Saturday, March 10, 2007

Casino Royale: A Brief Rave

Saw the new Bond film last night, not expecting a great deal. I was pleasantly impressed. Amazed even. Easily (easily) the best Bond movie since From Russia with Love; frankly, it is the best Bond movie ever. The reason is that it is the first of the films that manages to be even faintly realistic, that is character as much as plot driven. The plot in fact is nothing special, but the handling of the scenes is refreshingly raw and gritty (not quite Bourne Identity, but close enough); for the first time ever, James Bond seems like a real personality and not just a fantasy figure, capable of suffering and other human emotions. Special praises go to Craig, who is a revelation. Eva Green doesn't do badly either: tho she weirdly fluctuates between divinely pretty and almost mannish (she looks way better without make-up), Green is extremely affecting as the first flesh and blood Bond girl. What really distinguishes this movie from other Bonds, however, is the touch of a real writer - Paul Haggis, whose hand is evident throughout the proceedings. There is actually something going on beneath the scenes now, psychological undercurrents, character dynamics, tensions; at least half the time, this is not just a good Bond movie: it's a good movie. I didn't even notice that the Bond theme wasn't being used until moments before the end when it finally appears - I had almost forgotten I was watching a Bond movie at all (yes, that's a compliment). These last few moments, after all that has gone before, made me very nearly euphoric. Never mind the fact that they celebrate Bond's acceptance of his fundamental soullessness and embracing his dubious destiny as a cold-blooded killer fantasy hero! This is cracking entertainment and final, unexpected proof that there is life in the old dodo yet.

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