Casino Royale – worst Bond picture ever?

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.

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Casino Royale – worst Bond picture ever?
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.

Let’s start with the plot, which to be fair doesn’t really exist in the book. Bond plays cards against the bad guy, wins, gets tortured, wins the day; that’s it. It’s hard to make an exciting film out of that. Moreover, Bond is really very nasty in the book, much more so than they’ll ever be able to show on screen – the idea of Bond considering the ‘sweet tang of rape’ for example is just not on, is it. Yet in the novel he not only dislikes women, he hates them, there is no doubt about it at all. They exist for one reason only, which is to provide men with sexual entertainment. The novel is poorly written, very short and quite tedious; many of the 007 elements you expect are not included – no Moneypenny, Q or DB5 for example. So it’s a difficulty for the producers, I’ll grant.

However, whatever else he is in the book, he’s not an ignorant thug, which is how Craig plays him. Bond got a double first at Oxford, was a naval Commander and an acomplished gambler. As played in the film he would have been rather more at home on a council estate beating up old ladies for their pensions. Admittedly Bond makes errors of judgement – rather too many, but as a newly qualified 00 this isn’t that surprising, but he was at least sophisticated about it. The Craig version with the sequence at the start of the film chasing the terrorist, while quite exciting, lacks much of the panache of Bond, resorting to trying to steamroller his way to a victory. The idea that the ‘love interest’ would find it necessary to purchase a properly fitting tuxedo for him is, I’m afraid, quite laughable.

Craig shows only two emotions while playing Bond – one being grumpy and the other one being everything else. I suspect that it is this that’s got so many people excited – he’s certainly a different type of Bond to any that have gone before him, but in this instance a change isn’t as good as a rest; very far from it I’m afraid. He’s just seen as being a rather stupid thug, and while Bond is many things, even at the start of his career he was never that.

However, I’m sure that Craig will go on to reprise the role several more times, hopefully rather more accurately, though since this version appears to have scored critical acclaim I rather doubt it. I suspect that we’re stuck with Simpson, Homer Simpson as our lead for a few years yet. Of course, if we’re starting out on a new time line, as it would seem that we are, with Bond regenerating like some strange Dr Who, perhaps we’ll be starting back from book one, and can now run through them all again.

Modesty Blaise anyone? We’ve only had (I think) one film of her, and I’d love to see a rather better version hitting the screen, and if she ever did, the Craig Bond would have to pray he never meets up with her.

 

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