Monday, November 27, 2006

Movie Review: Casino Royale

The first time I read the novel more than a decade ago, I never thought this novel was movie material. The novel was an intense drama about a British Intelligence spy (I think it was called MI-5 and not MI-6 in this book) caught in a tense card game, followed by some torture chamber etc. The lead character James Bond (who was described as one with a scar on his face/back?) was completely different from the Roger Moores and Connerys I had seen on the screen. In the books, he was intense, barely used double entendres and was more human. I went to this movie with a lot of skepticism. On one hand, movies based on Fleming's novels tend to have a semblance of a story line, which was completely absent in the last 4 Bond movies and needlessly over-emphasized in the previous two Dalton movies. On the other hand how do you make a movie based on a novel that dedicated 70% of page space on a card game?

The movie begins by violating a sacred Bond tradition. This seems to be the theme of the movie - violate as many Bond movie traditions as possible. A typical Bond movie has 4-5 acts. The first act is a pre-title sequence. This act immediately follows the 'United Artists' banner and you see James Bond walking from left to right on the screen (Connery did this with a funny hat) turns around and shoots at the camera. The camera bleeds red and the circle that focuses on bond enlarges and takes us to an adrenalin filled opening scene which is followed by a semi-animated 'title credits' sequence involving guns, negative images of naked women, Bond and more naked women silhouttes. Then 3-4 acts follow in an episodic structure, which involve James Bond travelling to exotic locales, ordering martinis, saying his name in a yoda-like reverse fashion, doing hawt chics with funny names, play cards and finally in a separate 5th act called the climax sequence - James Bond escapes a carefully orchestrated near death sequence kills off the villian and saves London, Queen and the world (warning: although its an awesome awesome video that will thrill you if you r a bond fan - the next video is 21 minutes long - see it in the end).

This movie's pre-title act starts in Black and White, it follows the latest Batman/Spiderman movie tradition of going back to the beginning of the lead character's story/career, a time when James Bond is not yet a '00' agent. The act ends with James Bond shooting someone and the circle hovers over him and directly leads us to the title sequence. Thereby deviating from the usual structure. I did not quite buy the 'you need to kill two people to get a licence to kill' looped logic. It seemed silly but it made up for a good opening scene. The animated title-credits sequence was poorly done and the song was not in line with Bassey, Duran Duran or Louis Armstrong classics. Given the constraints of the novel, it is understandable that the action sequences need to be invented or contrived to keep the pace of the movie interesting. In that context, the act following the title song is simply awesome. This bond is young, ruthless, athletic and has tons of energy. It was a physically enthralling action scene and I was impressed. The other action sequences are interspersed in the middle of the card game sequences and blend well with the flow of the story without appearing contrived.

Other obvious places where Bond tradition has been violated are - Felix Leiter, who is Bond's trusted CIA friend comes back (he keeps getting injured, dead or disposed in many movies/novels). He is also African American. He never appeared in the Casino Royale novel but finds a place in the movie. Bond also doesn't give a damn if his martini is shaken or stirred. Strange but acceptable. M still continues to be a woman. Bond breaks into her house and almost utters her real name. Yes! it is not a random symbol given by the British Intelligence. If I remember my novels correctly, M is short for Admiral Sir Mercilles Miles (can anybody confirm this?). I am not sure what a woman's name in this place would be. The movie's biggest weakness is the the final act, which violates the usual huge action sequence of exploding ships (even space ships) and buildings. The romantic emotional bond ( I missed Brosnan in this sequence and was the only time I thought Brosnan might've done a better job) that you see in the final half hour is against the pace of the movie and made the movie un-bondish. In purely business terms this is being puristic at the cost of ignoring your audience. Otherwise the movie is simply awesome, really entertaining and renews interest in this wonderful franchise.

The Actor Who plays Bond: It is inevitable for Bond fans to argue on 'who is the best bond' topic every time a new actor takes up the Walther PPK. The debate usually has been "does he replace Connery as the best bond ever?". I liked Daniel Craig. I was a huge Brosnan fan (very obvious since I have seen each episode of R'Steele gzillion times) and I was pre-disposed to thinking Daniel Craig did not have the class or the panache to play Bond. Well! I was right - he does not. But I was wrong in that Bond does not need class or panache. Roger Moore made bond an upper class, snooty cricket playing grandpa Bond with a country club membership. His witticism and aristocracy made Mike Myers a superstar than make him the best bond ever. Dalton, a really fine actor, played a serious classless bond who was less physical but more shakesperian. Brosnan, I thought blended the right bond. He had the style and built of Sean Connery, he had charm and he was a really fine actor. Plus he was a box office king. Unfortuntely his movies never had a story line that was even remotely sensible (frankly his movies never depended on a story at all) and added to that Brosnan got bond 10 years too late.

