FILM : Casino Royale - Bond Restart


As a big James Bond fan (..quite big), I excitedly anticipate the opening of a new 007 flick, but having read Casino Royale (..the only Ian Fleming's novel I read), and upon hearing that the filmmakers were going to adhere to the content of Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, I was a little anxious.

Casino Royale is an excellent spy thriller, but very vicious in content, which runs contrary to the escapist fun we mostly expect in a James Bond movie, and therefore, for some this will take a little getting used to. The filmmaker decided to push the reset button in the manner of Batman Begins – and it was a very good move indeed. Reinventing James Bond as a kind of crazy, ruthless army officer with an attitude problem, Casino Royale turns out to be cracking good entertainment, as well as a fresh start for the perdurable 21-picture franchise.

Casino Royale has many plus points which make it one of the better Bond films that have come to the big screen. First thing first. Daniel Craig – I was skeptical at first, I admit. (read my post here). But after watching Casino Royale I seriously think the filmaker had selected a guy who is actually physically and personality wise, fitting of an assassin. Yes, people, FYI in Ian Fleming's novel, James Bond is a cold-blooded assasin. Also Craig is an actor’s-actor and can masterfully convey emotion without words and through mere stares with his piercing eyes. He may not be as pretty as Pierce Brosnan before him, or as witty as Roger Moore but Craig does portray Ian Fleming’s Bond more closely with rugged looks, and he looks like a guy who could snap your head off if you rubbed him the wrong way. Maybe it's an echo from his roles in Munich and Infamous, but Craig makes one very scary Bond. I would not want to get on his bad side. He uses his license to kill repeatedly and decisively, and he isn't all that stylized about it, either; he's bloody and mean. (Seemingly he is the first Bond to actually bleed real blood!)

The first half of Casino Royale is full of happy surprises. The Bond trademarks are all there, but in the script they’re rearranged to catch you off guard. The opening bit with 007 firing into the gun sight and the blood running down the frame is cunningly delayed. "Shaken, not stirred" gets a twist of something acid (..and funny). "Bond. James Bond" is saved for a special moment. The villain is not the usual Blofeld-like wannabe world dominator but a financier called Le Chiffre whose milky eye weeps blood. He’s bloodcurdling.

The dialogue in this film is far superior to many of its recent predecessors, perhaps due to the addition of Paul Haggis to the writing team, making the popular 'one-liners' seem to actually flow well for a change.

The action sequences are back to standards under the helm of Director Martin Campbell. Campell, has re-inserted gritty and precise hand-to-hand combat sequences, amazing chase sequences, and off-set those heavy punching elements with bright-colored backdrops and settings that are all classic Bond. The chase in and around an African construction site, a fight aboard a runaway fuel truck on an airport tarmac, a shootout in a collapsing Venice, Italy, canal building and a grueling torture sequence -- emphasize the physicality of the stunt work rather than special effects.

The Bond girl this time is Vesper Lynd played convincingly by the beautiful and sexy Eva Green, a female counterpart to Bond -- cool, calculating, untrusting but drawn to sexual adventure if it comes packaged to suit her whim. Their exchanges contain none of the usual tired double entendres but rather sharp dialogue as the two suss each other out.

The gorgeous Green pulls off the mix of Vesper's beauty, smarts and conflicted emotional state well - a throwback to the beauties of the Hitchcock era in some ways. More importantly though, and it's something so rare to see these days in these films, the pair share a real chemistry which works extremely well and gets a healthy amount of screen time to shine. Their verbal jousting, moments of tenderness and eventual outcome all flow with a nice sense of old romanticism.

I got to talk about the theme song. Chris Cornell can do no wrong, man. I heard it once and I simply loved it. ‘You Know My Name’ is a rocking tune but with a touch of the classic Bond theme with it’s heavy orchestral feel. Cornell’s voice is as silky smooth as ever. It’s my new favourite Bond theme.

My complaints - the story does spend just a tad too long in its third act indulging in those romantic moments between Bond and Vesper and Bond eventual falling for her never quite feels entirely genuine (thus robbing the ending of some emotional impact). Clocking in a good 30 minutes too long, the first hour is filled with good scenes but quite a few that add up to ultimately little. The moments of action in the second act feel far better incorporated into the story, making the early set pieces somewhat awkward and out of place no matter how elaborate they are. Similarly a scene towards the end set around a collapsing building in Venice allows for a great setting, but is too much for what should be a more underplayed moment.

The torture sequence (which came directly from the original novel, not just thrown in to appeal to people who enjoy violence and gore) is heavily edited by our beloved LPF, but still I really think that it is quite too much for our youngsters. I could see one or two parents taking their kids out of the cinema hall during that scene, so I suggest that parents; leave your kids at home.

The one or two bum notes can't stop the fact that Casino Royale is simply a great film, one of the best in the long-running series and one that returns James Bond to the top of the heap. The jury's still out on whether Craig will challenge Sean Connery for the title of the best Bond ever, but for a first effort in the role he's showing great promise. The film completely justifies its Batman Begins style restart approach, though the early calls of 'best Bond ever' are an over exaggeration. Lets hope the inevitable sequels keep this more character and story rather than action driven approach going for at least a little while. Bond is back and better than he has been in a very long time.

