Casino Royale

november 19, 2006

I caught the matinee showing of Casino Royale this morning and I must say: This is a fantastic Bond film. It is almost inevitable that a parallel be drawn between the Bond and Batman film series. Why? Because last year, the Batman franchise was "rebooted" with Batman Begins -- and what an exciting restart it was for Batman. Now, we have a reboot of the Bond franchise and again, it is an exciting restart. The Batman series started off rooted in fantasy, gadgets, and turned almost into a parody of itself. When Batman Begins came around, all of that was erased. Batman was reset and made more "real" and put into a real-world. Just like Batman Begins, Casino Royale gets grounded back into reality. Gone are the fantasy and gadgets (where's Q? Who cares!) With spies like xXx, Ethan Hunt and Jason Bourne nipping at Bond's tail, Casino Royale is a welcome reset to the Bond franchise. My previous doubts about director Martin Campbell are gone. He has done a fantastic job with Casino Royale. The best thing he did for the film? He shot most of the stunts and action sequenes real-for-real. There is a visceral feel to all the action sequences and that feeling can only be explained by the fact that Campbell chose to forego fancy computer generated special effects. The film is well shot and very exciting because of this. The actors and stunt people look like they got a pretty good workout in this film. The best part of Casino Royale? It is easily Daniel Craig. He may not look like any of the previous Bonds, but he certainly channels Bond very well. And he is a damned good actor to boot. Plus, he has the physique to go with the action role. Craig puts the best of Connery's Bond with the charm of Brosnan's Bond together. He even has some good comedic timing. Does he beat out Connery as the best Bond? No, but he is damned close. He is cruel, charming, and sometimes plain scary. Big Kudos to Daniel Craig. I hope to see him in many more Bond films! The story follows Bond as he tracks a money launderer who cries tears of blood. The story had enough story behind it to keep me engaged. The dialogue was sharp and well-written. The only thing that was a drag was the card game. I think it could have been cut down a bit and that would have made the movie run a bit faster than the current two hour 24 minutes running time. The card game is not that bad, but still, it is a bit boring and slows down the film. Other than that, the story makes sense and it is rooted in reality -- there are no out-of-the-world craziness in it (no death rays from space, stealth boats, or EMP blasts). Here are some notes that I want to throw out. It was painful to see Bond driving a Ford. That was terrible. Look for Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines, Virgin Megastores, Virgin Mobile) at the airport security checkpoint. It was great to see Bond in an Aston Martin. It was bad to see the Aston Martin tore up like that. I know Sony financed this film, but come on! There was product placement out the wazoo...VAIO notebooks, Sony LCDs, SonyEricsson phones...That really tainted the film a bit. Anyways, awesome film. If you are a Bond fan or even just an action film fan, this one is worth the watch. The opening chase sequence was fantastic. The Aston Martin chase scene was a bit too brief for me. But, overall fantastic film. Craig is a brilliant Bond!