Casino Royale: Bonding session

Shouldn’t really surprise you to find out I’m a bit of a Bondfreak. Favourite: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Least favourite: Octopussy. Terrible film. Best Bond: Connery. Worst: Brosnan. Though unfair given the material he was given. Some shining moments too. All of my Bond fandom was built, generally, out of seeing Casino Royale. I devoured up whatever books (still reading most of them) I could get my hands on, spent a Summer in a pseudo-coma of intoxicating myself with that suave character’s character. I still have some films to see, the recently announced giant box-set thing is already on my Birthday list.

Except, the film that started it all for me… it’s one of my favourites. No Bond film has grabbed me like this thing, and Daniel Craig just has that perfect swagger. He’s a truly delicious gentleman and commandeers the screen with such audacity it’s hard to remember that he’s actually Daniel Craig. That’s a good sign of a great James Bond in the making, when you can’t tell where the actor ends and ‘he’ begins. Casino Royale was followed by Quantum of Solace (which we’ll take a look at next week) and now being led into Skyfall. I’m not passing judgement on Craig just yet, so far however he’s excellent.

Casino Royale is a film that breathes in Bond. The gadgets and the ‘Bond girl’ and the poker and the suavity and the action. All of it is under one umbrella of non-stop breathless Bondish pace. It’s more of an origins story, perfect for a reboot, and it gets to the bottom of some of the emotional baggage that Bond carries. It’s quite weird actually if this is meant to be the first story and just how psychologically traumatised the character must be by the end of it all. Although, it’s probable ‘James Bond’ is just a codename. It’s one of the cooler theories, and in fact forms the basis for a particular Bondfilm idea that I want so badly.

In all instances, Casino Royale should not have really passed the ‘franchise’ test. It had new actors, new blood, was a ‘reboot’ (not heavily cliché at the time) and had lost some of the silly ‘camp’ Cold War feel. The Brosnan era was home to that nineties buzz, that kick of the modern era and the end of the Soviet Union. No real conflict truly characterized the Brosnan films other than ‘fear’, here with the Craig era we now have terrorism, revenge and finally a more character-central piece. We understand Bond, we identify with him, we finally emotionally connect to this hard-to-crack spy. We have a… HA! BONDING SESSION! LOL!

Except not since the final scenes of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service have I truly leapt emotionally for such a character. The opening to Die Another Day was another moment in which I could have so easily fallen into emotional heaps over Bond but, instead, that film turned out to be utter turd. It killed Bond completely, requiring the reboot we praise today. I think it’s just a solid, well-directed and incredibly ‘Bond’ Bond film.

Really nothing to critique actually, other than some little niggles I have with the art direction and the cliffhanger just begging for a franchise. Doesn’t really fit well into Bond as a series. Continuity has never been its biggest charm, references and allusions to past Bond films crop up throughout the entire series, but nothing as blatant as a cliffhanger. That’s where we’ll actually pick up with the next critique corner, straight into Quantum of Solace. A film which, quite frankly, is not as bad as you think it is. Expect that to be posted up tomorrow.

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