Monday, November 20, 2006

Review: Casino Royale

I never really paid much attention to Bond films, but there's a lot of buzz lately about this movie, make me curious only, so got myself to watch it yesterday. And it's safe to say it didn't disappoint.

I thought I was watching the wrong movie when the opening black and white scenes started playing. At least the intro was brief before kicking into the credits accompanied by a rather listenable theme sang by Chris Cornell (of Audioslave). And that signature Bond pose is more creatively handled than the usual walking-into-the-circle routine.

For a Bond film, this one has fewer action scenes compared to the previous incarnations, but when the actions do kick in, it's not some pyrotechnics and CGI explosive mayhem, just good ol' hand to hand action. This is old school Bond. Just check out the opening Parkour chase scene. Bloody terrific. It's just refreshing to see a Bond film without those high tech gadgets. The only thing that comes close to being high tech is probably Bond's GPS-enabled Sony Ericsson.

There's more room for character development and some interesting dialogues in this film, since this is sort of an "origins" story about how 007 become who he is now. You'll know why in later films he likes to flirt and prefers one night stands with women when in this one he is clearly so in love with one. That scene in the shower (he slowly hugs and comforts Vesper while both are wet) is the best scene IMHO. Few dialogues are spoken yet so many emotions evoked.

As for James Bond himself, much has been said about Daniel Craig being the best Bond since Sean Connery. Personally, I haven't seen any 007 film before Goldeneye, so I can't compare. And I was one of those who wished that Clive Owen will get the role after watching those BMW The Hire shorts. But Daniel Craig proved that he definitely has more charisma than Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan has that elegant classy thing, but Craig is more...dark and edgy, plus a better physique (those killer abs...) and those blue eyes that literally glow in the dark. Can you imagine Brosnan doing that chase scene?

Eva Green is quite good as a Bond girl who is mature, elegant and actually never stripped for the benefit of the audience! Me thinks she is hotter when not in makeup...but man, she is hot.....

The villian Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) actually made me sympathized for him at some point in the movie, oddly......

My only gripe is that the movie's a little long clocking in 2 hours 30 minutes. The poker game alone lasts almost an hour, but it sure has tension and suspense going on.

Overall, this is really a good movie, entertaining and intelligent. After Batman Begins, this is another successful reboot of a fading franchise. I am now actually looking forward to Bond 22. (damn if only all movie sequels are as good as this...)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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