Friday, March 23, 2007
I'll be damned if Casino Royale isn't nearly unprecedented in the 007 franchise: an actual good movie. And this I say as a lifelong fan of the series. Watching it again yesterday, the first time since last summer, I was struck again by its script, which often rises well above rote exposition or single entendres, as had become the tradition, achieving real wit, bite, charm, sadness, menace. And the premise is brilliantly guarded: no Dr. Evil progenitors in underwater lairs, just one desperate money man in over his head. That the stakes here aren't world domination but $115 million dollars or so, played out (and for) over the course of a high roller's high rollers poker tournament, keep the movie from retreating into cartoonish bluster. Which I like but the restraint here is disarming. Enough can't be said about Daniel Craig as Bond: he owns the character as much anyone ever has and is certainly the best actor to play the part, capable of far more than his predecessors. The close of the movie, having finally found the mysterious Mr. White, is about as iconic a moment in the series as it's ever had: whoever thought to dress Craig to the absolute nines, standing there with a rifle, as he introduces himself in that famous way while the Bond theme begins, is an absolute genius. Love this movie. November 2008 brings the follow-up.