Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Casino Royale

I enjoyed Casino Royale immensely. The Bond franchise lost its confidence during the Roger Moore era due to what Ayn Rand called “bootleg romanticism.” The filmmakers didn’t take the series seriously and as a result the movies became campy and utterly unrealistic. Some things such as the opening sequences were there just because people expect a Bond film to follow a certain formula, and these sequences became outrageously over the top and unintegrated with a coherent plot.

The new Bond takes itself seriously. Every action sequence is integrated into the plot. The movie has an excellent script; it is thrilling and romantic, with some first-rate plot twists. I would say Daniel Craig's Bond is second only to Sean Connery. He is a more naturalistic Bond who gets cut up and bleeds and he is quite intense. He has a little Mike Hammer in him; he seems to be on a moral mission and, with his license to kill, willing to be judge, jury and hangman.

SPOILER IN THIS PARAGRAPH. The story even has a theme -- when was the last time you could say that about a Bond film? The theme is tragic: one must lose one's humanity and any chance at a normal, happy life to become a 00 agent. I believe the tragedy comes with taking a story seriously these days. Today's filmmakers cannot put happiness and seriousness together. Unalloyed value-achievement leads them to the campiness and comedy.

Unlike some, I thought the Bond girl, Eva Green, was fine. Granted, she is not an exotic type and not a supermodel, but, as a friend of mine used to say, I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers. She can act. You can’t say that about all the Bond girls over the decades.

1 comment:

EdMcGon said...

While I haven't seen the latest version of "Casino Royale", I will say this about the Bond films. They all seem to carry a formula (with the possible exception of the original "Casino Royale", which was more of a comedy) which works. You can tweak it, but if you make wholesale changes to it, is it really a Bond film anymore?

On the other hand, once you have seen everything up to the Timothy Dalton era, why would you even need to see another Bond film? What more can be added to the genre? There are plenty of great spy thrillers on film. Why make another Bond movie at all?

On a side note, my personal favorite of all the Bond films was "Live and Let Die". Between the music (Paul McCartney at his best), the best Bond girl ever (a young Jane Seymour), the best bad guys Bond ever faced (Yaphet Kotto and Geoffrey Holder), and the only Bond film to have supernatural overtones, "Live and Let Die" was the ultimate realization of the promise of the Bond franchise.