So, I’ve been a bit busy lately. I have all-important exams approaching. Instead of writing something new, I thought I’d take the easy way out and dig through my old writing bits and pieces.
I found this review of the James Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’ that I wrote a few years ago. It made me smile and remember how very into Daniel Craig I was at the time. I mean, I still like him, but I was pretty obsessed back then. I was around sixteen when I wrote this, so I think that adequately explains… it.
Anyway, here it is (in all its unedited glory):
My Review of Casino Royale
Before watching the first of the ‘rebooted’ James Bond movies, I had only seen the 60’s Sean Connery films. To me, Roger Moore’s James Bond seemed misogynistic and avuncular while Pierce Brosnan annoys me. George Lazenby will forever be thought of as the 6th Bond whom no one remembers and I can’t take Timothy Dalton seriously.
Casino Royale is a genuinely great movie and holds a spot on my coveted favourite movies list. An entire wall of my bedroom is devoted to its movies stills. Naturally, half of them are topless Daniel Craig shots.
This brings me to my next subject. Oh, Dan (in my imagination, he has grown fond enough of me to permit this nickname). With his muscular build, piercing blue eyes and knack for acting, how could I fail to love…uh…respect him. Younger, blonde and actually English, Daniel Craig plays a stubborn and unpolished James Bond. Fresh after his graduation to double O status, this new Bond is detached and ruthless with an ego to feed.
Whilst filming ‘Casino Royale’ Eva Green listened to Tom Wait’s album ‘Closing Time’ as she thought it fit the movie’s mood. This is somewhat irrelevant but an interesting tidbit and part of why I like her so much. Her character Vesper Lynd is both a complex and developed character. She is intelligent but occasionally overwhelmed; bristly but eventually softens. A far cry from other strictly plaything Bond girls; she is deeply embedded into the plot.
Mads Mikkelsen is suitably creepy as the Bond villain; his physical defect front and centre. The character Le Chiffre is soft spoken and undeniably disconcerting. The fact that he is alternatively desperate then nonchalant makes him all the more formidable.
The story plays out in a handful of exotic and elegant locales, with a beautiful musical score. One minute deliciously subtle and moody then exciting and rousing the next.
Having the introduction in black and white enhanced the grisliness of the ‘first kill’ death scene. The creative transition into the James Bond barrel sequence practically confirmed that I was going to enjoy the rest of the movie and the awesome (and might I add relevant) title sequence exacerbated that excitement.
James Bond chases a man into a government embassy and kills him, blowing most of the embassy to smithereens in the process. The special effects are top-notch and the stunts are well coordinated, executed and filmed. That aerial shot of the two men climbing a really high construction thing undoubtedly made it into all the trailers for the film.
Emerging from the beach in a white bikini = Simple and classic. Riding a white horse along the beach front wearing a lime green bikini while kids chase and look adoringly at you = a tad overdone. This entrance is something that grated me a little; I thought it was somewhat contrived. Daniel Craig’s emergence from the water, however, I thought was a highlight of the film. Just because, you know, it adds a lot to the story and he looked like he enjoyed his swim.
This seems as good a time as any to talk about the outfits worn. Daniel Craig looks dashing in the tuxedo that Vesper gets for him but is heart-stoppingly handsome in his navy blue suit at the end of the movie. Also, Miss Lynd is the owner of a few designer outfits that I’ve made it my mission to recreate.
On a train, Vesper Lynd sits across from Bond and introduces herself immediately. This is how Bond characters should be announced; not garishly otherwise it seems as if the filmmakers are striving too hard to make it memorable. Although, if this is the only genuine tiff I have with the film, then that says a lot. The verbal sparring between Bond and Vesper is one of my favourite scenes in the movie and her character is soon established to the audience.
I know nothing of card games except fish and snap, so the Casino scenes could easily have grown stale to me. Fortunately, there is enough to keep me hooked: fake bluffs, poisoned drinks and subtle tension music.
My mum doesn’t share my enthusiasm for this movie (she dislikes unhappy endings) but her favourite scene is the ‘comforting in the shower.’ I might add that it was (my good friend) Dan’s idea for Vesper to be fully clothed instead of wearing just underwear as the script called for. He argued that she would have been too upset to remove her clothes and I love him forever for this. I have nothing against showering in the semi-buff, but he is right; this way it’s obvious that she is upset and not just hankering for a washing.
Now we come to possibly the epitome of the Bond films newly discovered realism: the torture scene. I winced and cracked up during this scene. Le Chiffre is right; there is no need for any elaborate torture scenes, this one is simple, effective and laugh out loud funny. I’m sorry but “No! No! A little to the left!” is hilarious.
Cue the escape and the recovery scene that seemingly takes place in a picturesque villa. Anyway, here is where Vesper reveals her feelings for Bond and vice versa. Now, I would describe myself as a romantic but the dialogue was a little sappy for my standards; not to mention Bond standards. However, I guess it’s necessary to indicate genuine feelings between them. James Bond ostensibly enjoys it so much that he decides to hang up his Bond suit and Vesper and he bill and coo at each other in various other picturesque places. I’m just kidding, the romance is nicely done and the two stars have chemistry to make it believable.
Not. Vesper spots some guy who looks weird (no such thing as a normal looking bad guy) and scowls, so she’s like evil, now. Once Bond discovers this, he follows her red, dark-haired figure through the crowd (a throwback to a previous Bond) and interrupts Vesper handing over the silver briefcase of money. A nail gun fight ensues.
Vesper’s death scene is poignant; very much Death in Venice. I like that she kisses his hands (like he did in the shower) to resolve him of guilt and he tries to save her, despite her betrayal. Incidentally, when I die, I want to be trapped in an elevator wearing a pretty red dress while Daniel Craig valiantly attempts to rescue me. If only I could find some way of not dying, we could live happily ever after…but I digress.
The now elegiac Vesper theme plays while Bond mourns and I can hear the lapping water in my head as I write this; an example of memorable filmmaking. Note to self: Dan’s eyes are that much bluer when upset.
A grieving Bond calls ‘M’ and utters a line that I’m glad the producers staunchly defended. “The bitch is dead.” Yet another reminder that this is no light-hearted romp of a film.
The last scene involves a foot being shot, Dan in his lovely blue suit and his embittered delivery of that oft repeated line:
“The name’s Bond…James Bond.” Cue the classic music. See, makers of Quantum of Solace? (Don’t deny that you’re not avidly reading this) That’s how you end a film; that is a fitting prelude to the infamous Bond theme.