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Monday, November 20, 2006
Will Daniel Craig live up to the charisma and screen presence of the earlier James Bonds?
That's the big question in everyone's minds, aside from the curiosity of what the new James Bond 007 - Casino Royale has to offer to Bond- and action-thriller fans. And here's the answer - the film and the new Bond are simply fabulous!
Casino Royale is touted to be one of the best Bond films made, surprisingly (since many of the earlier films are so good, it would be difficult to oust them from their positions) and Daniel Craig is a perfect new-age James Bond.
Casino Royale, from the rave reviews after international press shows and today's opening blast and audience response, is one of the best films of 2006, when we have seen a lot of youth-dominated or gore-filled or fantasia-oriented movies... it's a captivating, adult thriller and upholds the magic of James Bond through and through.
Contrary to the earlier films, Daniel Craig's Bond is not smoothly cocky, understated and rakishly English. He's young, fresh and reckless - as seen in the opening scenes of the film, where he makes his first mark in the field of MI6' secret service work.
This James Bond is grittier, runs well (shown in a chase-scene where his quarry is a master of parkour, meaning free running, meaning having to jump any type and size of obstacle in a heartbeat!) and lands man-to-man punches without frequently adjusting his proper tie. James Bond fails in this mission. M (Judi Dench) is furious, reprimands him and pulls him off the case. Not one to be stopped by minor issues like rules at work, Bond decides to go off on his own after terrorists and potential terrorists.
Sure enough, fate sends him enough action of different kinds - smoky and exotic, but much-married Solange (Caterina Murino) and terrorist money-launderer Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). Bond being Bond and Solange being gorgeous, they both get a little under-the-covers action too - but then, what would a James Bond film be without escapades like these!
M finally gets a-hold of 007 and instructs him to trap Le Chiffre, who is in a bad way financially, in a high-stakes poker game... at swanky Casino Royale in Montenegro, of course. Assisted by Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) who is an officer in charge of ensuring Bond doesn't squander away the government's millions sanctioned for the game, Bond tries his hand at poker, with the stakes higher and more crucial than anyone would suspect. No, James Bond is not a perfect poker player, but Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) is there to help him out...
The plot then moves from mind games to card games to intense, down-to-earth action. There is a definite lack of big, effects-filled explosions, too many double-entendres of the earlier Bonds and mind-boggling gadgets. John Cleese's Q is conspicuous by his absence, but the story moves on. Moneypenny is sorely missed, though, probably because for years, she seemed to be the only woman capable of giving Bond back as good as she got!
What appeals in this film is everything refreshing. Forget the intricacy of plot - it's the usual good-over-evil in international crime with a new story and angle. What's great to watch are the changes and the difference in characters. This James Bond is not perfect, super-handsome and precise. His craggy features, arresting intense blue eyes and toned, buff body is of a totally different Bond. He is flawed, temperamental, not always confident and definitely doesn't touch success every time. He's not a randy rabbit all the time with women and actually tries to have a relationship with Vesper.
Daniel pulls off Bond well, but his acting skills are no news. His performances in films like Munich, Layer Cake, Road to Perdition and Infamous are critically acclaimed and he is quite an action-guy too, if one would remember his moments with Lara Croft - Tomb Raider.
As for Vesper, she is neither a weak-willed lady nor Superwoman - just independent, determined and strong.
M is not a matriarchal tyrant constantly left speechless by Bond's audacity and actually gets to show her worth in a few scenes.
Of course, the Le Chiffre himself isn't the wealthiest, most powerful or undefeated villain in the world with either vast amounts of money and technology around him or entire nations secretly backing him - he is just a very, very bad guy with lots of resources but is also in lots of trouble.
"Masala"-seeking Bond fans - don't be disappointed. While the story moves without the superficial assistance of bronzed bodies, much sex and wild action and gadgetry, there IS a lot of the expected Bond stuff too - a great car, fine dining and drinking, some slick tuxedos and suits, beautiful women, including gorgeous Alessandra Ambrosio and of course, the shaken-but-not-stirred martini.
This is Ian Fleming's very first James Bond book and has never been OFFICIALLY adapted into a film. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are Bond veterans and worked on the script, assisted by Oscar-wining Paul Haggis (of Crash, Million Dollar Baby, etc.).
Director Martin Campbell, who gave us the first of the new Bonds Pierce Brosnan, with Goldeneye, gives us the same (or even better) thrills and spills yet again.
Casino Royale 007 is a gamble that is sure to pay off big time!
Directed by : Martin Campbell
Written by : Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis, based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Running Time : 144 minutes.
Producers : Jeffrey Stott, Glenn Williamson, John Moore
Cast : Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, Isaach De Bankol, Jesper Christensen, Ivana Milicevic, Tobias Menzies, Claudio
Date : November 17, 2006.