As a rule, James Bond flicks don’t usually look like they’ve been shot by Carol Reed. But that’s exactly the impression given by Casino Royale, opening with a grainy black and white prologue, featuring 007 beating the shit outta some guy in the bogs. The hapless fellow must have used the last loo roll, poor blighter.
Yes, welcome to the much-vaunted back to basics Bond, which means, in real terms, lots of fights in enclosed areas (a la the Bourne franchise), a dodgy theme tune (a la Die Another Day) and Daniel Craig getting repeatedly whacked in the bollocks by a baddie swinging some rope (a la… well, we don’t think we’ve ever seen that one before).
Granted, the aforementioned torture scene is, for the most part, played for rather macabre yuks, but it’s still a lot grittier than we’ve come to expect. The film even seems to echo our uncertain times, with one shadowy villain quickly being replaced by another. Indeed, despite M (an excellent Judi Dench) harping on about how Bond should see the bigger picture, the audience are left to their own devices to work out what the hell is going on.
Craig’s Bond is a triumph and certainly seems to be closest to what Ian Fleming imagined – eschewing the disco vicar innuendo and convenient gadgets for a cold stare and some pretty impressive parkour athletics. In fact, he is a lot more convincing here than he ever was in his supposed ‘straight’ roles (see Enduring Love and Road To Perdition) and only flounders when called upon to get all whey-faced and simpering in the romantic subplot.
Also, props go to director Martin Campbell, who turns in his best-ever work with some deceptively simple direction. Hell, he even makes the card games (see how much we know about gambling!) seem interesting.
In short, Casino Royale is fantastic. After this year’s limp-dick Superman, clawless X-Men and all at sea Pirates, it’s great to find we can once again turn to Bond for our alpha male kicks. Well, Bond and David Gest.
Posted by Thin White Duke