Daniel Craig is a brute. M directly compares the 2 bonds. If I remember correctly, Brosnan was called a 'sexist mysogynist dinosaur. A relic of the cold war' by Dame Judi Dench. Here, she calls Craig a 'blunt instrument'. These were the respective Brand positioning of the two James Bonds. The difference between the two is that this story allows Craig to deliver on his positioning. He is young, so full of adrenalin, intensely physical and moves like a cross between Jackie Chan & Schwarzenegger. He presents a different Bond. A simple no nonsense cold blooded killer. He makes mistakes and learns from them. He is closer to Sean Connery in the spectrum than Moore. Connery could play the brute but he had class. Connery's walking style (the way he leans on the counter in the theraphy club in Thunderball ) - just oozes style and class. Craig hasn't had an opportunity to showcase that side of him - yet. However, when he finally announces himself in the closing lines of the movie - he makes us stand up and take notice.


anantha said...

M's name (in the Bond books/movies) was Sir Miles Messervy. It was revealed in "Man with the Golden Gun", the final Bond novel that Fleming wrote.

In real life the first head of MI-6 was Sir Masfield Cumming, hence the "M".

Oh btw, my favorite Bond trivia is this - who was the inspiration behind the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld (the bald villanious guy with a cat)? It was cricket commentator Henry Blofeld's father who was a high school classmate of Ian Fleming!

Bharath Sattanathan said...

I am still waiting for its release in the "Kangaroo Land", even though it has taken strides in India. What a shame?

(Yeah, its true!)

Venkat said...

your movie reviews are a class apart man..

VC said...

anantha: are you sure about the Blofeld trivia thingy? or, did you hear it in some quiz in India, like the Vivekanada-Michelle Pfeiffer one?

raghuveeran said...

second half of the movie was damn slow...which made me pee in the seats...the most awaited unbondish film in the history...

this is my review:

Hawkeye said...


yes! you are right! miles messervy was the name. I have heard about the blofield trivia before. ESB was leader of SPECTRE and gets killed in thunderball book.

Hawkeye said...


i cant believe its not yet released there. its unbelievable. is this usual or is it some aberration

Hawkeye said...


:-) thanks dude.

Hawkeye said...


ive heard it too but am not sure if its true.

Hawkeye said...


read ur review - 4/10 too low. :-)

Keshi said...

Is Craig really worth a watch? :)


Babs said...


Its releasing late in downunder cos piracy is not a major problem as compared to Asia here. Besides the market is small. Thats the major reason..Imagine "The Descent" only released now....but this happens only with some movies..I guess mostly the distributors cutting printing cost.

Hawkeye said...


he is. u better believe it.


i always though aus was a primary market. even in india they r releasing it first day

Anonymous said...

Obviously you dont seem to think about Casino Royale in the same way as Don or Rajnikanths movie. Werent people shooting at bond all over the movie and somehow miraculously he seems to dodge....oh wait i forgot, it was a white mans movie. Of course how can they go wrong in anything.

Hawkeye said...


casino royale was way better than bond inspite of people shooting at bond and missing.

oh ya... its sooo good because its a white man's movie. please do think of it that way.

Anonymous said...

I simply love Online casino, I play every day and I keep coming back for more.
I am not a problem gambler because I earn enough money to be able to support
myself and continue my online gambling time. I truly enjoy the relaxation time I
get and the ease with which can use and access online casino's. I hate the
stigma that is associated with gambling online as I view it as a release, an
escape and real "me" time. If it were to become a problem then I have no doubt
that I could and would simply cut online casino from my daily vocabulary. As it
stands though, gambling is simply something I enjoy and the internet and online
play are just a good way to access casino's. Playing against the house means I
never have to worry or feel about actually taking money from someone else as it
is only the online casino that would be paying me off for my wins. Talking about
wins, I have had some great wins in my online gambling career – my biggest so
far is $5000 on roulette, on one spin. I am fit, happy, healthy and I love life
and the online casino is just part of my every day existence and escape.

