King Kong returns: Daniel Craig is back to wreak havoc once more upon the legacy of the Bond franchise. By Lance Berry
Yes, I know...I did say that I'd never see another James Bond film as long as Daniel Craig was playing the role. But friends wanted to see this, peer pressure's a bitch, so what can you do?
You can stay away from Quantum of Solace, is what you can do.
... Yes, this isn't your father's James Bond...but since this is a reboot, then could we stop ripping off dad's Bond? A later scene where a female agent is killed by having her body filled with oil, and leaving her naked body face down on the bed and covered in the inky liquid isn't so much a homage to Goldfinger as it is a dead ripoff. Poor Jeffrey Wright(W., The Invasion) is suckered in once again to play CIA operative Felix Leiter, and again has next to nothing to do. What'll happen in the next film--will we have a large Asian man who throws a bowler hat, but instead of Oddjob, his name will be Dayjob?
..... And that is what the Bond franchise has become: a series desperately trying to reinvent itself as relevant in a Jason Bourne world, while clinging to fragments of its past as a safety blanket to appease older fans.
And in the end, this newly imagined world is definitely not enough.
The best thing about "Quantum of Solace"--the latest James Bond flick--is that the aptly-named villain-in-chief, Dominic Greene, is an environmentalist wacko, a "green" fanatic.
Still, the villain was boring. He doesn't compare to Blofeld (full name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld)--my favorite repeat Bond villain (best played by the late Telly Savalas)--or even Jaws. Not even close.
James Bond is supposed to be fun and casual--a hail fellow well met who is a good sport and doesn't take himself too seriously, even when he's getting the bad guys. But this movie was the exact opposite. It was smothered under the weight of seriousness, revenge themes, and bitterness. Don't get me wrong--I love revenge, a motive and response which is under-rated and over-panned. But I just didn't feel it here. It was empty and stupid.
I wasn't overly thrilled with Craig's debut in "Casino Royale", but I liked this one far less. I now have a better appreciation for "Royale", which really was far more Bondian in tradition, tempo, and demeanor. "Royale" had a discernible, plausible plot and heart-pounding action. This one had lots more action, but it was mostly dull and unexciting action, which left me cold. That's unless you count the scene of Bond repeatedly walking through massive flames of fire, unhurt. That's a "Come on?!" moment that's hard to believe. And while, yes, most Bond movies have stunts that are just not believable, the flamewalker stuff was just blatant in-your-face BS.
There was some great shooting and cool gun scenes. Love those guns--suave men with guns are hottt. But other than that, yaaawn.
And this one was missing even more of what Bond is all about and what makes male moviegoers want to be him and female movie fans want to "date" (euphemism) him: "shaken/not stirred" drinks, sexy women, and cool gadgets. Does our depressed economy translate into a shortage of all of those? Apparently so. While Ian Fleming's written-page Bond was actually not a womanizer, that's not the bachelor (except in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service") Bond we've come to know on-screen. But in "Quantum", Bond has only two women (who are strikingly flatter than General Motors' profits and the main course at IHOP). The cool gadgets? Well, there aren't any. Didn't you hear? Sharper Image went out of bid'ness. And the drinks? Well, "shaken, not stirred" is gone from the Bondian dialogue. I don't remember even hearing the "Bond, James Bond" line.
The one cool thing in the movie was ripped off from "Goldfinger". A Bond girl is found dead in Bond's hotel room covered in black oil. Remember the Bond girl found in a hotel room covered in gold paint? Been there, seen that.
Bottom line: The movie was entertaining and not objectionable. But it just wasn't what we expect from James Bond. Not only wasn't it a great Bond movie. It wasn't even an average one. It was just okay, and--as much as I hate to say it--in terms of a Bond movie, it was sort of mediocre. I love James Bond and James Bond movies. But I don't love "Quantum of Solace." It was just "eh".
Debbie Schlussel is a movie critic for the Sirius Patriot Channel and a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society. Click "Read More..." for the full review Discuss on our forum Read More...
I finally got around to watching Casino Royale a few days ago, having read and heard such rave reviews of both it and the 'new Bond' Daniel Craig, who I'd seen and liked in various television programmes. Now, I know how everyone is saying how good this film is, how Craig is the best Bond ever, yada yada yada, but I'm afraid that I have to come out well on the opposite side. I'm almost tempted to say that this is the worst Bond ever, both in terms of lead actor, plot, opening credits, song - just about everything.
