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Movie Review: Casino Royale (2006)

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What is there to say about a film like this? James Bond, the biggest franchise in cinema history, has been modernized yet again. Still, whether or not you like the character and his adventures, the Bond films are significant — the key reason that you can see so much change in society by reviewing how the character and the material have changed.

Indeed, you can talk about how different actors have shaped the role in different ways, and wonder how much reflects their personality and how much reflects the times we are living in. The Bond we find in Daniel Craig is radically different from most other Bonds in one simple aspect — he is a workaholic.

From the get-go, M looks at the young Bond as someone inexperienced and is cautious about having promoted him to double 0 status. Bond has always been a pseudonym, and all his predecessors have long since died or retired. And yet, he willingly shows off his abilities by breaking into M's house.

Everything Craig does throughout the film reflects training and drive. In one of the early sequences, he tracks a man with a backpack, and in the course of the chase, he is repeatedly undermined by the man's strength and ability, but Bond is fully aware of his limitations and will often look for a quicker way to obtain his objective. He works smarter, not harder. And, uncomfortable with the thought of relying on others, he does everything himself.

That said, as with most Bond films, the technology has once again been updated, but instead of the usual scene with Q handing Bond a whole bunch of new gadgets which will come in handy throughout the film, he is simply set to his task. Of course, while the use of text messaging and the equipment used to restart his heart was clever, it was hardly cinematic when compared with submarine cars, the Moonraker, and satellite weaponry.

Maybe this reflects the more contemporary prevalence of technology that we have now entered into. We've come to accept that the next big thing is just around the corner, and our communications tools have become incredibly streamlined in just a few decades. And the average cinema-goer is way more tech savvy than they were even ten years ago, so why not just get on with it?

Like other postmodern films, the film is awash with homages for the true fans to pick up on. A great example is when Bond orders a shaken martini and everyone else at the table orders one as well. For the uninitiated, this little phenomenon reflects a motive behind the character, because shaking a martini dilutes the alcohol and allows a person to appear more drunk than they really are — an asset in a game of poker.

The attempt to develop a Bond with a soft spot underneath is nothing new, but a Bond film where characters experience trauma is. Bond's compassion, sitting under a cold shower with the leading lady, I personally felt a little rushed and dishonest, but at the same time it tried to bring the film one step further away from the cartoonish responses to death and destruction that have characterized previous films.

All up, what you need to remember when watching it is that Martin Campbell is attempting to restyle Bond for new generation. The product is darker cinematography and a certain gritty quality to the characters which makes up for where the writing falls a little short due to somewhat mechanical plotting.

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About Jonathan Scanlan

  • Johnny 5

    Bond is not a ‘pseudonym’.

    This movie is simply a reboot and an origin story rolled into one i.e. it takes place in a different ‘continuity universe’ to the previous movies, much as events in ‘Goldeneye’ disregarded the continuity of the Roger Moore movies.

    If you’re going to review a movie, at least do your research. That’s not asking much.