Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Casino Royale (2006) - ickleReview (cinema)

Daniel Craig's first Bond film - and possibly one of the franchise's best. Craig is a much harder, colder, more macho Bond than Brosnan, with no campness. Someone said perceptively about this film that it's what Bond would be like if it was real. The baddies in this one are small terrorist groups and the men who finance them. Bond has just been made a double-O agent. In the opening black and white sequence we see his first kill. For once his turn and shoot towards the camera for the opening credits actually means something. The stunts are grittier and more enthralling than usual, including Free Running (Parkours) specialists. I was impressed with the use of technology: the thought of Bond logging into MI6's secure database using M's username and password, the constant use of mobile phones, the tracking chip that is placed in Bond's forearm by his employers to keep track of him, and so on. The gadgets are ones that we all use - except, perhaps, for the DIY defibrilator that he keeps in the glove compartment of his Aston Martin...just in case he has that heart attack.

The Bond girl, Eva Green, is smarter and harder to get than her predecessors. She's the Treasury's representative at the high-stakes poker game he plays in order to smoke out one of the terrorist financiers. I like the way Bond orders a new drink, the way he says he couldn't care less whether his dry Martini is shaken or stirred, the way we see, for once, characters being affected by the deaths around them.

Some people may object to the product placement, but that's what our world looks like nowadays: it would be odd not to see these brandnames. Richard Branson having a cameo out of focus at a security check point at Miama airport is another matter; although I found that quite amusing. I wonder how much he paid.

It's quite a long one (144 minutes), but the plot deserves the treatment. The changes of pace are welcomed and the downtimes are some of the most interesting moments of the film. Bond even thinks he falls in love. (Shades of On Her Majesty's Secret Service...)

Nugget: good to see some fresh ideas and I'm very impressed with the new Bond.

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