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Royale Flush? More Like a Pair of Deuces


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Pros
relationship between Bond and M

Cons
writing, violence and gore instead of cleverness, edgy and dark Bond, Felix Leiter

The Bottom Line
I wanted to like Casino Royale, but unfortunately the movie didn’t provide much to like.

Special thanks to “Skywalker”
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Royale Flush? More Like a Pair of Deuces
Nov 17 ’06 (Updated Nov 17 ’06)

Author’s Product Rating

Bang For The Buck

Pros
relationship between Bond and M

Cons
writing, violence and gore instead of cleverness, edgy and dark Bond, Felix Leiter

The Bottom Line
I wanted to like Casino Royale, but unfortunately the movie didn’t provide much to like.

Full Review
Bond, James Bond. Ever since Sean Connery first uttered those words the whole world’s been hooked on 007. Whether it’s the breathtakingly dangerous complex stunts or the scantily clad beautiful women or the glimpse of the good life or the many layers of intrigue to sort through or all of the above, Bond provides something for everyone to enjoy. But how did it all start? What was our intrepid hero like as a young man just awarded a license to kill? Find out in Casino Royale.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is granted 00 status and almost immediately gets in trouble for following a man into an embassy and killing him there. The protection of an embassy is one of the few truly inviolate international laws. Besides, MI6 needed him alive, needed information about an international terrorist ring they couldn’t get anywhere else. A furious M tells Bond to go off somewhere and think about whether he’s really prepared to be an elite agent. Bond winds up in the Bahamas.

He didn’t choose Nassau for the sun and sand, although they were certainly pleasant side effects. No, unbeknownst to M James is following the trail of the terrorists. He soon finds himself embroiled in high stakes poker and even higher stakes chases as he tries to stop the terrorists and dry up their funding at the same time. That’s a tall order for one man, even a man with Bond’s skills.

Despite effectively being the Bond origin story, Casino Royale is set in the post 9/11 world with all of the concerns and technology we live with on a daily basis. Sure, some of it’s extended a little, but for the most part this is a world filled with cell phones and wireless internet and few extra frills beyond that. You won’t find any whizbang new Bond gadgets here.

You also won’t find a suave, urbane leading man. Craig’s Bond is edgier than his predecessors, more violent and more focused on killing the bad guys and getting the job done. I can see some potential for Craig to be a good Bond, but not unless the character is written more true to form.

There are scantily clad women – this is still a Bond flick – but this James sees them as tools and the means to an end without any of the genuine interest and playfulness we’ve come to expect when it comes to his lady friends.

That playfulness is saved almost exclusively for M (Judi Dench). Cat and mouse games abound as James goes out of his way to showoff just how clever he is whenever possible, exasperating M. In some ways it comes across as insecurity on the part of Bond, but regardless this is the only relationship in the movie that really works.

One relationship that really disappoints is that of Bond and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). Leiter comes across as a bit of a bufoon, he and Bond have no chemistry whatsoever and, to add insult to injury, Leiter just disappears without a trace when logically he should be rescuing James from a tight fix. Unless he’s the most idiotic CIA agent ever he had to know at least some of what was going on yet he did nothing.

No Bond film would be complete without a few outrageously dangerous and inventive chase scenes. It’s traditional that each movie start with just such an event before the opening credits and that at least one or two more pop up during the course of the rest of the action. Unfortunately Casino Royale chose to break with this tradition. The opening sequence shows the violent, gory assassination Bond performed to earn his wings as a 00 agent. There is one fairly decent on-foot chase scene on cranes, through several construction sites, and along a variety of rooftops of different heights fairly early in the film, but otherwise the movie relies on some traditional car chases and blood and guts fight scenes for its action. This, more than anything else, ruined the movie.

I wanted to like Casino Royale, but unfortunately the movie didn’t provide much to like. Craig might be a decent Bond when handed a good script that understands who Bond is, but the character here doesn’t cut it. Felix Leiter was a disgrace, the women don’t provide any light relief at all, and the filmmakers substituted violence and gore for the trademark clever action sequences.

You might find the transplanting of a young Bond to modern times with the most recent M a bit difficult to swallow if you’re a purist or someone who cares about continuity across a series. It didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, but it was definitely a distraction. Keeping the original timeframe for the story might have also solved or at least aided some of the other problems; for instance, today’s normal technology would easily pass for yesterday’s cutting edge whizbang gadgets. Alas, it was not to be.

I’m not going to stop any Bond fan from seeing Casino Royale nor would I really want to do so. However, other than the relationship between Bond and M and a very few stray bits of almost witty dialogue, the movie fails in almost every way. Unless you just have to see this now, now, now either wait for the DVD or, if you can make yourself do so, skip it entirely. Casino Royale played for high stakes and went bust.

Recommended:
No

Movie Mood: Action Movie
Worst Part of this Film: Script

Special thanks to “Skywalker”
Click Here To Discuss This In Our Forum

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