Friday, November 17, 2006

Casino Royale: Coronation of a new Bond

Casino Royale is not just a Bond movie but a movie about Bond. It’s not about the gadgets, it’s not about the brands being endorsing, it’s not even about the women since Eva Green seems more suited to a romantic caper than having the oomph of a Bond girl. So much so that the maximum exposure is by Bond himself as he walks out of an azure sea with the shortest of shorts revealing his assiduously developed six packs.

The movie is about a new Bond who is as desperate to keep his job as much as the world’s most popular franchise is trying to keep its relevance. If his predecessor Pierce Brosnan could arguably be called the best dressed closed room Bond, then Daniel Craig starts off by showing his brute strength as a man who has roughed out in the outdoors and begins to claw back into the champagne and caviar infused sophistication by the end.

The movie starts off with Bond earning his double 00 status with two killings, 1 gruesome and 1 smooth. The title song follows, slightly old fashioned, reminding me one of the Sean Connery Bond movie titles like Diamonds are forever.

The action moves to Madagascar where Bond is trying to find the source of finance for a group of warlords. In a half sleeved shirt Daniel Craig shows his stupendous fitness in a very well choreographed free flowing action sequence based on the Parkour sport quite popular in London. Its good old action without gun fire or a machismo of WWF. Sadly he gets caught on camera shooting the guy and M as ruthless as ever asks him to lay off for a while.

Although there is good fun in the sequence where Bond breaks into M’s house and uses her password, Judi Dench as M looks pretty jaded in this movie, almost sleepwalking through this role. If Bond is being resurrected in this movie, then maybe there was an opportunity here as well to bring back a M who has this mentor type outlook rather than a matronly demeanour.

Bond moves to Bahamas, does some old fashioned legwork for a change based on which he successfully foils an attempt to bring down the world’s largest airplane. A nice contemporary touch and the villain is revealed who is basically a whiz kid turned financier and private banker for terrorist organizations.

In fact the action sequences till this part are riveting and lend good pace to the movie. Another smart thing that Martin Campbell has done is that by elongating the movie to 145 minutes he gives ample screen time for Daniel Craig to earn his place in the sun and display his superb acting skills.

The weakest part of the movie from a plot perspective is the poker game at the Casino Royale. But though the game is impoverished , the surroundings get richer due to deft direction.

Martin Campbell saves the day by incorporating the transition phase for Bond (see the remarks on his dress sense and Oxford suits, the initial do I care answer to the shaken or stirred martini to the elaborate description later). The best of course are the romantic repartees between Bond and Eva Green. She has some of the best lines in the movie, and the one-liners keep getting better and better. By giving her a beauty with brains kind of charm, the director somehow manages to justify Bonds’ folly of falling in love.

Also by adding two near death sequences, one where Bond loses a high rolling round and one where he is poisoned , the director showcases Daniel Craig’s brilliant acting abilities and this is where he creates the strongest emotional connect with the man who is going to enthrall has for more two more movies contractually after this.
If there is one word that describes the new Bond, it is steel. Right from the icy blue eyes, tough jawbones, to his bullyish English footballer like personality, well chiseled body and his ability to come out of close situations after starting on the wrong foot, Daniel Craig hits you like a thousand bricks. And when he breathes the sophisticated Oxford suit at the end and not wears it and mouths “Name is Bond, James Bond” with a gun in his hand, you know that this man has earned his spurs and Bond is truly back. When the theme music plays for the first time in the movie you know that this is not the last time you want to hear it.


At 10:26 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Good review.. Some reviews bill it as the "best bond movie ever". Will have to chk it out...

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