Friday, November 17, 2006

Casino Royale

I am very happy to report that James Bond is back... shaken, not stirred. Much has been written since the announcement of Daniel Craig taking over the franchise, and most of it very critical. Mr. Craig has taken the iconic role and completely made it his own. While I'm sure this will be debated by die-hard fans everywhere, he is the best Bond since Sean Connery.

This film revitalizes the franchise by literally taking it back to it's roots. Staying pretty faithful to the Ian Fleming novel, "Casino Royale" introduces Bond to his first 00 mission. The film is full of the action we expect from a Bond film but this action is grounded (for the most part) in reality. The stunt work is terrific. The CGI, from what I can tell, is kept to a minimum. There is a plot that makes sense, real dramatic moments and a very human James Bond. Mr. Craig plays him as a diamond in the rough. This Bond is serious, intense, and flawed. This Bond bleeds... repeatedly. He is beaten, shot with a nail gun, poisoned, tortured, nearly drowned, and beaten some more. I could criticize his incredible healing ability but why bother, it's James Bond.

The screenwriters (including Paul Haggis. What doesn't he write these days?) have done a great job infusing the Bond elements we all love (Judy Dench as M, the exotic locations, the women, a creepy villain) into a story that, while bloated, never goes as over the top as we've seen in the recent past. The film runs two and a half hours and could have easily been cut by 20 minutes or so. There is a point when you think it may never end but end it does and it will leave you with anticipation for Mr. Craig's next turn in the tuxedo.

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