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Film Review: Hello Double-O-Sexy, goodbye spy fi

Casino Royale

7 out of 10
Casino Royale (2006)
NO SPOILERS

In the many, many years I’ve been an avid film-goer, there have only been three times I have actually heard female audience members openly gasp in shocked pleasure at displays of unexpected male beauty on the silver screen.

One was the beach volleyball scene in Top Gun, which made a superstar out of a little known actor named Tom Cruise, the second was a shirtless dumb-but-purty blond Texan hunk that was a one night stand for one of the women in Thelma and Louise. He became the mega-star Brad Pitt. The third time happened a few weeks ago when I was watching the newest James Bond flick.

A NEW HUNK STAR IS BORN

In Casino Royale we are introduced to the newest James Bond in actor Daniel Craig. For the first 40 or so minutes of the film, he plays a thuggish hit-man with an ugly demeanor who is trying to earn his newly-gained Double-O status. Then out of the blue – or in this case a blue Bahamian lagoon, a drippy blond speedo-wearing Daniel Crag rises from the water. (Cue female gasps) Later, as the Blond Bond crawls into a shower to console a crying woman, his white cotton tuxedo shirt turns almost transparent as it clings to his torso and arms. (Cue more gasps)

BUT DOES JAMES BLOND PULL IT OFF?

By now we’ve established that the new man to don the Bond moniker of this film is a hottie (at least from the neck down) judging from the audience reaction. But, can he act? Can he play a believable Bond?

The answer is an unqualified yes.

While Craig may not be the best bond to order a martini, he probably has the best acting chops. Never before have any of the previous actors approached the Bond character with such the honest earnestness that Craig displays in the role. He fully inhabits the predatory thuggish slab of beef as Bond was written in the original Ian Fleming novel.

NO MORE MR. SPY FI

This new bond also is a creature of the post 9/11 action cinema with brutal, bloody violence. The villains are no longer unbelievable megalomaniacs bent on world domination, but are terrorist zealots plotting a very realistic attack.

The whole movie is based on plausible realism and is a far cry from the traditional James Bond flick with its wink-nudge self awareness. There is no camp here.. and sadly, no gadgets.

The James Bond films of 30-so years ago gave rise to a new genre in fiction, spy fi. With its mystery and intrigue draped with futuristic gadgets and semi-science fiction trappings, Bond developed an expectation among fans wanting such things as ejector seats and submarine cars.

But alas, in this new grittier Bond, the technology although whiz-bang is still plausible. Some of it can currently be bought off the shelf. The new bond has done away with all of the science fiction elements that had become a trademark of the series of films.

THE FINAL JUDGMENT

All said, the newest installment of the James Bond series is quality film making and well worth the price of admission. The action scenes are thrilling. The women (and men) are both beautiful to look at and skilled actors.

Two minor points of caution.

1. The film is overly long. At 2 hours and 20 minutes, surely the editor could have trimmed out some of the slower scenes in this flick.

2. One scene involves a rather brutal torture of a naked Bond. (Thank God they didn’t get Roger Moore to do the strip-down in this scene). The violence inflicted upon Bond may be too disturbing for some viewers.


RATINGS
Overall: 7 out of 10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action
Sex: Adult situations, Male Nudity (no frontal)
Violence: Bloody deaths, torture
Special Effects: Minimal, but well done

CAST
Daniel Craig … James Bond
Eva Green … Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen … Le Chiffre
Judi Dench … M

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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