Perhaps it is time to leave the closet. (Skeletons do not make the best company.) I am not what you would call a James Bond “fanatic.”
I have delighted to the godlike Connery breathe fire and throw thunderbolts in Goldfinger. I have endured a geriatric Roger Moore paw at the cradle in For Your Eyes Only. I have laughed heartily at the sheer bombastic ridiculousness of Remington Steele and his invisible car. But I know nothing of Timothy Dalton outside of his memorable work in Flash Gordon. Oh, and this alleged “Lazenby” ponce sounds like nothing more than some hymenopteran slacker kicked from the hive. With that off my chest, let us to the review proper:
As Batman Begins before it, Casino Royale is a reinvention of an old friend, and just as welcome. We begin in Prague where our intrepid hero achieves 007 status (sorry folks, apparently one requires two confirmed kills; it has nothing to do with your Xbox Live Gamer Score.) Predictably there are whirlwind adventures as we follow a bomber who ends up being linked to an investment banker using dirty money to float stock scams, taking us from Uganda to Venice. There are a couple of lovely ladies who provide distraction, of whom Eva Green is particularly…attractive. The plot is both more and less complicated than that, but that’s not why anybody was there. We want cars and set pieces, and we get to see some most heinously buckled swash for our money. Some folks also want gadgets, but I’ve always hated that: Casino is gritty, dirty, and blessedly free of Q…
I suppose I should address the “issue” of Daniel Craig. The question on everyone’s mind: is www.danielcraigisnotbond.com right? The answer: they are so wrong that they make Jar Jar look right. Not since Connery have we seen a 007 who looks to have any business throwing a punch. During an appetite-whetting early chase scene through a construction site, Bond’s lithe quarry jumps, Jackie Chan-like, through a small hole at the top of a freshly built wall. Craig, Incredible Hulk-like, opts to walk through the wall. When asked if he wants his vodka martini shaken or stirred, he sneers “do I look like I give a damn?”
I can’t say this delicious meal of spying hijinks is without flaws – the ending does drag a little and could easily have been handled as a pre-credit vignette in the next film (and there will be a next film, the credits were naturally emblazoned with the classic words “James Bond Will Return”.) Even so, it is seven courses of ass-kicking and I can’t wait to watch it again. Maybe I was just high on the palpable love the audience had for the film (I cannot remember the last time I heard actual applause not only at the end of a movie, but during as well), but this is not just the best Bond movie I’ve ever seen. It might be my favorite movie so far this year.