Movie review entries

December 05, 2006

Film review: Casino Royale

Casino Royale
3 out of 5 stars

Well a lot of people seem to be reviewing this movie, and without giving commenting permissions for me to put my thoughts forward, so here goes my take on the 21st Bond film.

Let me start out by stating that I am a big Bond fan. There are few Bond films I don’t really enjoy watching; the combination of gadgets, cars, action scenes and silly humour is a brilliant formula in my opinion, and like so many blokes there are many things about Bond and his lifestyle that I idolise. Many people have commented on how different Craig’s Bond is to previous and how much they liked it; I would agree entirely on the differences that have been made but oppose them just as much as others welcome them.

The first thing that irked me was right at the start of the film – the start should contain the James Bond theme (originally performed by the Monty Normal orchestra but revised many times) and this one didn’t. The intro was quite cool, if a little violent and graphic for a Bond film, but then the credits sequence was rubbish and totally a break from tradition in a bad way. Little things like this continued to niggle me throughout the film, die-hard Bond fan that I am.

One of my worries prior to seeing this film was that Craig was going to be too soft a Bond, too much a placement for the large female fanbase he seems to have and not enough tough-guy suave agent. I’ll admit readily that I was wrong to consider him too soft in the way that I thought; Craig’s Bond is actually a lot more thuggish than any previous and not any better for it. In many of the scenes he is cut, bruised and bleeding, and the fight scenes are equally far more graphic and don’t have a place in a Bond film. With this thuggishness comes a partial loss of the immense suaveness and coolness of the character, which is pretty glaring at times. Meanwhile, and this is by far and away my biggest criticism of the film, he has gone soft in other ways. The cool, suave, emotionally tough character we knew from previous Bond films has gone and been replaced by a man prone to the emotional trappings of women. His initial flirting/sparring with Lynd was pretty damned good and for a while I was relaxed, but right at the end he blows it all by supposedly giving up his job for her etc. What a sucker. Bond’s coldness and immunity to serious emotional damage was perhaps the most admirable thing I found about the character previously, and now they’ve ruined it in an attempt to ‘modernise’ him.

Lastly, the film wasn’t at all gadget-heavy. I admit that some of the gadgets have gone too over the top, and in some ways it was refreshing to see a more sensible Bond film on this score. The main thing he used however was a mobile phone, and pretty much just to call people. No remote-control for your car or 10,000 volt protection system built in, just a cellphone. How rubbish. The main car of the film, the stunningly good looking DBS with an exhaust note sent from God himself, features briefly for about 20 seconds in the main chase before being written off in one of the most horrific images I think I’ve ever seen on the big screen – again totally rubbish, at least they could have filmed a decent chase first. The product placement was also irritating, it was so glaringly obvious it really stuck out like a sore thumb.

The one thing I will say in this film’s defence is that it wasn’t meant to be like the other Bond films. The gadgets can be explained away by the fact that he was a junior agent, the emotional vulnerability showing how his hardness was formed in younger years. The film does also have a fair bit going for it in the excellent script in places – some of Bond’s banter with M and Lynd is amongst the best ever seen in a Bond film for example, and the bad guy plot is both believable and well-written. So, the makers have had their chance to do something non-Bondlike, and made a good non-Bond film out of it. But it’s not a Bond film yet is branded as such, so it only gets the three stars from me as the differences annoyed me so. Make sure the next one’s a proper Bond or there will be plenty of upset fans like me out there. Grrr.

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