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Casino Royale - Movie Review

James Bond, the British agent, is arguably the most well developed and understood character in the history of franchise cinema. He can trash a line of expensive cars on the street side and nobody gives him a bill; nobody thinks of filing a case if his bullets are sprinkled over a body; he gets to use the most sophisticated devices to challenge the world's most evil minds; and he travels to exotic locations where smooth skinned, super talented beautiful women share his bed; and when he is done ruining his enemy (rather, successfully completing the government's covert operation) he walks away mostly unharmed, dusting off his sullied clothes. Teen girls want him, and understandably teen boys want to be like him. The series aims at offering uninhibited adrenaline rush and unadulterated fun for the entire running length. Casino Royale, the first story written by Ian Fleming featuring Bond fails to fulfill the expectations of a Bond fan.

Before acquiring his double-O status (shown in black & white) Bond is a man who acts on impulses, is neither cool nor suave, and kills a man with his bare hands in a bathroom in an ugly fight and pops a bullet into another one's head without delivering any punch dialogues that we are so used to listening from him whenever he kills somebody. When his boss M says that she's afraid that she might have promoted him a little too soon when he violates her orders, he responds that double-O's are expected to have a short life. And that's what he does most of the running time, where in the end he finally learns to tame his ego and becomes emotionally detached.

<Spoiler>The story for screen is simple and straightforward: Le Chiffre, a banker who funds terrorists needs to be stopped. When he bets $100 millions that a new model jumbo flight won't take off on the stipulated day from Miami airport and makes necessary arrangements to explode the plane, Bond stops that, which puts the banker in a financially crunched position and drives him to play poker (or whatever) at an expensive casino in Montenegro. Since Bond is the best player in the intelligence service, he is chosen to stop him from winning the pot and Vesper Lynd, another agent is sent to overlook his bets in case he goes over the board. A series of twists and turns results in Bond being saved by Vesper twice eventually. Bond falls in love with her - the first and last girl Bond would ever fall in love with.</Spoiler>

There aren't many high tech gadgets which makes us wonder when and how Bond's going to use them and get out of trouble. In fact, the action scenes involve furious hand-to-hand combat and chase on foot where sophisticated weapons are out of question. I'm disappointed with the girls in this movie - I don't know if it's because of the 'reboot' - Vesper Lynd's costumes, make-up and hairstyle resembles the sixties. The movie isn't technically impressive either - the photography is pretty ordinary and the flow of the story struggles during the stretched Casino scenes.
The absence of Moneypenny is understandable - may be the service will get her for his next outing.

Daniel Craig
as James Bond shines. He has the aggression and the manliness of a Bond. Eva Green as Vesper Lynd does a credible job. Martin Campbell has already directed a far more entertaining Bond movie - GoldenEye. I haven't read the book and can't comment on how
loyal the screenplay is. But the overly sentimental scenes between the leads made me puke. Though Bond may not have any superpowers like Spiderman, Superman or Batman, I still categorize him as a superhero and we all go to superhero movies to be children again and witness pure entertainment. The recent spate of superhero movies have a more-than-necessary screen time to romance. It looks like a cheap attempt by the producers to lure in the date couples.

This movie provides an explanation for how Bond became the Bond we all know. Bond is emotionally so intimate with Vesper that he even cries at one point of time - now, who would have thought that tears would run down his cheek? His emotional loss makes him a misogamist. And the pain he undergoes because of his split second decisions marred by a clouded ego help him graduate from a second grade spy to a smooth-talking and think-before-act spy. 'Casino Royale' is a prelude to a Bond movie. Now that he's learned his lesson, he should be ruthless, rude and raving to go for his next adventure (which is already in pre-production). Daniel Craig utters the most famous five words just at the end of the movie and looks down a man whom he just shot with a coldness comparable to Minnesota winter. So, there's still hope that Bond will be back.

7 Responses to “Casino Royale - Movie Review”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Good review. I have a hunch that Craig may become the greatest Bond ; he has that ruggedness.

    "Eva Green as Vesper Lynd does a credible job" - did you mean creditable job ?

    Cheers
    Varaha.  

  2. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Varaha,
    I actually meant 'worthy of confidence; reliable' as per dictionary.com. I don't refute that she deserves praise for her job.

    I agree that Craig has the potential to be the greatest Bond since Connery.

    Prasad.  

  3. # Blogger Brajeshwar

    Well, the poker scene will be a drag to those who do not know poker. So, perhaps it is not your fault. Btw, Craig have been signed for 2 more bond movies.  

  4. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Rajeshwar,
    Yes, I'm not familiar with the 'Texas hold'em poker' - the one played in the movie. But I have second thoughts about the 'not-so-well-edited' casino scenes - I think the theatre where I saw the movie (Sathyam Cinemas, Chennai) screened a version different from the one the studio intended for it's audience.

    I've been reading about the movie on the web and I realize that a few of them were cut from the one I saw... either the CBFC or the local theatres chose to edit away a few scenes. I shouldn't be blaming the editor of the movie.  

  5. # Blogger Brajeshwar

    Well, I don't think the Indian Print was cut anywhere except the Sea Water scene between Craig and Eva which was just about 2 minutes of cut. So, instead of the International 144 minutes, Indian theaters had 142 minutes.

    I suspect if they would do regional editing of movies as that would be really heavy cost legally.  

  6. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Rajeshwar (or is it Brajeshwar),
    I don't know what you mean by 'legal cost' - Indian theatres have long been editing what they think as unwanted/dragging scenes to make the movie more palatable for their audience (read B & C centres).

    Prasad.  

  7. # Blogger Rajesh

    Nice review on Casino Royale.
    Work From Home  

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