Double-Oh-Dear: Casino Royale Review

If you were expecting a suave, debonair Bond with lots of gadgets and a bevy of beautiful scantily-clad women, look elsewhere. In an attempt to revive the flagging four-decade-old Bond franchise (I hate it when they refer to movies as if they were hamburgers), they have gone back to the beginning and reinvented Bond.

The original Casino Royale was a short story by Ian Fleming, and the first movie of that name was a spoof. This is a return to the beginning – almost a prequel to the Bond saga. As such, it answers a lot of questions about how Bond became a double-oh agent and what, precisely, that means.

Daniel Craig plays the title role, and while he is an excellent actor and an authentic secret agent, he simply does not look the part of Bond – the blond hair simply does not work, and his facial structure makes him look a little too Slavic to be Her Majesty’s Weapon of Mass Seduction.

The movie itself is much more raw than one would expect. It opens with a brutal scene in which Bond makes his first kill – Apparently you have to kill two people to earn the license to kill. This , which seems a little recursive to me, but maybe I am overthinking things as usual.

Initially, it is difficult to tell the time period in which the story is set. The initial scenery and the use of monochrome footage in the first few minutes had me thinking that it was set in the fifties or sixties. But before long it soon becomes apparent that it is set in the twenty-first century, and not the mid-twentieth.

There are some technical issues that annoyed me, but non-geeks probably wouldn’t have noticed them, so I’ll let that go. I was, however, annoyed at the lack of Q, which goes a long way towards explaining the gadgetlessness (is there even such a word?) of this movie. Another annoyance is that in the showdown card game was Poker, while in the book, it is Baccarat, which is much more “European”. I am not sure why they made this change – perhaps because poker is the current “big-money” card game here in the USA, or perhaps Baccarat is too easily confused with a certain pop music composer.

Normally, when reviewing a movie, it is fashionable to complain about the bits of the book that ended up on the cutting-room floor; not this one; In a cruel twist of irony, one of the worst scenes from the book – the torture scene (you’ll know it when you see it) is faithfully depicted in painful detail; a little too much information, methinks. His subsequent “recovery” is a little too speedy to be credible.

I used four bucks of my free Amazon Unbox credit for this movie, and while I don’t feel ripped off, I am really glad that I didn’t shell out more money to see this in the theater.

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