Finally got a chance to see Casino Royale, the "new" James Bond picture a few days ago and I must say that it was great! This is now my favorite Bond film.
Yes, I know that I am a little late and that this movie has been out 2 ½ years. So before I go any further please let me explain my relationship with modern pop culture. I have none, or I should say nearly none. I neither have the time nor inclination so I rarely watch TV or go to the movies anymore. It has been over four years since I've set foot in a movie theater and I have none of the "premium" cable movie channels. I don't rent DVD's or buy them either unless they are on sale or until they end up in the markdown bin at the local chain store. So usually a movie has to be out a long while before I finally view it. As you can see that normally puts me at least a year or two behind the curve. But I don't mind because I couldn't care less about seeing the newest "in" movie and this attitude saves me a lot of time, money and aggravation in my life.
But lets get back to this movie, as I said Casino Royale is now my favorite Bond film and with this one performance Daniel Craig has become my favorite Bond. I am a fan of the films and have seen them all, and to a degree, liked them all. Even the Bond franchise at its worst was still tolerable. I have liked all the incarnations of James Bond; even my least favorite (Roger Moore) produced some passable action/adventure films during his tenure. At times though the Bond series, best illustrated with Moore's later films, more closely resembled pure fantasy than anything related to real world espionage. Bond has always had a fantasy element about him, no doubt that is some of his appeal. I have liked the fantasy elements myself, to a point, but with the invisible cars, chase scenes that defied the laws of physics (and common sense) and super villains smart enough to take over the world but not smart enough to just put a bullet in Bond's head the first chance they got you will have to admit that this series has become a bit of a joke over the years. Some films more than others.
This new Bond film leaves all that behind and strips the character of 007 down to the bare essentials. This film is a "reboot" for the series and a fresh start for the character that we all know and love. Is this now a true to life spy film? No, but probably as close as any Bond movie will ever get. Reading other's reviews I note that many have compared this new Bond film to the hit spy movie The Bourne Identity and that's a fair comparison. That film obviously had an influence on this new James Bond. I am sure many fans consider that not to be a change for the better. I am not one of them.
What we get in this new film is Bond devoid of the silly gadgets, the absurd villains and the cutesy one-liners, and he's so much better without them! Ian Fleming's most famous creation has now reached back to the past and James Bond is more like I always envisioned him from the books. At least Craig's Bond is closer than any that came before him. James Bond as a man not a caricature.
Casino Royale is the telling of how Bond became Bond. Not Bond as adolescent movie fantasy, but as brutal reality. Not the Bond who cleanly kills and then punctuates it with a flippant remark, but as a man that has to get his hands dirtied because murder is ugly business. Not Bond as perfect super spy but flawed man. I am sure there are many that lament the loss of the old movie fantasy Bond and hate his imperfect replacement, but the fact is that Bond had outlived his times. Casino Royale is classic Bond updated for this century.