Sunday, November 26, 2006

Movies: Casino Royale (2006)

To say that Casino Royale (2006) is the best James Bond movie or that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever would require me to review all the old Bond movies to compare. So, I'll make a lesser claim and say that Casino Royale is a very good movie.

In the film, James Bond is promoted by the British Secret Service and sent to stop terrorist/warlord financing by finding the guy who invests their money. The investor makes a bad stock market investment and decides to try recoup the lost moneyat a high-stakes poker match at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. Bond joins the game (with government money) to try to beat the financier, make him broke and force him to rat out his terrorist clients in exchange for government protection.

Here are some reasons I liked the movie.

The chase scene: Done entirely on foot. No cars. It is one of the best chases I've seen in a movie. Lots of crazy jumping, leaping, sliding and shooting.

Simple gizmos: Bond's most important gizmo is is GPS-enabled mobile phone. No rocket launchers under his hood or lapels that shoot poison darts.

Simple character: The other Bond movies presented him as a smooth-talking man-of-the-world, who happens to be an MI6 agent. This movies makes it clear that Bond is smart, but not entirely comfortable in high society.

Evil-character not so evil: The bad guy in this movie is weird, has a scar and is married to a hot chick. But he doesn't own an island or have an intercontinental missile hiding in a dome somewhere. He's just a guy who wants to make some money and tries to do so in the stock market and in a poker game. Sure, he is willing to kill a few people along the way -- but not entire civilizations.

Old-fashioned editing: Scenes fade into one another, which helps make the movie feel like one from the 1960s. Also, the movie is more quiet that usual. They don't plaster every moment of every scene with incidental music.

Bottom line: Unfortunately, the movie goes on for too long and does that stupid "you think it's over... well it's not over yet" thing. Nonetheless, a very enjoyable movie, which happens to be a Bond film. Daniel Craig's Bond is different from Connery's ladies-man, Moore's aristocratic pris, Dalton's sour-puss, or Brosnan's charicature of Moore. The new Bond is more like Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer.

Can't wait for the next one, which is something I haven't said about a Bond movie in 20 years.

New Quebec rating: 8/10

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