The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

My Photo
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Movie Review: Casino Royale

I’ve been a big James Bond fan all my life. Having seen every film in the franchise, I can tell you with absolute confidence that Casino Royale is the best Bond movie ever made!

To start with, the script is delightfully good. Penned by Canadian Paul Haggis (Crash; Million Dollar Baby), the story is rich with character and emotions. As a result, this is a much darker film than any previous Bond flick. Dark, gritty, with lots of feelings. It reminds me of Batman Begins, another movie that hearkens to the early days of the protagonist, also in dark and gritty tones. Do I detect a pattern emerging from Hollywood?

This is a Bond unlike any other that came before. He lives up to his professional status as Her Majesty’s Secret Service assassin. He kills in cold blood. He looks for all the world like an ordinary man, not even a particularly handsome man (his nose is rather large, his ears are like Prince Charles’, his head reminds me of a mantis head). If not for his incredible physique (which puts even Sean Connery’s to shame), it’s difficult to see his attraction to women. Perhaps it’s his ruggedness and assertiveness that confers on him a sort of je ne sais quoi. At any rate, Daniel Craig pulls it off as a very convincing James Bond.

The story is based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel of the same name which follows Bond’s ascension to double-oh status within MI6. This was before the vodka martini that is shaken, not stirred. Before the pimped-out Aston Martin ride. Before the fancy gadgetry from the genius of Q. Before his cold-hearted womanizing. Before his flirting with Moneypenny.

Bond’s mission is to “turn” an international financier of terrorists by cleaning him out at a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro. By bankrupting this man, named Le Chiffre, MI6 hopes that the threat of torture and death at the hands of Ugandan thugs will force him to seek refuge with MI6 and help them in the war on terrorism.

A fine example of how this film departs from the usual Bond formula is a scene where Bond is stripped naked and tortured (having his genitalia pummelled). Now I know that in the last Bond film, Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan was also tortured. But there, the torture was not graphically displayed as it is here (no, we don’t see his genitalia but boy do we feel the torture!). The scene reminds me of how George Clooney was tortured in Syriana.

The movie also brings us very close to the person that is James Bond. He suffers great emotional loss and Daniel Craig displays this extremely well. This makes Craig the best thespian of all the actors who have played the role. (Sorry, Sean!)

But for those who hanker for the previous Bond movies, we still have some of the great Bond elements. Two Aston Martins are featured, including the brand new (and gorgeous!) DBS. We have two excellent Bond women. Judi Dench returns as M (most would not mention Judi Dench, but for me her presence adds a lot to the film). The exotic locales and beautiful photography are here too. And, of course, we have lots of great action.

Before Casino Royale, my favourite Bond was Sean Connery. He defined the role. He looked the part. But now I have to say, Daniel Craig is a better Bond. With Craig, the franchise has been given new life, new energy. It’s a fresh beginning and I am very impressed.

This is one of my very favourite movies of the year. It may well be one of the year’s biggest box office hits. And that would be well-deserved.


Post a Comment

<< Home