Bond Begins

I went to see this new Bond film, Casino Royale(2006), the other day. It definitely is supposed to be the beginning of the Bond films. But how can you make a prequel that takes place after the other movies took place? The film is inacronistic. Either Bond must begin back in the sixties, making it a vintage film, or the series must merely hit the reset button after having run for fifty years. No matter how good the film is it will still encounter this fundamental problem. Batman Begins(2005) had to deal with the same problem but it isn’t as noticeable. Batman only changes as the technology changes. Plus it takes place in a nonexistent city. James Bond is almost always tied to current events: You Only Live Twice(1967) was in the middle of the space race. GoldenEye(1995) deals with a fragmented Russia after the cold war ended. Die Another Day(2002) revolves around the North Korean conflict. Although Bond never really gets older in any of these films, having a sudden new beginning was difficult to digest.

As for this new Bond player,  Daniel Craig, he actually plays the role very well. Some viewers complain that he doesn’t feel very “Bond” because he is blond-haired and blue-eyed. I couldn’t see any of that. The man actually reminds me a little of Sean Connery, the original Bond.

His character was quite different from what Bond has become over the years. The character is colder; he seems less humorous. Some of the quips in the film were funny because they seemed uncharactistic of Bond. In one scene, Bond is with a beautiful woman when he finds that he must immediately leave. He orders a bottle of wine and caviar “for one” then takes off. Connery’s Bond had said he had to leave “almost immediately” in the same situation. This new Bond is all business.

The action in the film is awesome. There is a foot chase scene in the beginning that is unequalled. There is a lot of that hand-to-hand combat style from Bourne Identity(2002). There was even some of the shaky camera business from Bourne Supremacy(2004).

There are a lot of departures from Bond tradition in this film. There are so many that it makes me wonder whether they meant to make this film more closely resemble Ian Fleming’s book Casino Royale than resemble the other Bond films. Many previous Bond films were based only on the Bond character instead of Fleming’s works. I suppose that getting back to the basics would require a clean break: new Bond, new character, new action style, less super-gadgets, etc. There is definitely a new and different feel about the whole movie.

Now the plot…. oy, the plot. They made a big boo-boo with this film. There is a huge, honkin’ plothole in the end. DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM.

Okay, so there comes a point when you have no idea what side Vesper Lynd is on. That’s okay, but that difficulty is never fully cleared up. My friends and I had to put in some serious thought to reason out what happened in the end of the film. The convenient, explanatory call from M only raises more questions. She tells Bond that Vesper’s boyfriend was being randsomed. So what happened to him? M says that she must have made a deal to save Bond. When? Was Bond part of the original deal? She didn’t even know him then.

There must have been two deals. Vesper’s boyfriend is kidnapped, so Vesper makes a deal that will spare his life. That deal goes sour when Bond wins the Poker tournament, and they could have killed the boyfriend. But why would she go out to be kidnapped? Was Mathis in on it after all? Anyway, after Bond and Lynd are captured and tortured, she would have made a second deal to spare Bond’s life. Right?

One Response to “Bond Begins”

  1. TPN :: Box Office Weekly » Blog Archive » Whither 007? Says:

    […] Finally managed to see CASINO ROYALE last night. Loved it plenty. I will now throw out spoilers like free waffles as I explain what was great and not so great about it. Spoilers… they give away important surprises and plot points. If you want the movie to be a surprise to you, stop reading. I’m being as plain as I can about this. I will ruin the movie for you. First and foremost, the good folks at Broccoli Inc have finally succeeded in making Bond vulnerable again. He hasn’t been since GOLDFINGER. I almost said “making him human,” but the interesting thing to me about James Bond is he’s really not. He’s psychotic. He’s a sociopath who has found an acceptable role in society. The biggest reason that Sean Connery made such a splendid Bond isn’t his physicality or his acting chops; it’s that he understood that the character likes having a license to kill. You never got that from any of the other Bonds, especially Roger Moore, even from my favorite Pierce Brosnan. Even Timothy Dalton (who looked more like the literary Bond than any of them) didn’t enjoy killing. He didn’t seem to enjoy anything. Bond is an antihero. He’s a criminal. And Daniel Craig, with his opaque blue eyes and inscrutable expressions, is able to draw you in when you need to feel what he feels. But he’s also able to keep you out when it gets really ugly. I like that the movie kept in the most horrific plot point of the novel, Le Chiffre’s crude bottomless-wicker-chair torture of Bond. I never thought I’d see the day. Just now, as I write this, I’m wincing. Like the rest of the movie, it’s refreshingly low-tech and effective. No ritual introduction of deus ex-machina gadgets! Just a rope, a chair and a scrotum is all you really need to tell this story. And cell phones — dozens and dozens of cell phones. What the movie gets wrong, I fear, is the procedural – specifically, the famous stunt set pieces that are a hallmark of the series. What’s with the implausible leaping chase through a construction site? Why allow Bond to blow up a foreign embassy? Or rather, why does he still have a job after? Somewhere along the way Bond went from being a spy, someone who lies to you so he can steal your secrets, to a state-sponsored terrorist. Now everyone knows who he is, and he’s very good at going to foreign countries and assassinating people and blowing up their property. Not only is it hard to root for a terrorist, it’s so implausible a situation that the story can’t recover. On the other hand, if you don’t include these sequences then it just isn’t Bond, old fellow. My thinking is this: Sony had the rights to this book, which is why they were able to muscle in on the Bond Franchise. If they were smart, they would have started COMPLETELY from scratch. Called the movie Casino Regale, name the character Jim Bande or something. Make him more like John Drake from Secret Agent, a quiet guy who actually protects his cover. Do press telling people, yeah, it’s really Bond. Then start a whole string of sequels with the new guy. Maybe in fifteen years have a face-off between Bande and Bond, like Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy. You know who I’d be rooting for. […]

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