On Casino Royale
Normally, I am content to watch movies on DVD at home. There are some movies, however, that need to be experienced in the theatre. Almost all of the James Bond films fit in that category. So, this weekend I went to see the latest release of Casino Royale.
I say the latest release because there have been earlier films and television versions of Mr. Fleming?s first Bond novel, most notable of these being a spoof of Bond back in 1967. This version is much better.
It is important to note that this movie is based on the first Bond novel. We are used to seeing Bond as a well established and experienced secret agent. In this film, he is a brand new Double O agent and he makes a few rookie mistakes. Because of this, you may have to set aside what you already know about James Bond in order to enjoy the movie thoroughly.
On the subject of new guys, Daniel Craig does a wonderful job as the young Bond. As a new hit man for MI6, the young Bond is much more physical and Craig pulls this off rather well. Many of the fights and chases are far more intense and long lasting than we are used to seeing. The movie pulls it off rather well; the fights never seem gratuitously long.
The problem with the more physical Bond is that they keep showing him naked or nearly naked. Sorry, producers, I?m a hetero guy and don?t want to be watching naked guy on the big screen. Unlike previous Bond films, the women, though very beautiful, are almost always fully clothed. Now, I understand the attempt to keep from objectifying women, but if I?m going to see nudity I have my preferences.
Eva Green does a good job as the female lead. I can?t say too much without giving away the story. I will say that her acting seemed good, though sometimes it seemed she didn?t have much with which to work. Too much of her character has to be worked out through exposition and there aren?t enough clues earlier in the movie to make her story work. It is obvious that the writers and director concentrated far too much on the Bond character and tacked the other characters on as needed.
Another actress whom seemed to be doing well was Caterina Murino. She performed her part very well. Unfortunately, her part and character were fairly short lived. This is a surprise since the official web site lists her prominently, though it doesn?t list the bad guy?s main squeeze who shows up throughout the film.
The bad guy, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is an interesting character. He is a little more complex than we are used to in a Bond villain. There are no white, Persian cats. I haven?t seen any of Mikkelsen?s previous work, so I cannot tell if he was type-cast. If he was, I feel bad for him because he was really good as a bad guy.
The movie flowed well. There were scenes toward the end that dragged a bit and a couple of times the movie seemed to reach a natural conclusion but continued on. I realize that the extra material is important and that there were parts that needed to be settled (remember what I said about exposition above). Still, I think the director could have put a little more effort into those parts as well.
This is a good movie. You must leave behind your previous biases about Bond, but it is well worth it. I highly recommend Casino Royale. (The best part is that Madonna had nothing to do with the theme song.)