Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Movie Review - Casino Royale


Though not as skeptical of Daniel Craig as a lot of Bond fans were, I was nonetheless curious how well he would fill the shoes previously inhabited by Connery, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, etc. I'd previously seen Craig in Munich and Layer Cake, two outstanding movies. So I knew of his talent but it is not just talent that makes a perfect Bond. You must have an appreciation of the original source material (Ian Fleming's novels). You must have a ruggedness and cockiness that suggests an underprivileged upbringing and you must have raw sexuality. Sadly, only one of the previous Bonds had this ... Sean Connery. I liked the succeeding movies well enough but that was despite the Bond actors instead of because of them. Pierce Brosnan was probably the 2nd best in my eyes but even he was a little too refined and dandy to be a true Bond.

Daniel Craig is now my new 2nd best Bond and he passes all my tests of what a Bond actor should be. A lot of people had a problem when Craig was cast merely because he had blond hair intead of the classic dark hair. If that's the worst that can be said about him, he is doing well.

Casino Royale (loosely based on Ian Fleming's first Bond novel) does a great job of not only stripping down the Bond character to it's original elements but also the setting in which he works. The movies of the 80's and 90's relied too much on the cuteness and novelty of the gadgets that Bond would use. This movie has few, if any. The violence is gritty.

The plot from MovieWeb:
... CASINO ROYALE traces the early career of James Bond. His first "007" mission leads him to Le Chiffre, banker to the world's terrorists. In order to stop him and bring down the terrorist network, Bond must beat Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game at Casino Royale. Bond is initially annoyed when a beautiful Treasury official, Vesper Lynd, is assigned to deliver his stake for the game and watch over the government's money. But as Bond and Vesper survive a series of lethal attacks by Le Chiffre and his henchmen, a mutual attraction develops, leading them both into further danger and events that will shape Bond's life forever ...

The movie runs long (2 1/2 hours) but is fairly well-paced. It has some unique fight scenes with Jackie Chan-style gymnastics. The supporting cast fill their roles well, particularly the beautiful Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. She is a French-born actress previously seen in Kingdom of Heaven. Overall, I liked this movie quite a bit. It's a worthy reinventing of the Bond franchise. Grade: B+

6 comments:

CyberKitten said...

Wasn't bad was it? Though not a *huge* Bond fan I have seen all of the movies & read all of the (original) books. I thought that Daniel Craig was a creditable edition to the Bond stable and felt - to me - to be getting back to the way Bond should be.

The film slumped a bit near the end (and was about 30 minutes too long) but all in all a good film.

Laura said...

I've never gotten in to Bond at all. Not sure why. I might see this on cable, but probably won't go to the theatre.

Off topic, I just so happened to see Godel, Escher, and Bach in your current reads list - That's in my Amazon list of things to buy once I'm done with the mile high pile of books in my queue. You will have to let us know how it is...

dbackdad said...

CK -- I agree on all points.

Laura -- My best friend (and fellow blogger) Eric recommended that one to me. We'll see if I can wade through it. It's fairly heavy on the science and math. I'm no slouch in that department -- [ I'm anticipating the obligatory response ... Chevy Chase in Caddyshack -- "Don't be so hard on yourself, judge. You're a tremendous slouch."]. lol

Jewish Atheist said...

I liked it a lot. FYI, that first fight seen had parkour, or freerunning. Search youtube for some unbelievable amateur videos.

james said...

I like Daniel Craig as Bond but I did NOT like this film. I thought the plot was weak with too many questions unanswered.

Casino Royale 2006 said...

I am with you James about this movie. This movie really disappointed me a lot. I was hoping that this will surely hit but when I saw this movie all my expectations went down.