Friday, November 17, 2006

Bond Is Back

James Bond is back on the screen in the form of actor Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. He is the best Bond since the golden days of Sean Connery. But he would not have managed this without a good script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis. Direction is handled with suitable style by Martin Campbell.

The script is the true saving grace of the franchise because Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan were betrayed by poor scripts. Roger Moore was capable of playing Bond, but the producers opted for bigger gadgets, absurdly indistructable villains and weak story lines populated with smarmy humor. Dalton, a good actor, lacked something as Bond and Brosnan's high-pitched voice just did not fit the role.

This film avoids the outrageous gadgets that began to populate the films starting with Thunderball. It still offers some excellent stunts and action scenes, especially the chase in Madagascar early in the film. Wisely the story backtracks to where Bond first earns his 00 designation. It creates some interesting conflicts in the character that I hope get explored in later titles.

But, there is one big negative. The bloody thing goes on far too long. At 144 minutes (it felt longer) it gets hard to sit through the last act. The set-piece sequence at Miami airport, while exciting, could easily be cut without having a negative impact on the film. By the time the big poker game (no sissy Chemin De Fer for this Bond) at Casino Royale ends, the audience is ready to go home. Sadly, the movie overstays its welcome.

Performances are good. Mads Mikkelsen, as villain Le Chiffre has a face that looks like a blend of a young Peter Lorre and Henry Silva. And what he does with that face is marvelous. Eva Green is impressive as lead Bond girl Vesper Lynd and handles the part with ease. The score by David Arnold sounds a lot like John Barry's work earlier in the series and it is the best score since Barry left the series. Other technical credits are also very good.

It would be interesting if the producers would consider remaking some of the earlier titles. Moonraker and Man With The Golden Gun both deserved better than they got and Diamonds Are Forever was very weak, too.

So pack your survival gear and head to your nearest multiplex and welcome James Bond back to the big screen.


Post a Comment