Casino Royale (2006)

Reid, 20. July 2007, 15:44

8/10

That’s a pretty high score isn’t it? I’ll go into why that is later, but first let me make some comments about what I think others would think. (I already know that Don thought it was just OK.) I think Penny, Mitchell and Grace would like this film, although I’m not sure they would like it as much as me. I think Kevin, Chris and Tony would find this worthwhile, at least as a somewhat effective diversion. I will say that if you don’t like the other Bond, you might want to give this a shot.

***
In music, I really love when musicians approach original material with a different arrangement or approach, for example, Clapton tranforming “Layla” from a rocking, electric number to a smouldering acoustic one. That’s what I really liked about this film. The filmmakers moved Bond from a cartoon to more a real drama. Yes, there are plenty of action scenes–some of them really good (the initial chase scene–top 10 material, imo) and some of them not so good (the collapsing building). But the characters and the drama between is really the heart of the film.

Whereas the characters in previous Bond films are cartoons, the filmmakers in this film have worked to create realistic characters. Daniel Craig is convincing as a cold-blooded killer, and he is, imo, the best Bond ever. I liked the way they also tried to subtley portray more vulnerable aspects of Bond, such as, the psycholofical effects of killing and his feelings for Vesper.

The dialogue is also well done and once again it’s the acting that brings it to life. I really enjoyed the back-and-forth between Vesper and Bond; it made me think of movies of the 30s and 40s (Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, etc.). While I generally liked Eva Green as Vesper Lind, I thought there could have been a little more chemistry with Craig. Their love for each other could have been more convincing. But that’s a minor concern.

Good action movies have to have a solid villian, and I thought Mads Mikklesens’ Le Chiffre was one of the best in a long time. (Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s villian in MI:3 was very solid; with the right part, he could be a great villian). Mikklesen is like a less cartoonish Christopher Walken. He’s somebody creepy, not in a goofy, almost comical way that Walken’s performances veer into.

So the casting, acting and dialogue are big reasons I gave the film the score I did. I also like this fresh approach to the Bond films. The approach responds to what I often say about action films: develop the characters and story first and then worry about the action scenes and special effects. A lot of the action scenes aren’t that great and they’re not that critical to the film, but the film works because the characters and the story is so solid. This fresh approach to Bond is the thing that bumps this film to an eight for me. Some of you may not care about that, so you may not like the film as much as I did. If you like the Bond films for the cool gadgets, scantily clad bimbos and cool stunts this is not for you. But if you care about good acting, casting, dialogue and story, I think this will provide solid entertainment.

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