Feb 102007

Bannerman and his lady today decided to kick back in Gold Class. The film? Casino Royale.

To those of you who haven’t seen this flick, as ’Molly’ Meldrum would say, "Do yourselves a favour". For those dyed-in-the-wool Sean Connery fans, rest easy. The franchise has been awakened from a long slumber and severely jolted back to a real life with a solid dose of Daniel Craig. At thirty-nine years of age, Craig is just about the right age for a fit, well-trained MI6 agent to be hitting the road. Daniel Craig carries off the role of the cold, efficient killer-spy to an impressive degree. So much so, that Bannerman’s impression is that Fleming himself would not have been happier.

This tale, the twenty-first of the Bond genre, portrays a James Bond at his mental, physical and egotistical peak. He is self-assured, arrogant, and also a man. A man with faults, just like any other. ’M’, played again admirably by Dame Judy Dench, can see right through him. She labels him for what she knows him to be, but which Bond is yet to discover for himself.

The plot deals with Bond tackling a terrorist banker who is playing the casinos and stock markets of the world with his clients money. A dangerous game, to be sure. Bond is accompanied by Her Majesty’s Treasury representative, Vesper Lynd. Vesper is also a self-assured, beautiful and somewhat arrogant human being, charged with ensuring that Bond doesn’t gamble un-necessarily with HM’s money. She is also naive when it comes to exactly who and what Bond is. When faced with his ability to kill and survive no matter what, she suddenly realises the yawning gulf between her world and his.

The movie is intriguing, as most of the franchise have been, in its settings, the people and surroundings. The Casino in Montenegro and the high-stakes poker championship in which Bond hopes to take down the terrorist banker, Le Chiffre, are particularly enthralling. This movie is missing many of the expected Bond ’gadgets’, save for a brief intro into how he happened by the Aston Martin DB5, and ’M’s provisioning of his latest steed, the Aston Martin DBS. We discover that Daniel Craig’s Bond favours Omega watches, as opposed to some of his predecessors with their Rolex Submariner. He doesn’t smoke, whereas we know for a fact that Fleming’s Bond did. We hear the recipe for a drink Bond concocts at the Casino, which he later names ’Vesper’ in honour of the lady he eventually falls for. For the record, it’s three measures of Gordon’s gin, one (1) measure of vodka, and a half-measure of Kina Lillet. Serve with a peeling of a lemon in a deep martini glass, and there you have it!

There were some rough edges to the story, which does well to portray a young Bond on his first ’00’ outing in accordance with Fleming’s dictates. Those who’ve read the novels will know that Bond actually fell in love once, married and lost his young wife to a killer’s vendetta. He never allowed another woman to penetrate his defences again. Bannerman can’t remember exactly which book it is, but this movie makes good attempts to portray this side of the character. Craig plays the coldly efficient killer and fragile, accessible male to an absolute tee. It is a little unsettling to be forced to realise that the cold war is long over with, terrorism is the new black for spys and 1962 is actually 2007. The tactics and mindsets don’t change, however. This flick is non-stop action, from the opening scenes to the closing credits. The unexpected is always around the corner, as are, sadly, some of the ridiculous. A building sinking into a Venetian canal, Bannerman found, is a little bit out there. The real saving grace for the film is a total lack of tongue-in-cheek double entendres and corny jokes by Bond at a villains expense. This movie is all about the business, means business and most definitely IS the business.

On a rating scale of 10, and recalling that this movie has to meet a certain genre expectation, Bannerman rates it a strong 8. If you haven’t seen it because you’re tired of Bond flicks, put aside your expectations and go for the ride. You won’t be sorry.

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