Saturday, November 18, 2006

Casino Royale Review

Casino Royale

I thought this new installation into the James Bond mythos was a good movie, but not necessarily a good 007 film. Personally I didn't think Daniel Craig pulled off the character all that magnificently. He couldn't deliver the quips properly and was much too serious for me at times. Bond is supposed to be debonair, but Craig just came off as kind of a prick to me. In addition to that, while I'm aware that this is only Bond's second mission as a double 'o' agent, he screwed up way too often for my taste and lucked out way too many times. The Bond girl of the film (Vesper Lind as played by Eva Green) actually saved his life on two separate occasions. The torture scene was overall pretty good, but again, someone else saved Bond from a situation that I really think he should have been able to escape from himself.

I wasn't the biggest fan of the opening theme song by Chris Cornell, and the intro animation was visually interesting, but very different from the other films. Namely, there were no silhouetted women in it. Also it was a lot brighter than the dark, mysterious ones from the previous movies. The score of the film was too lacking in the Bond theme for me, though it definitely got the deserving final shot.

The villain (Le Chifre as played by Mads Mikkelsen) was visually interesting and seemed like he would have been much better appreciated if they'd have explained what the hell happened to his eye. The characters comment multiple times about how his eye weeps blood, but we never find out why. I also never really felt much of a threat from the villain until the torture scene near the end of the movie because in all reality, he was the one who was in trouble for the majority of the film, and not Bond himself.

The la parkour scene after the intro credits was outstanding, as were the action scene at the airport and the scuffle in the stairwell of the Casino Royale, however I felt let down by the climactic fight scene in the crumbling building. First off, I didn't give a damn about any of the enemies in this scene, because by this point the main villain of the movie was already dead. Also, the fact that they were fighting in a building that was literally falling down around them didn't add much to the excitement of this scene, which seems unfathomable. While the movie had some great action, I was disappointed by the lack of a car chase. At one point Bond speeds after another car for about 20 seconds, but that's about the extent of the film's chase scenes unless you count Bond fighting a guy in a speeding gasoline truck.

All of the card playing was interesting and enjoyable, and I very much liked all of the high-stakes players. It's just unfortunate that we all knew what was going to happen at the end of the game. I think these were the scenes that Craig really dominated in the film.

I was disappointed that Q (previously played by Desmond Lewellyn) was nowhere to be found in the movie, but it didn't affect the experience any. One problem I did have that a lot of people will probably find picky is that M was played by Judi Dench. I thought her inclusion as the character in Goldeneye was wonderful and in my opinion she was one of the only saving graces of the following three films, but this being Bond's early years I would have preferred a male M. Moneypenny was also missing from Casino Royale, but something tells me if they make a sequel (Ha! If...) she'll come into play then.

One big problem that I had with the movie is that it seemed to go on too long after the 'climax', which to me would be the end of the poker game. Suddenly several more plot threads are tossed in the viewer's lap and we have to sit through another half hour of the movie with no clue what's going on and end up watching the aforementioned crumbling building scene with brand new villains that seemingly come out of nowhere. Something I was a big fan of, however, was the opening scene before the 'shooting down the barrel' shot, which leads into the intro animation. It was very well directed and gave meaning to why Bond does indeed shoot down the barrel, which wasn't necessary but was very cool.

Overall, since Casino Royale is dating back to before Dr. No in the James Bond timeline, even though it's obviously not in the same continuity, I wish the film leaned a bit more toward the Connery installments of the franchise rather than every other flashy action movie that you see today. It was an entertaining watch, but by no means the best Bond yet. Considering that while Dr. No is a great movie and it's sequel From Russia With Love is my favorite Bond film to date, here's hoping there's a sequel to Casino Royale and it's more well-rounded than this one.

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