By Jeffery Wells
Casino Royale screened this morning in Paris, and I’ve just received this reaction from Parisian film critic Mathieu Carratier, whose opinion I trust because he despised Marie-Antoinette: “The movie is a mess,” he begins. “A sometimes very entertaining and pleasurable mess, but still a mess — a typical example of a badly-produced film. “There’s no focus at all. The other main criticism-that-may-not-be-a- criticism is that you rarely feel you’re watching a ‘Bond film.’ I’m not entirely sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing — it may be both. I do know that it’s partly Bourne redux and partly an old-school Sean Connery revisit (and on that note, dangerously close to an old-school Connery parody at times).
“For the first half, you get Bond doing his best Jack Bauer impersonation fighting a free-running athlete, and then suddenly he’s all tux-and-martini saving the world at a poker table — exciting indeed. The movie seems over, but the screenwriters then decide to pull a Return of the King on us and it drags on forever until a final action scene.
“Daniel Craig is fine, but he’s playing a totally different character from the one we know.” Martin Campbell’s direction is efficient but uninspired, the best shots coming from the second unit directed by Alexander Witt.
“This is a film produced by people who clearly didn’t know what they wanted to do. All you get is an average spy film which, in trying to distance itself from its pedigree, ends up with no pedigree at all.”