Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Take - Ian Fleming's Casino Royale - starring Daniel Craig as .007

A Mini Movie Review
By: A. L. “Toni” Anderson

I was a huge “.007” fan back in the early days. Thanks to Casino Royale, I am a fan all over again. This 2006 film stars Daniel Craig (Munich - 2005) as Bond… James Bond (sometimes affectionately referred to as “James Blond”). It is directed by Martin Campbell, director of earlier Bond film GoldenEye (1995). The Ian Fleming novel is adapted for the screen by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (The World is Not Enough - 1999 and Die Another Day - 2002), along with Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby - 2004).

Sean Connery and Roger Moore are the familiar faces of Bond; Daniel Craig must be given his props as the new face of Bond. The controversy over the selection of a light-haired actor in the title role can be put to rest. Craig possesses exactly the cold-blooded stare, rugged features, and somewhat dark demeanor required for the 21st century version of the role. We won’t even mention that he has a body to die for — literally.

The action sequences in this latest Bond film are right on the money. One secretly roots for Bond even as he outwits and takes out an entire security force at the Nambutu Embassy in Uganda, though outgunned and outmanned. Fabulously expensive and perilously swift sports cars are a huge attraction, as always. The trademark beautiful women are back, along with the “bad boy” behavior that is part and parcel of the early Bond films. The new theme song for this film, “You Know My Name,” is performed by Chris Cornell, and the sound is right on time! Naturally, the main Bond theme is performed with excellence.

Alongside the new Bond and a cast of other new characters is the unforgettable “M,” played by Judi Dench (Die Another Day - 2002 and at least three earlier .007 films). Eva Green (Kingdom of Heaven -2005) is Vesper Lynd, the MI6 accountant who accompanies Bond at Casino Royale in the exquisite nation of Montenegro on the edge of the Adriatic Sea. Danish actor Mads Mikkelson is Le Chiffre, the primary evil genius, who is flanked by a host of evil drones played by Isaach de Bankolé of the Ivory Coast as Obanno, Ivana Milicevic (Love Monkey) as Valenka, Simon Abkarian as Dimitrios, Caterina Murino as Solange, and Jesper Christensen as Mr. White. Jeffrey Wright (Lackawanna Blues - 2005) plays Felix Leiter, initially a very silent poker player who turns out to be a very valuable ally.

For much of the 1990s, I gave up on the Bond franchise. One actor after another tried on the .007 suit, with marginal success and none of the excitement of the films of the 1960s and 1970s. After viewing Casino Royale, I am having trouble getting the .007 music out of my head. For the year 2006, I have to agree — Bond is back! [RT-2:24]

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

[© 11/17/2006]


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