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Posted on 11/18/12 06:47 PM
One of cinema's most favorite iconic series is obviously in dubious hands when the protagonist is subjected to using the natural logic of riding a sixty-foot wave to infiltrate a North Korean military base. Yes, that was the introduction to Pierce Bronson's final vehicle "Die Another Day," and along with the invisible car (seriously?), his final outing obviously accelerated the self-parody and sardonic elements within the Bond universe to a ridiculous extent. Similar to Schumacher's antics with "Batman and Robin," Bronson's final film left the pop-culture icon within a facetious state. Despite its success at the Box-Office, MGM obviously wanted an authentic entry that would subject one of cinema's most beloved character to respectable proportions, and it's no understatement that "Casino Royale" is most definitely Bond's defibrillator. Director Martin Campbell's choice of creating the film as a prequel to Bond's beginnings evidently provides flexibility within handling the Idiosyncratic character with refreshing characteristics. A new bond that ditches the nostalgia elements of ridiculous gadgets and sex-obsessed characteristics, which in return provides a window to genuine emotion. Oppose to watching a ritual affair of generic and artificial characteristics, Campbell is willing to explore the essential components of what makes Bond, James Bond.
As stated, "Casino Royale" introduces us to Bond before his 007 status. After brutally and successfully stopping a terrorist attack, Bond first mission consist of stopping an international terrorist banker Le Chiffre (Mikkelson) through a high-stake poker game located at Casino Royale.
It's most definitely not an understatement to claim that many, many Bond films are either bloated or convoluted. The majority of entries are all formula; continuously attempting to cramp in too many essential characteristics: whether it be the ridiculous gadgets, beautiful woman or cringe-worthy dialogue, most entries fail to focus on a central story. Thankfully, Royale identifies this and simply focuses on the basics; it strips away the ridiculous and superfluous concepts that gives its narrative room to breath - thanks to the beautiful pacing of the screenplay. Furthermore, Royale really only consist of four essential action sequences - each one as breathtaking as the next. However, one of the most refreshing aspects within "Casino Royale" is that action seems to arrive organically rather than seeming forced (looking at you Quantum of Solace). Additionally, with a lesser focus on the action aspect, Campbell allows himself to tell a realistic, emotional and engaging story. And while some of the plot elements seem adventitious, it never stretches to the point of being ridiculed; in fact, this along side "Dr. No" and "From Russia With Love" could well be the epitome of a Bond that is grounded through a sense of reality.
Without an overload on action; "Casino Royale" actually has time to explore the emotional predicaments of its central character rather than walking away from a generic affair that only reuses its ritual characteristics (Well I guess it's difficult to create a continues character after twenty-two entries). This is quite possibly why Craig's first outing succeeds over other Bond films; Campbell is willing to explore Bond internally rather than keeping it external.
As always, Bond consist of a egotistical nature, simply doing what he wants and not giving a damn. However, a noticeable change within Royale universe is its handling of women; rather than being sexual objects -well to be fair there is one (only one!?)- and passive entertainments for Bond use, the woman contain a central focus to Bond's internal decisions. To begin with, there is obviously M played by the brilliant Judi Dench. An immensely welcomed relationship that is continually being developed over the course of Craig's outings (apparently this is resonant for "Skyfall"). M is very much Bond's auspice, a woman that ultimately keeps him grounded within his egotistical nature and the only woman that Bond seems to trust. Her actions resemble Alfred purposes within Nolan's Batman. However, the inclusion of Vesper (Green) is the most rewarding aspect within the woman department. Craig and Green's first sequence shared together obviously displays natural chemistry. On initial appearance, their relationship seems typical 007 formula: Vesper initial fights the urge of Bond's charms, but eventually gives into his irresistible nature. Ok, to be truly fair, their relations do play-out similar to the generic formula, but Bond - for the only second time since "On her majesty secret service"- actually shares genuine love for Vesper rather than being characterized as another sexual instrument. She stripes his pretentious, ignorant, and egotistical armor to provide an actual glimpse into Bond's emotional core; for the first time we learn why Bond is the way he is, why he functions and why he simply does not trust women.
Being an idiosyncratic character, there was obviously a up-roar from loyal Bond fans from the casting of Daniel Craig as the next bond - mainly due to his unorthodox appearance (Blond hair anyone?). However, Craig's performance defines expectations and he is most certainly the best Bond since Sean Connery. The reason for this is that Craig's interpretation of Bond is realistically grounded. Furthermore, Craig creates a great balance between the icons essential characteristics: Physical brutality and irresistible charm. Where others failed - Roger Moore conveyed the charm but lacked execution of the physical aspect, very similar to Pierce Bronson's efforts - Craig is brilliant at emerging these two components, especially his physical presence. Despite consisting of many death-defying stunts, Craig contains realism in his movements to point that the action ultimately feels real - just watch the opening 'Parkour' sequence.
Every Film-Buff has that certain cinematic catalyst - whether it be a series or an individual effort - that began their love for film. To be honest, my was James Bond. I remember my first viewing of "Dr. No" and simply being mesmerized from the coolest action-hero I have ever seen. However, it is quite annoying when you watch one of your favorite characters get dragged through the dirt. Their have been many great entries into the Bond canon, but the negative entries most definitely outweigh the positives. Thankfully, "Casino Royale" is a mature image of Bond that ultimately restores faith within the iconic character.