Casino Royale With Cheese

So Saturday night Kimi and I each saw different showings of Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig as the new (now blonde) Bond. This is a back-to-basics Bond, with no Q and few gadgets, basically rebooting the series, starting off with how Bond was promoted to double-oh status. (Hard to believe this is the 21st James Bond movie; it was definitely time for a reboot.)

In general, critics called the movie too long, and felt that it spent too much time in the casino playing Hold’Em (updated from baccarat in the original novel). I disagree — I thought the movie could have been longer, and as a poker player I appreciated the poker scenes.

Craig, who I don’t think I’ve ever seen in anything before, is easily the best actor to ever play Bond, although the best Bond in my mind remains Sean Connery, with Pierce running a close second. But I think in time Craig’s stock could rise further in my mind.

I was interested in the idea that they were setting up a multi-movie story arc (if rumors about Bond 22 can be believed). I was also fascinated by the Jackie Chan-esque free-running/Parkour action sequence at the beginning of the movie.

I definitely recommend the movie overall. It captures a lot of the essence of Bond while making it a more serious affair. One powerful scene focuses on the emotional impact of all the killing; no previous Bond movie would have spent the time on that portion. I like how the new movie throws away a lot of the ridiculousness while giving room for the legend to grow. There are still unbelievable elements (I’d love if someone made an action series in which the hero is not somehow able to miraculously dodge bullets even when sprayed from a machine gun, or didn’t depict that the best way for a woman to run away from danger is by holding hands with the hero). But no American spy series comes close — Bourne? XXX? Mission Impossible? all laughable in comparison — although it’s true that I’ve always loved Bond, even as a kid playing with the Corgi toy cars.

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