calcus: ({Casino Royale} I have blood on my hands)
[personal profile] calcus
My (spoiler laden) Casino Royale review. Warning: Obnoxiously long and occasionally just straight-up obnoxious. Feel free to skip. :P



I think that this was the best of the post-Cold War Bond movies, for sure and it's certainly up there with the other Bond films as well. It's not that I think that they were all bad recently - I didn't mind, say, The World Is Not Enough - but they seemed to lose their focus somewhat after the Cold War, with no easy (PC) villain in sight. They solved that pretty well here by having a non-politically affiliated banker as the main villain.

The Bond girls or "You can take the next one"

There...weren't really any. Or, really, there were and nobody really played them as Bond women. Caterina Murino's character Solange had all the landmarks of a Bond girl who was played by someone just acting the role she was given rather than the male-fantasy, sex-object of a Bond girl and it worked because she didn't put me to sleep, as must Bond girls do. The only one (again, recently - the old Bond films really do need to put into a category of their own separate from the more recent ones) that was even mildly entertaining was Famke Janssen's Xenia Onatopp and, well, she made me laugh.

I actually liked the "Bond women" in this film. I even liked Valenka, though that may be because she said all of three words in the entire film, which meant that I didn't really have the opportunity to dislike her. A pro for her was that she didn't fall all over Bond the way that villain’s girlfriends/wives/whatever (and Luther's girlfriends in the Superman movies) all seem too.

Vesper Lynd, Eva Green's character, was unique, even in terms of recent action films not just Bond movies, in that they gave her power without it being a distinctly masculine power that either stemmed from the man or was a mirror of it. She had control of the money and, in the stairway, assisted in saving Bond from the man attacking them in a realistic way. She wouldn't have been able to take him physically in the same way that Bond could (she was an accountant, not a spy or a secret agent) but when Bond had the villain on the ground, strangling him, with the villain having reached the gun dropped earlier, she comes away from her position pressed up against the wall, out of the way, and smashes his hand repeatedly against the floor, until the man finally dies. This seems even more important considering later revelations. She then has a genuine seeming reaction to the event, which also takes on greater significance later, which, shock of all shocks, does not led to sex with Bond, which makes sense in more ways than the one considering, once again, later revelations. And when Bond says, during one of the breaks between the poker sequences, "You want to do what to me?" she stares at him blankly and says "You've lost me completely."

On a related note, hair, make-up and costume design. Solange had the most beautiful fitted, pink dress that was very, very feminine and very well designed. I'm not big on pink as a colour generally but the dress itself was gorgeous. Ivana Milicevic had an extremely interesting hair-cut as the villain’s girlfriend (one that made her appear, literally, two-faced, which wasn't actually carried over into the film itself but is interesting to note anyway).

However, Eva Green's make-up (and some of the costume choices) were...wrong. Really, really wrong. The make-up was much too heavy (she looks best in the scene where she's without visible make-up actually) and some of the costume choices were awkward and, while that was purposeful early in the film, they were actually too awkward really. She just appeared foolish and some of the dresses she wore late in the film lent too far the other way, especially in the hospital late in the film. The red dress she wore in her final scenes in the film were, however, perfect, a lovely dress and bright and easy to see, which was an easy way of communicating visually that she wanted to be seen, wanted to be followed.

The Villain or Mr. "I believe in a reasonable rate of return."

This guy wasn't all that chilling (he was, after all, a banker) until you reach the torture scene near the end but that's still better than some recent Bond villains, such as the villain in Die Another Day, whose name I can't even remember.

The scene where he tortures Bond is laden with homo-eroticism (discussed in more detail later) and you really do believe that this guy would blow up a plane just to up his share price and he was, as with everyone else in this film, exceptionally well cast. In a different actors hands lines such as when he recites exactly how much money he's lost when he fails in his plan to engineer the falling of an airline stock price would have seemed silly and would have made me giggle and roll my eyes yet the actor sells it. All the actors work hard in their roles and Mr. Mads Mikkelsen is no exception.

This' getting very long so I'll move on right to the end: Mr. James Bond

I've heard Daniel Craig be described as a 'character actor' and, while the only films I've seen of his are Tomb Raider (which, um, sucked) and Munich, I'd say that's true. He made good choices as an actor, I think, in the way he played the role and that helped. He did a lot of the stunts himself, as is so fashionable these days, and it showed. Clearly, all the criticism that was levelled at him when he was cast did something and here's hoping that, having proved himself, he won't become 'lazy' or comfortable in the next film, which I don't think he will. Of course proved himself in terms of box office success should be interesting.

In terms of the character himself, this Bond is really quite different from earlier incarnations. He bleeds (and has to change his shirt afterwards) and carries around wounds, or more correctly the bandage from the wound, he receives early in the film til the end of the film. He is scratched and bruised and looks more like a boxer than the suave Bond played by Brosnan. He trips, he falls, he shows hints that maybe he really isn't a sociopath after all. It - God forbid - even rains. Most shockingly, after being tortured Bond doesn't get up and walk away - he goes to a hospital and spends, I would assume, a fairly large amount of time recovering.

I've read several reviews that claim that he "bedded" Solange but he actually didn't. They kissed rather heatedly on the floor, her phone rang, she tells Bond its her husband and where he's going and that they have "all night" because her husband won't be back until morning he says in that case we'll need champagne, she goes to change into something more comfortable or, I don't actually remember, go to the bathroom or something, and he orders champagne for her and leaves. Yeah, that's right, leaves. I was impressed. :P

The scene where Bond is stripped naked, placed on a chair that has had the bottom cut out and has his genitals attacked with a thick rope by the main villain, Le Chiffre, which is almost as homoerotic as it sounds. The sequence is so brutal that a joke is required and through making the choice verbally to continue suffering rather than reveal what Le Chiffre wants is what allows Bond to be a hero in fact and not just because he happens to be Bond and the star of an action film, is the sequence that earns Bond the short sequence in which he gives up ‘being Bond’ long enough to hire a yacht and get from Monteagro to Venice.

The film ends with a shot of Bond holding a machine gun and looking very elegant in a navy blue version of a suit worn by Sean Connery in an earlier film, a nice, subtle homage, I think, to the man that made the role.

Conclusion: Very good film. The lack of an invisible car made me a very happy woman (Alias did the gadgets and, frankly, did it better) and the intensity that Daniel Craig lent to the role - and the solid performances from the other main actors in the cast - made up for some slightly lose writing and an overly long running time. I love action films and this is a very, very good example of what can be done when they're done right. :)

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