Saturday, March 17, 2007

Casino Royale: Grade B


Casino Royale (2006)

Daniel Craig.

Casino Royale

Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikklesen, Judi Dench. Director Martin Campbell.

This is an “A” movie within the category of Bond pictures, one of the best, but as movies in general go, it is a typical Hollywood action-adventure, maybe a little above average because of the high production values and locations. Daniel Craig is a good Bond, as everyone says, with a menacing scowl, but even in a tux, he does not exude savoir-faire as did Sean Connery and Roger Moore. His emotional range seems limited. When he confesses love in a monotone, it is totally unconvincing. Yet in the DVD extras, Craig himself is quite dynamic, so I put the limitation down to poor directing. The director also did not show the character development of Bond, from hard case, emotionally shut-down killer, to vulnerable lover, then to some resolution of those two. Instead, action trumped all subtlety. That makes sense for this franchise, but the slight suggestion of genre transcendence is unused. The opening 20 minute chase scene is completely irrelevant (as is the custom in these movies), and for me, far too long, but other 007 movies have exploited every vehicle known to man, from subs to spaceships; snowmobiles to jet-skis, so a foot chase was a novelty. The milky eye on villain Mikklesen is perfectly creepy. Eva Green gives a varied, complex, and consistently top notch performance. Dench was lazy casting for “M,” her excellent diction notwithstanding. The extended poker scenes, I found tedious, Bond’s recovery from a heart stoppage unconvincing, and finally, I didn’t understand the ending with “Mr. White.” It must have been a transition to a sequel. The DVD extras, on a separate disk, are basically promotions for the movie and contain no information. (The disk will not play on some Tivo DVRs due to Sony's formatting).

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