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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

CASINO ROYALE


Welly welly well. Who’d have thought it would take so long to breathe some life back into the James Bond series? And who’d have thought the director of such an enterprise would be Martin Campbell, a guy whose films I’ve rarely been mildly excited about? I tell you it’s happened. Surely for the last decade (some would say three) the series had been on life support, occasionally kicked in the pants with a new leading man or shocked awake with the burgeoning CGI effects of the 90’s, which quickly deteriorated into an “Am I watching a video game?” kind of experience….well, Casino Royale is about to pull the plug on that nonsense. The producers have definitely gotten back on track, maybe going back to the original Ian Fleming novel of the same name was really what was needed.

I’ve never read any of Fleming’s novels, but I do know that Hollywood did soften Bond up a bit. After Connery’s Bond shoots an assailant in cold blood in Dr. No, that was the last we’d see of any grit for quite a while. Campbell’s Casino Royale seems to be calling upon that brutality for a little inspiration. The fight sequences are stripped down and messy, the killing is sloppy, and the newly-crowned Bond, Daniel Craig, has a face that is weathered and hardened and conveys brilliantly the hardness of heart and mind that is needed for a man to kill as easily as Bond does. Craig at least “looks” like he can do the stuff James Bond does, and it helps. Bond fans who grew up with Roger Moore and his successors might find some of it a little shocking, but it will all work out in the end.

I must say I was a bit worried after the fairly prosaic credit sequence and much anticipated but highly forgettable Chris Cornell song was through, but I sat tight, and the story reeled me in. I hadn’t been that into a Bond film since I was a wee lad. And I’m, well, not a wee lad any longer. Dare I say I’m already looking forward to the next one, and I must also say it is mostly due to the new Bond himself -- Daniel Craig. He might have been born to play the part. Lucky bastard...