Anonymous said...

Technology is ever increasing in the online world and Online businesses are
springing up every second to get on board the information super highway - "The
World Wide Web". We already have online auctions which have played a major role
in efficiency for everyday consumers to get bargain based products from all
areas of the world, but now we are faced with a new dilemma, Online Gambling and
online casinos. As a concerned member of the human race, I'm not sure that
Online gambling would be a legitimate business that benefits us as a society.
The big questions is, are the positives of online gambling greater than the

Casino, Pokies, Bingo, slots and gambling centers all around the world are
already the cause of many family breakdowns and financial woes. Now we're taking
it to the next level – going online for our gambling. With the rate of young
adults participating in global gaming communities, by the billions, Gaming
companies are encountering a massive profit / money making facility just by
traditional arcade game play – which is absolutely fine. However, now parts of
the world are investing heavily in developments of Online Gambling and Online
Casino software to target global hopefuls in chances of winning their Million
dollars or their Austin Martins. How are we to monitor companies that provide
online gambling facilities? In some countries under developed countries, hungry
scheming predators are lurking about waiting for the next 'big idea' in ripping
consumers and the wonderful world wide web offers to do that. Where else can you
build a money making machine that can directly be linked to an offshore business
account in the British Virgin Islands and be able to people off? Online Casinos
are a major threat to our global socio economics and are a nuisance to the
Online community and the community at large. If I want to gamble I'd spend my
money and go to Las Vegas, instead of typing in my Credit card details and stare
at my laptop hoping to win money. Say no to Online Gambling and Online Casinos.
I sure did.

Anonymous said...

The mathematics of online gambling are always against the individual. There
is no way that a professional gambler could ever say otherwise and yet how come
there are people that make money every day playing and gambling online every
day? Simply, they employ good strategies that work more in their favour than the
average person. The main goal of the professional gambler is to either target
weaknesses in online gambling or online casino's or play the other people off
and win their money. The professional gambler is not bothered by the winning or
the losing they simply focus on how they can win more and the best methods to
employ in order to get to their goal. Bet big to recoup loses is a good method,
a simple and yet effective method which can be employed on the roulette table by
betting on red or black in roulette. The method is simple, if you lose then
double up the bet and repeat until you win, then go back to the original amount
and then repeat until you are winning consistently. Another method on roulette
is taking a section of the wheel, like betting on a row of numbers next to each
other. That way if the wheel lands in a region consistently then there is
greater chance of it being on one of your numbers instead of on random text.

craftmatic bed said...

black mold exposureblack mold symptoms of exposurewrought iron garden gatesiron garden gates find them herefine thin hair hairstylessearch hair styles for fine thin hairnight vision binocularsbuy night vision binocularslipitor reactionslipitor allergic reactionsluxury beach resort in the philippines

afordable beach resorts in the philippineshomeopathy for big with great mineral makeup bargainsmineral makeup wholesalersprodam iphone Apple prodam iphone prahacect iphone manualmanual for P 168 iphonefero 52 binocularsnight vision Fero 52 binocularsThe best night vision binoculars here

night vision binoculars bargainsfree photo albums computer programsfree software to make photo albumsfree tax formsprintable tax forms for free craftmatic air bedcraftmatic air bed adjustable info hereboyd air bedboyd night air bed lowest pricefind air beds in wisconsinbest air beds in wisconsincloud air beds

best cloud inflatable air bedssealy air beds portableportables air bedsrv luggage racksaluminum made rv luggage racksair bed raisedbest form raised air bedsaircraft support equipmentsbest support equipments for aircraftsbed air informercialsbest informercials bed airmattress sized air beds

bestair bed mattress antique doorknobsantique doorknob identification tipsdvd player troubleshootingtroubleshooting with the dvd playerflat panel television lcd vs plasmaflat panel lcd television versus plasma pic the bestThe causes of economic recessionwhat are the causes of economic recessionadjustable bed air foam The best bed air foam

hoof prints antique equestrian printsantique hoof prints equestrian printsBuy air bedadjustablebuy the best adjustable air bedsair beds canadian storesCanadian stores for air beds

migraine causemigraine treatments floridaflorida headache clinicdrying dessicantair drying dessicantdessicant air dryerpediatric asthmaasthma specialistasthma children specialistcarpet cleaning dallas txcarpet cleaners dallascarpet cleaning dallas

sexy said...