Monday, January 01, 2001

Casino Royale (with cheese)

Bond is dead, long live Bond

From the start the film makers let us know we’re in for a dangerous, less charming bond. Rather than sip an expensive cocktail on a yacht (don’t worry both of which he will do later, it IS a bond film, rebooted or no) and then fire off a witty remark, we see him beat a man about the face, drown him. Watch as he shoots another in the coldest of cold blood. And THEN fire off a witty remark. Which I suppose is fair enough for a film which is about, essentially a state sponsored hit-man.

Daniel Craig is a craggy faced brute with eyes so blue, I suspect he could shoot lasers from them, and plays the role with a brooding menace, and he’s really good at the brooding, I bet it took hundreds of takes to get the level of brooding just right “Yes Daniel, great take, but can we do it again, you was giving me low menace, I really want you to brood this time, like really brood”. Most people have been comparing him to the original literary character (a vaguely racist, misogynist wish fulfilment by a womanising drunk), but I bet Craig took more from Sean Connery’s Bond than the dull books. Common folklore holds that when Connery auditioned for Bond he was dismissed as an “jumped up stunt man” but as he walked back through the car park he seen to move “like a panther” or some such.

In this film we are allowed to see Bond as a human, rather than the dashing arch-type the figure has become, one particularly clever scene, after a harrowing fight scene where he strangles a stranger to death, we are allowed to see the bloodied, bruised Bond change his shirt wash the blood from his face and glug back a soothing shot of whiskey. A peek behind the curtain before he dons the tux and gets back to the card table. But by giving us those glimpses into his psyche, we are left wanting to know more. By revealing a little they are increasing the mystery of the character, which Craig does brilliantly.

Another notably scene is the free-running action sequence near the start, a non CGI romp through a building site, which made me want to turn round to the guy next to me and say “holy crap, did you see that?” several times, upon reflection I am glad I didn’t, because not only did I not know the guy, but also he obviously did see it because there quite obviously nothing else to do in the darkened room with a 100 foot screen in front of you. Fans of “le parkour” will recognise the co founder Sebastien Foucan as the man doing all the impossible jumps, spins and larking about.

It does have bad points. The films dialogue can be a bit cheesy in places, but I see this as a return to sincerity after the Po-Mo tongue in cheek style of dialogue that we are used to, I suppose the price of sincerity is to come off looking a bit cheesy. Mads Mikkelsen plays the villain, and while he doesn’t do a bad job, chiefly because he fulfills the three main points of a classic bond villain by 1 being foreign 2 being disabled 3 being disfigured, he never really appears scary or even that threatening. And it does drag on a bit, they wrap up the main narrative after about two hours but spend a further half an hour wrapping up the loose ends which is a bit clunky and feels disjointed.

If you haven’t already (although box office returns indicates you probably have) go see this film. Just take a cushion and have a pee before it starts.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Booze is my