growing old and about loyalty.