The Movie Buffer

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Casino Royale


Small spoilers, shaken not stirred


This is the latest in a slowly declining franchise, which hopes to “reboot” the series and re-invent Bond as more uncontrollable, rough around the edges secret agent rather than the sly Bond of the past. Bond flicks do well at the box office but the leaps and bounds in production costs have hurt the series(When they began there were eight movies in ten years and if you add the budgets of those eight you get a third of what Casino Royale cost [est. 150 mil]).

Martin Campbell, who directed GoldenEye, takes the reigns as director of this film and his experience with the characters really shows. The story moves along at a good pace and even at two hours the movie never gets bogged down. The story is rather straight forward, a criminal organization has something that MI6 needs, they send 007 to retrieve it, things get complicated by the female lead and Bond a saves the day. There are a few hiccups along the way: Instead of having a car chase sequence, the director opted for a footrace, which just drags on an on, the only spy gadget bond has in this film is his car which only gets used once, and by the end of the movie, the stone faced reaction shots of Bond do get very repetitive, nearly to the point of laughter.

If you have problems with aggressive product placement in films, then avoid this movie. The main benefactors in this film, Ford and Sony, are all over the place. Bond drives a Ford Mondeo during the opening sequence, he hacks around MI6 database with the new Sony Vaio, and Sony Handy-cams, digi-cams and cell phones are in everyone’s pockets.

Most of the film is set in Montenegro, but being an international man of mystery, Bond bounces from Madagascar to the Bahamas, from Miami to Venice. The locations are as gorgeous and opulent as expected, with only the most lavish environments and toys for Bond to play with.

Though there has been much controversy around the selection of Daniel Crag (as seen in Munich and Road to Perdition), he does embody the classic stern gaze and womanizing attitude that bond requires. So what was the big deal? I don’t know. I guess it’s because he’s blonde. As Bond’s Nemesis, Mads Mikkelsen plays, Le Chiffre, who launders money for crime syndicates by playing the stock market and entering poker tournaments. Le Chiffre is a target of MI6 because of his intimate knowledge of the most notorious criminals around the globe, so Bond is called in to recover him for questioning.

The “Bond Girls” in this film are Eva Green, who plays tragically named Vesper Lynd, and Caterina Murino, who plays Solange, the wife of a terrorist who is part of Le Chiffre’s money laundering crew. Both women carry on the tradition very well, though Green plays a slightly more sophisticated and intelligent character than was expected.

I’m giving this move a 6/10 or 2.5 our of 5 stars because the acting was pretty good all around, the brash impulsive new Bond was interesting to watch, and the story with the few twists it had was rather good. On the downside, some of the reaction shots were laughable, the chase scenes were on foot and far too long and where are the all the delightful toys?

Like the other movies in the series, the viewer needs to accept a few dubious flubs and outrageous situations, the crowd I saw it with was rather pleased by the film and I heard many people say that this movie should have a sequel made (which is on the way, opening in 2008).


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