11 February 2008

Guest: Bond, James Bond (2006)

2006 - Casino Royale - I imagine the Bond series flat-lining on a slab, Barbara Brocolli holding two smoking defibrillators above its chest, screaming “Don’t you dare die on me!” Richard Maibaum pulling her back and pleading “It’s too late. There’s nothing we can do.” Just before the doctor calls the time of death, Martin Campbell walks in, apparently lost. He is about to ask for directions when sees the Bond series bein all dead. He nonchalantly walks over, applies one strike to the chest, gets the heart beating again, and struts out of there like he owns the place.

So maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that. The Bond series wasn’t exactly flat-lining, per se, but I would definitely call it brain dead. So, if nothing else, Campbell has returned to show us that 1) his genitals must be huge, and 2) if anybody does it better than Bond, it’s him.

Get over the blonde Bond thing quick (and remind yourself that Roger Moore was also blonde) and get ready for the movie to break about twenty-seven conventions that have been set in stone for the past 40+ years. First, there’s the pre-credits sequence, in black and & white, only teasing you with shades of 007’s suave attitude while he kicks you in the chest with his boot because all he wants to do is kill you hard. After some brief glimpses of the sinister-as-hell asthmatic-villain-with-a-bleeding-eye and what will later be the setup for the plot (not the plot itself, mind), the movie decides to top itself a foot chase that would normally be spread across the entire film but gets crammed into one quick-paced dash across four locations, subsequently followed by an investigation sequence which culminates in a fight at an airport. And you might be thinking ‘Wow, that was a good movie,’ but then I’d have to inform you that this occurs within the first thirty minutes and shit hasn’t even begun to get real.

Speaking of which, at some point, the movie’s like ‘You love poker? Cuz it’s time for some fuckin poker’ and doesn’t stop for most of the film. If you’re worried this won’t be suspenseful, you’re wrong, dead fucking wrong. It shoved those irritating explosions out of the way for the spine of the film: espionage w/ cards, and it gets your blood pumping at 200 mph.

Watching this go down is an utter delight. Here, Bond is called a blunt instrument yet again, but only now is it apparent to the naked eye. Daniel Craig is the perfect casting choice for a secret agent fresh into his 00 status, balancing a youthful brashness with a weathered demeanor. Nothing refined at this point, he is just extremely pissed and will off you for looking at him wrong. But by no means is he not cool. Slightly psychopathic, yes, and he loses sometimes. WHO IS THIS NEW CHARACTER YOU’RE PRESENTING TO ME, MOVIE?!

Casino Royale is the best entry. I’ll stand by that statement and defend it to the death. Others come close, but this is it, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And it’s worth it. Campbell, you have saved the series twice, and you made an entry that will likely be the closest the series will get to making me cry. I love you, you’re great, come back again.

“Will you yield… in time?” (7.5/10)
d. Martin Campbell

[this is kinda neat]