Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bond is back - not!

Just back from Casino Royale, the latest James Bond film - or not.

Funny, how although I am not a huge fan, I've somehow seen just about all of them... James Bond films have become such an institution that they've been on TV again and again over the years.

Anyway, back to Casino Royale; it's based on the first Bond book written by Ian Fleming, the one that never made it into film until now. The story is supposed to take place at the beginning of Bond's career and recounts his first mission as a '00. However, it's set in today's world with Albanian terrorists and money laundering in Montenegro.

Perhaps to avoid too many clashes in chronology, the story is not obviously linked to any key political context other than the bad guys being private bankers to terrorists, so the whole film is very much focused on Bond.
But a Bond with none of the
trademark gadgets from Q, no nuclear or satellite bombs to be disarmed, no over-the-top evil villain nor hallmark flirtations with "Bond girls".
Gone is the
refined, suave if slightly macho 007 we were accustomed to. No more sarcastic familiarity and twinkle in the eyes à la Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. In his place is a blond Bond, portrayed by Daniel Craig, who looks like a boxer (not the dog species naturally) and is a violent, ruthless and cold blooded killer (ok, he has a license).
His usual elegance has been replaced by clothes that look like he's walked out of a laundrette without doing the "press" cycle (except for the scenes in the casino). Dialogues with M (throughout) and a fellow spy (opening sequence) are cold and hard, with none of the usual innuendos.

So in the end, although the scenery of Montenegro, Venice and the Lago di Como is fabulous, the stunts impressive and the plot full of somersaults, it's no longer really a James Bond. It's a 2 hour and twenty minute long thriller, with a ruthless and cold-hearted, steal-eyed and brutal secret agent, who after each confrontation and
his enemies dead, is left bruised and bloody, colder and lonelier than ever.

Bond films might have reached the end of their life cycle, but they were different from all the other action/thriller movies. James Bond was the world's most notorious secret agent, and his lines might have been out-dated and sexist, but they were unmistakeably his. Sure, he would punch and fight, but there was nothing gruesome about it. Now with Casino Royale, we might be at the beginning of Bond movies that are just like any other thriller.


Anonymous said...

I think you are fundamentally right!

Although at first, I thought this movie was excellent and positively moving away from the traditional (getting almost ridiculous) Bond movies...I have slightly revised my point of view!

Yes the movie is good, but it could be any action movie, something has gone lost along the way. Indeed, this Bond has lost too much of its original character, spirit and trademark. Hopefully they'll consider this for the next one.

Robert Duncan said...

My name is Robert Duncan and I am the editor of Spero News

We are trying to find bloggers and others who would like to send in items for the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey.

We are planning on creating a mini-site inside Spero News that will allow readers a one-stop read of this important event. The site will allow photos, etc, and rewrites will then be published over Google News, etc.

Would you like to contribute articles?

Thanks for your consideration.

Robert Duncan

wildzeko said...

Here we are!!!!
I am a real Bond fanatic... I must have seen all the Bond Movies almost 50 times.... and from what I know you saw some of them also ... let's say 20 times (yes you did and I can witness it!).
1) Casino Royale (CR) has been on tv and movie twice... once before the 1st Bond Movie - Dr No (actually that's why Broccoli and CO. could not have started with CR... they got the right only in 2001 or smtg). The second time was a pastich made with Ursula Andress, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Orson Wells and Woody Allen (what a cast)....
2) In his books, Ian Flemming description of JB is very close to the one we can have by watching Daniel Craigh or Timothy Dalton... much more than the personification by Roger More, Lazenby or Connery...
3) And no JB is not like another thriller... you are right; no Q ( he was not yet arrived in the MI6 services), no catch up line, no Monney Penny (it's the first time that zhis Bond carachter is missing) IT BUT BUT.... you still have cars (we got to learn how he got his Aston Martin), Martini, Gambling, Sex, Felix Leighter (CIA agent), Murder, Vilain, Tourism (as you noticed... Como, Venezia, Madagascar, Cerna Gora ...) which is a real JB's trade mark, speed. AND .... as usual JB is SAVING the WOLRD... isn't he????

So for me it's really a JB movie and not aother thriller... I also must say that I really liked the acting of Craigh, the pace of the movie (really fast execpt the gambling scene... far too long) and the lovely actresses whose name I don't care to remember ;-)

wildzeko said...

And Robert is right.... do something about my homonym who is visiting Turkey... you are a very good contributor...