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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Casino Royale

****½ Casino Royale. Action/adventure.

Directed by: Martin Campbell.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench.

This finally got to the AAFES circuit, and we saw it at the Hercules on Ramstein. It was still packed, but a much better theater than the Nightingale, and much less hectic.

There was a huge amount of controversy in fandom surrounding Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, most of it negative, and mostly centered around his appearance. I've mentioned before that I'm really not a visually-oriented person, so maybe that's why such objections never made any sense to me. It's vastly more important to me that the actor is convincing in the role, and Daniel Craig fit this role in this film very well.

Of course, Casino Royale is a different sort of Bond film from the most recent ones, and substituting Daniel Craig's James Bond for Pierce Brosnan's really wouldn't have worked. Nor would Pierce Brosnan's James Bond have worked in Casino Royale.

As for those who complain that Casino Royale is mucking around with the tradition--yes, this is vastly different from Die Another Day. But this is not the first time the franchise has shifted direction. It's happened pretty much every time there's a new Bond, though it seems to have been a more gradual shift from Moore to Dalton to Brosnan. What makes it more acceptable is that Casino Royale takes place at the very beginning of the Bond mythos, so even if one doesn't view the movies as disparate entities, it's believable that when he first became 007, he was rougher around the edges than he was later.

Casino Royale shows the very beginning of James Bond--how he becomes 007. The start of the film was a dizzying blur, partially in black and white, depicting his earning that 00 status (two kills required--the first one's the hardest). It was brutal and stark, and only the distance created by the film techniques kept it from being too graphic.

There's a requisite busy action scene, with a chase scene that was so long and involved such Jackie-Chan-worthy stunts that I started laughing, earning a glare from my older son. Whoops. No, I wasn't loud. I'm not one of those people.

But then we get to the meat of the movie, with Bond against Le Chiffre, a terrorist financier who's also an inveterate gambler. Bond's mission is to join the high-stakes game and win--or rather, keep Le Chiffre from winning, bankrupting him, and forcing him to accept the government's offer. Enter Vesper Lynd, the treasury agent who comes along to ensure that Bond isn't wasting the government's money.

You can tell it's been a long time since I read the books, because I kept hearing her name as "Vespa", which made some of the jokes a little nonsensical.

It's not a spoiler to say that Bond falls in love with her and she eventually betrays him--after all, James Bond cannot have a HEA romantic ending, particularly not at this juncture, because we know from earlier films that he's single. Don't try to sort out the timelines--it'll give you a headache, particularly if you try to reconcile Judi Dench's M with Goldeneye.

All in all, an exciting film. A change in direction for the franchise, to be sure, but one that was necessary, I think, to re-energize the series. I'm looking forward to Bond-22, whatever it is.


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I'm anxious to see this movie, been waiting to find the time to!

Great review and glad to see it getting great grade by you
Wow--here I thought I was the last person to see this movie! :)
nah--- but you know me, am always far behind on everything...which included movies LOL.

But I hear lot of people already saw it and raves about it :)
can't wait for the dvd.. 2 more weeks...
Haven't seen this yet, and this is the first review I've read...thanks for that! Looks like a watch-the-dvd-at-home kinda flick.
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