So excuse myself, while I go watch my Dreamers DVD, my 10pm channel 42 marathon of Bond movies, while listening to the new rockin' Bond theme. The Bond fever is back ladies and gentleman!

18 comments:

  1. SAIF said...
     

    ur reveiw is awesome.thx for such a nice reveiw.

  2. Iron Board said...
     

    betul tu dahsyat la...
    segala aspek kau cover...

    mmg many skeptical about daniel craig, tapi the moment they announce him, aku rasa he's the right choice. Tgk mukanya yg klasik tu pun dah cukup. Bond don't have to be a pretty faces like Pierce. Lagipun tgk lakonan dia dlm Layer Cake dan Munich pun mmg dah nampak gayanya...

  3. Edd Vedder said...
     

    thanks saif, IB..

    Seriously, ko kena tgk citer ni kalau ko minat Bond. Rasa mcm tgk a very good spy thriller in the line of the Jason Bourne series.

  4. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    Buat pertama kali (aku rasa), kau totally betul, Edd. This is a great movie. Not just as a Bond film, but a great fucking motion picture on its own. Aku almost takde doubt dengan Craig dari dulu lagi, tapi laaa ni aku harap dia 2 kali ganda lagi tua supaya dia boleh Bond since Dr. No.

    Man, aku nak tgk lagi, dan lagi, dan lagi, dan lagi, dan lagi.

    P/S: Bwahah! Aku tgk kat S'pore minggu lepas. Takde potong langsung despite rated PG. God bless Lee Kuan Yew!

  5. Zack said...
     

    Halah, kalau kau beli DVD haram pun takde potong la, NM. God bless Ah Long cetak rompak!

  6. Edd Vedder said...
     

    "..Buat pertama kali (aku rasa), kau totally betul, Edd."

    - jadi selama ni ko berlakon setuju ngan opinion aku la. Shitt.

    Aku rasa mcm nak tgk lagi Casino Royale ni. Tunggu DVD aja la.. buat masa sekarang biar aku layan Dreamers.. hehe.

    Yeah zack.. God bless Ah Long cetak rompak!!

  7. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    Kau banyak kali betul, Edd, cuma kali kau TOTALLY betul.

  8. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    Cis, baru aku perasaan...

    "The dialogue in this film is far superior to many of its recent predecessors, perhaps due to the addition of Paul Haggis to the writing team..."

    LANCAAAUUU!!!

  9. Edd Vedder said...
     

    hahaha..
    aku tunggu aja bila ko nak perasan sentence tu. Don't u agree bitch?

  10. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    Try tengok The Last Kiss la, brader – the worst film of the year. Then, you will definitely agree with ME.

  11. Edd Vedder said...
     

    The Last Kiss with Rachel Bison & Lauren Lee Smith? Lum tgk lagi.. But since ada Lauren Lee Smith, aku akan tgk walaupun worst film of the year.. hehe.

    It's a remake kan.. Maybe Haggis couldn't do much about it. hehe.

    BTW, kalau nk tgk the best of Lauren Lee Smith, sila cari cerita 'Lie With Me'. Damn..!

  12. bicaraskrip said...
     

    edd,
    gua buh komen ini TANPA mbaca rebiu kat atas tuh! (hampehh tak?) >> motif?? >> gua Xnak sakit ati kot2 rebiu gua hampeh compare dgn lu pnya!..

    so gua invite lu baca rebiu gua gak & kasi komen lu!...

    btw, gua tgh print & nk go-tru posting lu ni smbil isap rokok! huhu! nnti gua komen agi! (apa yg lu ckp ni ajami????)

  13. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    Kau ada "Lie With Me?"

  14. Edd Vedder said...
     

    yes nazim..

    aku ada Lie With Me tapi dalam versi Spanish, cover-art German, dan tanpa subtitles. But of course, what really matters is the visual, not the language.

    ..hehe.

  15. zan's said...
     

    Tumpang lalu...
    Citer ni aku tak tengok lagi pasal aku bukan follower Bond (tapi The Dreamers dah lama tngk..Superb Eva!..hehe) Tapi soundtrack Bond yang baru ni aku dah dapat..(tima kasih DawaiLimau).. Untuk kali kedua Chris Cornell nyanyi lagu soundtrack selepas "Great Expectation". Muzik memang class..Citer? No comment..

  16. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    "But of course, what really matters is the visual..."

    Pervert.

  17. Zack said...
     

    Zan, aku suka gila lagu Cornell dalam Great Expectation- Lady You Roof Brings Me Down. Sexay!

  18. zan's said...
     

    Alamak..
    Aku tak tau lak Cornell ade nyanyi 2 lagu dalam great expectation..Aku cuma tau lagu sunshower je..Nak kena carik n download ni..hehehe. Thanks Zack

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