Having spent a considerable amount of time over the years thinking and writing about the Bond legend, I don't mind admitting that I've had a devil of a time since this past November, trying to figure out exactly where Daniel Craig and Casino Royale fit into the almost mythical, iconic James Bond canon. Watching this supposedly radical revamped reboot of the franchise, there are so many instances of back-and-forth "yes, that's right," and "no, that's completely wrong," elements and sequences in the film, that by the end of its exhausting, too-long 144 minute running time, I wasn't exactly entertained as much as I was a nervous wreck. Unfortunately, deep flaws in the conception and execution of Casino Royale keep it from being one of the great works of the Bond filmography. .... The whole movie suffers this way, from a cramped, dark production design that imparts no awe or "gee whiz" appreciation that "Bond look" designer Ken Adam effortlessly achieved (quite a shock here, too, coming from long-time Bond production designer Peter Lamont). Bond is supposed to inhabit a world we will likely never see, a world of luxury that he's not really entitled to enter either, except for the fact that he has a license to kill that grants him entrance to these forbidden pockets of excess. So where is that sense of scope in Casino Royale? It's frankly an ugly film to look at, with little or no sense of style to its lensing or compositions. Again, one gets the feeling that everyone involved didn't want "pretty pictures," that those big sets were somehow artistically "dishonest" in a world that now sees Bond's exploits as outlandish actions that need an apology. What a shame. I'll take the "dishonesty" of Blofeld's volcano lair in You Only Live Twice any day over the depressing, dark, small look of Casino Royale.
CASINO ROYALE (or: A Bond movie that ISN’T a Bond movie…)
A strange thing happens at the end of this torture scene which I won’t reveal to you, just in case you choose to see this movie. It starts a major tilting of the plot, helps to set the love story in motion and begins a downward spiral of the movie’s entire internal logic. Trust me, nearly everything which happens due to the way the torture scene ends will leave you scratching your head about certain suddenly illogical plot points as you leave the theater. There are also several loose threads at the end, which is a cardinal rule no-no in a 007 film. Bond gets the bad guys, gets the girl in the end, case closed.
I know the new trend in films(especially intended or established series) is to leave the ending wide open so you’ll know a sequel is coming…it’s the Pavlovian way of training audiences to set aside money for down the road, so that like good little Borg drones, we’ll all march to the theater 2-3 years hence and dutifully turn over our hard-earned bucks to Big Brother studios. But this is one drone who’s slipped a digital track, ripped out his implants and refuses to conform to the collective consciousness that infests and infects the hive mind. Yes, Casino Royale was a decent movie...but it simply was not, on any level except within referencing the character’s name, a James Bond movie. And while I was able to set aside my misgivings in order to view Daniel Craig in a fair and balanced light, ultimately I find him to be sadly miscast. As long as he is Bond(and if Barbara Broccoli remains at the reins, he will be), I honestly do not see myself ever going to the theater to watch a James Bond movie again.
“Casino Royale”: An Obituary for The James Bond Film Franchise
· Daniel Craig (Bond). Craig’s characterization of Bond is charmless, worthless, and disturbingly nihilistic. At one point in the script, Craig’s Bond responds to a question with “Do I look like I give a damn?” The answer in “Casino Royale” is overwhelmingly NO. Why on earth, then, should the audience care about him? At another point, he tells Vesper “I have no idea what an honest job is.” Is this a credible (or creditable) moral statement to hear from a top-level government secret agent? Craig’s monotonously stoic performance is by no means compensated for by his (atrocious) line readings: he articulates rarely, mumbles often. As a result of Craig’s hollow Bond interpretation, what should have been the film’s ultimate impact moment—007’s “Bond, James Bond” confrontation with villainous Mr. White—is surprisingly anti-climactic, prompting a shrug rather than a cheer from this reviewer.
“Casino Royale” is the highest-grossing Bond film to date. But consider:
* This fact merely indicates the degree of public curiosity about or interest in James Bond and owes virtually everything to the franchise’s longstanding cinematic appeal and reputation (earned by much better films and performances in the series and betrayed dramatically by “Casino Royale”). * This fact confirms nothing about public satisfaction with or approval of this latest installment. * High box-office numbers neither reflect nor establish this film’s merit.
Bond is now played as what Britons would call a yobbo
Daniel Craig is no gentleman at all, only a half-civilized, arriviste thug, straight out of London gangland, if not Borstal itself. His motivation to rise in the ranks of MI6 to the point of becoming that organization’s most conspicuous and short-lived species of cannon fodder seems perfectly mysterious.
But it was depressing to see, fifty years on, just how much the world has grown stupider, shorter of attention span, less critical, and more vulgar. The hero of the mass audience is less the gentleman than ever, and James Bond is now played as what Britons would call a yobbo. I sometimes think that if we could live another century, we would see mankind reduced still further in grandeur and dignity, perhaps to some sort of quadruped.
I hate to buck the trend of those critics who are hailing the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, as a return to form and reinvention of the superhero spy franchise, but I found the film, while technically proficient, overlong and underwhelming. I’m personally disappointed too, being old enough to remember when a new James Bond film was one of the few reliable pleasures of escapist movie going.