BluRay/DVD Reviews

CASINO ROYALE

By • Mar 13th, 2007 •

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2006

Simply giving a guy a big gun, an Aston Martin and Dame Judi Dench as his boss doesn’t make him James Bond.

I’m in the minority here I know, but I didn’t like it. I’m a Bond fan. I’ve seen all the movies many times, and I’ve read all the books many times and I consider myself a Bond aficionado – and I didn’t like it. There are things Bond, and Bond movies, must have and do to be Bond, and this guy, and this movie, just hasn’t got any of them.

Sure he’s ruthless, dispassionate and tough as a paid killer should be, but so was Jason Bourne. It can be no coincidence that Robert Ludlum called his amnesiac trained assassin Jason Bourne – JB right? It even sounds like Sean Connery’s pronunciation of ‘James Bond’. Has the Bond franchise been bullied into hardening up the character to compete with the Bournes, Ethan Hunts and XXXs of the cinematic world? I can see the need to compete, but not to the extent of compromising the character. Don’t they realise that all the others are just wannabe Bonds? They’re trying to reach his level, so why make it easy by dropping down to theirs?

The producers would have us believe that this is a new Bond. ‘Forget the past’ they say. But how can we? I’ve often said that Bond should go back to its roots and be started all over again afresh, it needed to and this was their golden opportunity, but they’ve done it half-heartedly and made a hash of it.

It’s already established in the Bond timeline that Bond is the veteran agent (no matter who played him), that he’s been married (Lazenby wed in OHMSS, but the relationship was also referred to in OCTOPUSSY and LICENCE TO KILL, Moore and Dalton movies respectively), and that Judi Dench’s ‘M’ is the newcomer. Now we are to believe that she is the veteran ‘M’ and Bond is the newly promoted agent. If this is supposedly a new Bond, why is she even there? She links the character with the previous movies. Having a completely new ‘M’, a gruff Bernard Lee type, also would have helped enormously, Dame Judi’s presence just screws it up.

As to Bond himself, Daniel Craig, no matter how gifted an actor, is NOT Bond. The character is clearly defined and described in the books, and Craig just does not fit in any respect. The obvious starter is the fact that Bond as described is definitely not blonde. He certainly doesn’t look like an ex-boxer. So, is this ‘Ian Fleming’s James Bond’ as claimed in the credits, or is it now ‘Micheal G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli’s James Bond’? Also this is supposed to be a younger Bond at the beginning of his 00 career. Can any of you really tell me that Craig looks appreciably younger than Brosnan?

Yes, Bond is a hired killer, and as I said earlier, ruthless, dispassionate, cruel even, but he’s also handsome (sorry Daniel), suave, sophisticated, well educated, well heeled, has good tailors and knows his food and his drinks. He has to in order to mix in the circles in which he may find himself. Bond would never respond to the question ‘Shaken or stirred sir?’ with ‘Do I look like I give a ****’. Bond was often shaken, but never stirred. James Bond was also an accomplished bullshitter. If you’ve ever read ‘The Book of Bond – Every Man his own 007’, supposedly written by ‘M’s Chief of Staff, and Bond’s friend, Bill Tanner, but actually written by Kingsley Amis, you will find examples from the books to illustrate that if Bond doesn’t know something he deftly makes up something, based on his experience, intelligence and education I hasten to add, totally feasible and believable in order to maintain his aura of total infallibility. Still bullshit all the same, but never, EVER would he allow himself to appear to be a simple thug (unless it suited his purposes of course). This is what makes him James Bond and the character that all other movie spies have aspired to since the franchise began. Think of all the characters, movies and TV series Bond has inspired: The Man from UNCLE, The Avengers, Mission Impossible and yes, even Jason Bourne, in fact any spy character created since 1962’s DR. NO you can guarantee the creator has had James Bond at the back of his mind. If they can’t BE James Bond, they counter James Bond with characters like Harry Palmer, David Callan or Alec Leamas, or they spoof James Bond with Derek Flint, Matt Helm and Austin Powers (though how you can spoof something that was a spoof in the first place…). Bond also doesn’t live in this world, and trying to make him a part of the real world just doesn’t work. Bond lives in an exotic world, a world some of us wish we could be a part of, but our only link is through the screen. I don’t go to see a Bond movie expecting reality, human frailty, serious drama – I want to see James Bond!

It’s been famously said that Bond is the man most men want to be and the man most women want to be with. There’s a magic, a surrealism to Bond, and this movie just hasn’t got it. It’s a good movie, but it’s not a Bond movie.

Craig’s character, and I mean that quite pointedly, states at the end of the movie that ‘The name’s Bond. James Bond’. Well, sorry, but no it isn’t. It could be anybody. Maybe it was just put in to remind us what, and who, we were watching, either way it’s killed my future interest in the franchise.

Bond creator Ian Fleming’s friend and neighbour in Jamaica, Noel Coward, was asked to portray Dr. No in the first Bond movie, to which he replied ‘No, no, no!’. I now echo those remarks. So does that mean that this new revamp of Bond was the Coward’s way out? Sorry.

Such a shame.

VICTORIA’S CASINO ROYALE REVIEW


DVD Features:
Becoming Bond – featurette
James Bond For Real – featurette
Bond Girls Are Forever – featurette
Chris Cornell music video


Directed by Martin Campbell
Writing credits: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis – screenplay.
Ian Fleming – novel.

Cast:
Daniel Craig: James Bond
Eva Green: Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelse: Le Chiffre
Judi Dench: M
Jeffrey Wright: Felix Leiter
Richard Branson: Man at Airport Security (uncredited)
Michael G. Wilson: Chief of Police (uncredited)

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