Monday, November 20, 2006

Casino Royal review

For some time, I have had a suspicion that the Sunday Times' chief film reviewer, Cosmo Landesman, doesn't actually know what makes a good film. Perhaps, if I were to be more polite, I would say that my opinion of what makes a good film differs from his. Either way, the fact is that I now have final conclusive proof that I am right and he is wrong, because the latest James Bond film, Casino Royal, is the best film I've seen all year, and certainly one of the best Bond films ever made.

Short of Tomorrow Never Dies, the more recent Bond efforts have been, if not completely pathetic, then largely forgettable. This is probably due to the fact that they ran out of Ian Fleming's books to convert to films some time ago, and so the films have relied on action and gadgets to get by. For Casino Royal, this isn't the case, because it is a remake of the original film, and based on the book of the same name - the first ever James Bond book. As a result, the film is very very different to almost every Bond film, with our hero being a slightly naive raw recruit (albeit one with an ego the size of Vauxhall Cross) who has just been promoted to his new title of 007. We get to see how the plot of the film moulds Bond gradually; tellingly, the famous Bond theme tune only appears right at the very end of the film, perhaps indicating that only then has transformed into the character that we have seen over the years. The scenario is given a clever twist by the film being set in the modern day, with internet, wireless communication and computers featuring heavily.

Daniel Craig is excellent in the main role, although I think he was lucky with the situation - the whole point of the film is that this 007 is very different to the more experienced one we have seen so many times before, so he had some license to stamp his own mark on the character. The rest of the acting is adequate, although it occasionally hampered by the slightly clunking script, which rather overstates the plot in case any thickos are watching and don't get it. In a way, though, this is a compliment to the plot which drives the movie at a relentless pace and high level of tension. Constantly twisting and turning, and with several factions all playing against each other, it is the plot that really raises this Bond effort high above the bar.

I haven't even mentioned the action sequences - - but quite frankly I needn't bother. Even if they were rubbish (they're not - one of them Djanira thought was the best chase scene she'd ever seen, the others all having you on the edge of your seat) it wouldn't really matter. Go and see this film, I can guarantee that you will enjoy it. Unless, of course, your name is Cosmo Landesman.

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