Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Casino Royale: It's a Man's, Man's, Man's (etc.) World

Here we go with another film I can't really advise you on: Either you want to see the latest entry in the Bond genre, or you don't. Some quick notes:
  • Titles, 'though animated and expensive they may be, just look tacky. Song, by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, is awful. Bond demands a female singer. Maybe Beyonce is too busy, but what about Mariah Carey or some other songbird looking for the attention? What's Sheena Easton doing these days? Or how about (groan) Kylie Minogue?
  • It's all uphill from there, however. After a needless but entertaining prologue, the action kicks in and doesn't stop. Judi Dench hams it up as "M" while giving her character a sense of depth (plus we get an inkling that, surprise, there's a Mr. M. What does he do? My money's on his being a retired don from Cambridge or Oxford).
  • Daniel Craig nails Bond. He may be the best Bond since Sean Connery. Connery had a working-class edge to him, as if his playboy gloss was something precarious and hard-won, while his ease at killing, regardless of his license, was instinctive. Craig's got the up-from-nothing attitude. (Yes, I know Ian Fleming preferred Roger Moore, but --speaking as a writer -- we don't always know who will work best on the screen. There's almost a sterility to Moore's performances.)
  • And Craig is, to bring this down to the nitty-gritty, a major babe, compact and well-built, as Private Eye might say. Ladies and gentlemen, we get to see him pretty much in the altogether, and sweaty, too. Enjoy.
  • The Bond women (I won't call them girls, as they are all thankfully legal) in this are counter trend; Eva Green rocks some 80s eye makeup that doesn't flatter her. She's far more beautiful without it. But I rather thought the new Bond deserved more glamo(u)rous well as a better song.

The film is about 20 minutes too long; we don't need the prologue, and Bond's oasis of bliss with Eva Green's Vesper Lynd could be a little snappier, since we know this Eden can't last. Action scenes are plentiful and great. We see too little of the always-excellent Jeffrey Wright as an American compatriot. Overall, however, this is a great new installment in the franchise, and good holiday fare -- if exploding and collapsing things and major mortality rates is your distraction of choice.

No comments: