Latest Bond flick brutal

Brutal. That's probably the most common word I have heard associated with the latest depiction of James Bond in "Casino Royale." It takes less than five minutes of screen time to see it's accurate.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

 

Brutal.

That's probably the most common word I have heard associated with the latest depiction of James Bond in "Casino Royale." It takes less than five minutes of screen time to see it's accurate.

Actor Daniel Craig's Bond is absolutely deadly. He is a flurry of flying fists; I couldn't help but cringe when I imagined the force of the secret agent's blows. I've seen all the 007 onscreen incarnations and I still was stunned to see how quick Craig is at drawing his pistol.

Director Martin Campbell ("GoldenEye") filmed the first few minutes of "Casino Royale" in black and white, giving the introduction a noir-like atmosphere. It's perfect for this story of spying and double crosses.

The style also accentuates the power and rage of the bathroom brawl between Bond and his attacker. Blood gushing in black and white is even more horrifying to see than it would have been in color.

Even better, the flashback perfectly sets up the bright, red blood dripping in the iconic "gun barrel" perspective of Bond spinning on his heel, delivering the killing shot we've seen in every 007 film.

Before its Nov. 17 release last year, "Casino Royale" creators promised there would be no Q, no gadgets and no Miss Moneypenny.

Q, the scientist who invents various tools for 007's missions, is indeed MIA. But I've never seen Bond make such an extensive use of cell phones and computerized global tracking equipment.

There is no sign of Moneypenny, the flirtatious secretary who pines for Bond's affections. Fans should realize there is an homage to the ultimate "Bond girl" if they pay attention to the dialogue between 007 and Vesper Lynd when they first meet. Lynd oversees the money Bond gambles in a high-stakes poker tournament against a banker who funds terrorists.

"I'm the money," Lynd says by way of introduction. "Every penny of it," Bond says in return.

It's these subtle inclusions that make "Casino Royale" such a treat.

I had forgotten Bond named the dry martini he spontaneously creates during the tournament after Vesper, arguably the spy's first love. A nice touch was having several of his competitors order the same drink one a bartender knows is "shaken, not stirred."

While Craig never utters the famous line, I can't say "Casino Royale" is any less of Bond film as a result. Good riddance to the dancing girls in the credits sequence a dinosaur of sexism that needs to remain extinct.

The last line Craig says is the one we had been expecting for the previous two hours and 20 minutes.

The context here serves a dual purpose. For moviegoers, it re-introduces us to a deadly man who has earned the right to carry his license to kill. For Bond, he uses his now-iconic introduction to honor the biggest lesson he learned from his first mission: Don't trust anyone. Grade: A

* * *

THEN THERE'S 'GHOST RIDER': Nicolas Cage, never one of my favorite actors, makes me doubt how serious he is about being a childhood fan of the devil's bounty hunter. He is as unconvincing as stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze as he is in generating any kind of chemistry with co-star Eva Mendes.

Equally questionable is the creative direction and tone. Is "Ghost Rider" a supernatural western? A creepy monster movie straining to rise above its B-level tendencies? Or a quirky action film with striking visual effects doomed by awkward dialogue? I don't know and I'm pretty sure neither does director Mark Steven Johnson ("Daredevil").

On the other hand, the always enjoyable Sam Elliott nails the grizzled wisdom needed for Blaze's mentor. His voice-over introduction was unnecessary and forced, since his character shares the same background story later. Grade: C-