Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Chipster's Film Review: Casino Royale

Mutterings & Meanderings suggested in the comments that I might just be a woman given yesterday’s posting about my eating chocolate and reading books. At first I felt insulted. Then I had a warm flush and had an unbearable desire to do some ironing. Such an assault on my masculinity called for immediate action. I settled down in front of the TV and watched the latest James Bond film.

None of the reviews I’ve read do ‘Casino Royale’ justice. This is a total makeover of the Bond franchise, with the producers cutting away every ounce of flab that it had gained up over the years. It lost the love of bad gags it found during Roger Moore's tenure, and also move away from the GQ magazine Bond that Brosnon brought to the series. It even lost Connery’s superhuman toughness.

What it introduced was violence towards Bond. Some say it’s too violent, but Bond has always been about violence. And masochistic violence at that. It was Roger Moore who seemed to turn them into camp comedies. Everything here feels loyal to the source material. Even the changes are true to the tone. The torture scene is far less violent than Fleming wrote it but it shows enough of Bond’s willingness to absorb pain to make us begin to understand the what drives him. This is a lean Bond, with more of an edge of realism than it’s ever had before. The stunts are as crazy as ever, but are kept within the realms of what’s possible. There is nothing that defies reason, or detaches us from what’s happening on screen. Even Judy Dench works better as M. She’s more cold hearted, meaner, yet more in keeping with the original M of Fleming’s imagination. Her relationship with Bond is an intriguing one as she’s the person who facilitates his apparent death wish and yet is the closest thing he has to a friend on screen. It’s a relationship I finally look forward to watch its develop.

The only criticisms I have are minor ones. At the end, Bond remarks to M that ‘The bitch is dead’ (the last line of Fleming’s novel). It leads Dame Judy to give a small speech reminding Bond why his cold heartedness is uncalled for. The speech coming howling from the vacuous cavity of some screenwriter’s liberal conscience. It is so clearly directed to the slower members of the audience who can’t see that this line as one of Bond’s stock defences and that, internally, he’s emotionally flatlining.

I’m also unsure about Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. I might well come to love her character the more times I watch the film, but for the first hour of the film her accent grated on my nerves. If she was attempting to portray a gratingly overconfident member of David Cameron’s inner circle, then she did a good job.

Daniel Craig is better than I could imagine at portraying this vulnerable Bond. He’s built like a gibbon, as though he’s spent too much time building his upper body strength. It has left him looking oddly top heavy. However, his bruises, cuts, and hurts are real enough and that, in the end, is what makes this the best Bond I think I’ve ever seen. And by the time I finished watching it, I was determined to buy myself a new tuxedo and learn some unarmed combat. I felt like a man again.

8 comments:

mutterings and meanderings said...

Chippy, surely you're sufficiently secure in your manhood? I thought you waved it about as a career choice?

Chip Dale said...

That's the thing, M&M. I'm damned if I complain, and damned if I don't. Anyway, I think I made my point. I've only been off stage for ten minutes and I'm still drenched with my sweet masculine sweat.

Edwina Currie said...

Methinks you doth fucking protest too much.

Chip Dale said...

Admit it, Edwina, you're really a man. I can tell. There's some subtle thing about the way you parse a phrase which is so very masculine.

Edwina said...

Don't try and turn this effing(see, I can do polite) discussion on its head, Chip. I admit I'm a bit pissed off with you as I thought we were getting along famously, and next thing you went all cold on me.

Chip Dale said...

Edwina, of course we're getting along and I'd have it no other way. But Gabby found out about my flirting and threats were made. In the words of Clint Eastwood: 'a man has to know his limitations'.

Arthur Clewley said...

I think mutterings and meanderings is a bloke chip. She was just trying to divert attention, it's psychology you know, clever stuff

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