Some time ago, I had a meeting in LA with some producers who claimed to have the rights to the James Bond film Thunderball; I guess that dates the story, since the rights are firmly back in the hands of the Broccoli family by now. They had a great, original idea to revamp the Bond myth and create a new franchise, and it was fun to discuss, in earnest, that eternal question of who would make a great James Bond. These days, I’m down for Daniel Kaluuya in an evolved, PC woke reboot, but there’s surely a case to be leaning into the dangerous edge for an old-school, retro Bond via Dan Stevens.
Stevens is a graduate of the Downtown Abbey tv show, but he’s a pretty versatile actor who is currently enjoying the limelight due to his inspired comic turn as the ecomaniac Russian in the Eurovision movie. He was, of course, the Beast in the Beauty and the Beast remake, yet for such big roles, Stevens isn’t quite the household name he should be, but his talents are well show-cased by this tight-little B Movie in which he manages to maintain a dangerous presence till the very last scene.
Stevens plays David, a soldier freshly returned from the war and inveigling his way into the suburban household of teen Anna (well-played by Maika Monroe). He’s got a way with guns and weapons that would put Jason Bourne to shame, but who is he and where does he come from? Although the Halloween-grotto school-climax could have come from any number of genetically-modified soldier thrillers, the lead up is consistently subversive and rich in portent, as David’s violent abilities are revealed in several disconcerting scenes in which he defends Anna from corrupting local influences.
A far more controlled film that director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barret’s You’re Next, The Guest doesn’t need the John Carpenter nods from the titles onwards to announce itself as a promisingly taut thriller; it’s straight up, easy to recommend Saturday night popcorn thriller. If you’ve not seen it, a pitiful $0.99 on Amazon Prime in the UK should give you a crash-course in style from Dan Stevens. Link is below…