Classic Intel: Archangel - DVD Review

'It's not Bond, but it may do until he gets here.'

Those searching for a Bond fix pre-SPECTRE could do a whole lot worse than searching out BBC mini-series/film Archangel, a Daniel Craig-fronted 2005 offering that plays broadly (and fairly cheaply) like an informal cross between Indiana Jones and Britain's favourite secret agent.

Perhaps those claims do not bear up to close scrutiny but, nevertheless, Craig's impossibly monikered Fluke Kelso is a professor on a bit of rampaging journey (through Russia) and his trek does take in elements such as the secret police, suspicious murders and a state up to no good. It's perhaps not Goldeneye, but it has been to the same dam-based military installations, looked over the top and decided it doesn't have the inclination (or budget) to jump.

The good includes the same sort of fish-out-of-water-who-secretly-loves-the-water feeling you get with Jones and the same smoothness you get with Bond. Kelso walking away from a potential love interest in a lift, in order to drop a tail, is pure bastard Bond, his righteous indignation at all and sundry, close to Jones. It's lacking humour, something that would certainly elevate it, but it attains charm, which is at least something. The occasionally uncertain plot is largely well-handled by director Jon Jones, who makes the two hour-plus runtime fly by. If you're looking for further comparisons then there is a distinct feeling of Scandi Noir here, in amongst the chilly Russian on-location filming, especially once the bodies start to pile up.

The bad pulls Archangel down a bit too much to truly say this is ultra-worthy of your time. The supporting cast around Craig, for one, are dubious. Gabriel Macht, probably the most recognisable name there, is dubiously broad. The picture the film paints of contemporary Russia too is a very Westernised one, though not necessarily any less true. Jones' Russia is one at war with itself, uncertain of its ideals, ideas and, more than anything, of its history. The first two 'episodes', watching this as originally aired on TV, are also much stronger than the third, which pulls out some starkly unbelievable conclusions, including Macht and Craig partaking in a bit of forced waltzing around a wilderness log cabin.

On the whole though, this is more fun than that sounds, supremely watchable and at least in possession of an idea or too. It's not Bond, but it may do until he gets here.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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