Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Review: Casino Royale (2006)

I didn’t think I’d like it but I liked it. Call it the magic of lowered expectations. I also needed to see a movie where I could get out of my head, where I wouldn’t have to think, where I wouldn’t have to reflect on or evaluate my life. I thought a little about why I like James Bond—why anyone likes James Bond—or perhaps why any women like James Bond. Of course, he’s sexy and mysterious. He travels the world, is stylish, suave and masculine. All attractive qualities. But I identify with James Bond, not with the Bond girls. I want to be that sexy, stylish spy who travels the world and makes love without breaking hearts, leaving only satisfied, grateful partners in my wake. Ah, that’s the life.

Casino Royale is an origin story, which tend to be the best. It’s cold, brutal and action-packed. The titles were not the greatest but they were refreshingly free of naked ladies (sorry fellas). In fact, there’s damn little sex in this picture and more than enough violence. One of the first chase scenes is actually conducted on foot and is astonishing, exciting and completely held my attention. It contrasted the gymnastic agility of the “bad” guy with the brutish more direct approach of Bond. Perfect set up and was exceptionally fun to watch. In general, the action in this picture was more realistic than I’ve seen for a while—it’s more about the physicality of the actors (and stuntmen) and less about CGI effects.

Eva Green plays the female foil for James and I liked what she did. I did not buy her British accent (good reason for that: she’s French) but I did buy her repressed sexiness. (I would also like to air my on-going issue with casting: Eva Green is twelve years younger than Daniel Craig. What gives?)

I liked Craig as Bond. He was rugged and not too refined and very physical. He was cold and brutal, witty and sneering. His wisecracking fell a little flat—he is better on the move. Still, he is a Bond I could get used to.

Grateful for: a new Bond.

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