Movie Review: Casino Royale

Vesper Lynd: It doesn’t bother you; killing all those people?

James Bond: Well I wouldn’t be very good at my job if it did.

When a friend suggested going to see the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, I was more interested in a night at the movies than the movie itself. Not being much of a James Bond fan, if I was ever inclined to watch one of the previous movies, I was content to do it on the small screen in the comfort of my living room.

I’m sure that most of my reasons for not being crazy about previous Bond movies are the same things that would make people love them—the miraculous coincidences of his gadgets, the sexual puns and innuendo, his almost super-human ability to remain cool-headed amidst impending doom—instead, these gave me the attitude that if I’d seen one, I’ve seen them all.

But much to my surprise, once the opening credits began I knew that there was something different about Casino Royale. Instead of the artful silhouettes of nudes jumping around the screen, it was a brilliantly animated sequence that set me up for the action and themes of the movie. Plus, being a graphic designer myself, the artistry behind the credits was well worth the price of admission.

Daniel Craig (Munich, The Road To Perdition) was a brilliant choice as the new Bond. Though he’s handsome, he’s not the smooth, suave and debonair Bond that Pierce Brosnan was. Instead he’s rugged and visceral, like a cross between Steve McQueen and Mel Gibson.

Casino Royale is based on the first book in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and shows us how he became a “Double-O” agent and how he handles his first “mission.” It’s great to see the studio restart the James Bond franchise like this. The changes aren’t as drastic as the way the Batman franchise was restarted with the movie Batman Begins, but I really liked how much more realistic everything seemed to me. Bond makes mistakes. He trusts too much. He’s reckless. He also gets hurt and has to convalesce for a while. It’s also nice to be shown by the events in this movie why he is emotionally detached and distrustful in future stories.

The action in Casino Royale was top notch. There wasn’t any fancy camera work to disguise poor stunt work or fight choreography but just straight-forward shots to let us be amazed by what they were doing and to enjoy the ride.

The filmmakers also do a great job at making a movie that’s essentially about a high-stakes card game, exciting. For a poker-ignoramus like myself, they’re also able to explain the game enough for me to be interested in what happens next. I suppose that you could say that this movie was made to capitalize on all of the popularity poker is having right now, and I’m sure that’s true, but the card games were intermingled with enough intrigue and action that it never became dull or boring.

If you are concerned about the effects of gambling on teenagers, you might want to have them avoid this movie, otherwise I’d recommend it for anyone teen to adult who’s up for a good ride and a refreshing start to what was becoming a tired franchise.

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