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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Casino Royale

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Judy Thorburn

Casino Royale

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"CASINO ROYALE" GAMBLES ON DANIEL CRAIG AS THE NEW JAMES BOND

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

I can’t say I ever read any of Ian Fleming’s novels, but I did see every one of the movies that brought his British superspy character to life. As a preteen I became a big fan of the 007 franchise starting with the original and best movie Bond ever, Sean Connery, through all the other actors that proceeded him in the role. Not to be confused with the disastrous 1967 sendup of the same name which starred David Niven, this Casino Royale takes Fleming’s novel originally published in 1953 which introduced James Bond to the world and tweaks it just enough to bring it up to date.

As the 21st film in the James Bond series, Casino Royale asks us to forget every other previous movie and start anew since so much about this film cries out re-invention. Let’s begin with the obvious, Daniel Craig, although blonde and blued eyed, with buffed up pecks and chiseled body, is definitely not what you would call conventionally handsome since his big ears and wide nose define rugged at best. He wouldn’t have been my pick to take over the role from handsome, Pierce Brosnan. Yet, Craig was chosen to fill Bond’s shoes and what we get is something altogether new and completely different. Instead of a suave, debonair and very classy female magnet with a sly sense of humor who also happens to have a license to kill, Craig’s Bond is serious, intense, and a cold and calculating killer, with an ego that tends to get in the way. Yes, Craig is a fine actor, but through my eyes as a woman, I believe dashing, hot and sexy are major requirements for the legendary superspy, James Bond. Craig, who looks more like a boxer, doesn’t do it for me.

Craig isn’t my only complaint. The opening title sequence, which in the past always included silhouettes of sexy women, a memorable song track and the famous Bond theme (dada da dada, and so on) is gone, replaced by animated playing cards, silhouettes of men fighting and a forgettable song. No sexy femmes in the intro and a song I can’t remember. Tell me, if it isn’t broke, why fix it? Moving on, because this episode takes us back to the beginning and Bond’s promotion to 007 status after his first two kills, Miss Moneypenney is nowhere to be seen, Q doesn’t enter the picture and there are no fancy gadgets. So, we can assume the lovestruck secretary, the inventor and all his fancy high tech stuff will come later in future installments of what the filmmakers hope will be a reinvigorated franchise.

What this new installment does have is fast cars, a couple of beautiful women and visits to exotic locations such as Africa, Prague, Italy, the Bahamas and Florida.

There is also plenty of action and an incredible chase sequence towards the beginning with James in hot pursuit of a terrorist bomber that has him running through the streets of Madagascar, leaping and bouncing from tall beams on a construction sight, and racing through stairwells as if he was made of rubber. Of course, you need to suspend belief in order to buy these superhuman feats that doesn’t even leave Bond huffing or puffing and with just a few scratches.

Bond’s first mission as 007 doesn’t involve a lone villain with evil intentions of world domination. International terrorism is the threat for these times. The bad guy at the fore is LeChiffre (Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen) a cunning banker to a network of terrorists who uses their money to invest in the stock market, of which he has plans on shaking up a bit to his advantage. When things go awry and $100 million of his investor’s money is lost thanks to Bond’s interference, LeChiffre, hopes to save face and his life, by employing his talent as a mathematical genius to win a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale in Montenegro, where the winner takes all of the $150 million pot. Judi Dench, again reprising her role as head of MI6, sends James to work his wonders using his gambling skills to beat LeChiffre and stop him from using the winnings to fund terrorism. Accompanying Bond is treasury accountant, Vesper Lynd (French actress, Eva Green), a smart, beautiful and mysterious young woman he first encounters on a train. She appears to be someone with whom he has met his match as they engage in clever banter to size each other up. Vesper is sent to keep her eye on the government’s money, but winds up becoming the woman who breaks down Bond’s guarded barrier and has him falling in love. Together they come up against lethal attacks by the bad guys and his henchman and upon surviving are drawn closer together. In every Bond movie, there always has to be a torture sequence and this one involves the hero’s privates. No doubt, he escapes and after a short hospital stay is ready to engage in sexual relations as if several violent lashings on his man jewels didn’t do any harm. Call me picky, I need some believability here, people!

The international cast also includes Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis, Bond’s contact in Montenegro and American Jeffrey Wright wasted as the CIA agent and poker player who gives Bond needed funds to continue staying in the game.

Secrets and a few double crosses are par for the course. But the main goal here is to introduce a new James Bond to moviegoers and explore his one true love and events that shape his life forever.

At 144 minutes this must be the longest Bond movie ever. I will say director Martin Campbell (who also was at the helm of Goldeneye) keeps the pace going and the action taut. But that major ingredient, the sexy quality pertinent in all the Bond movies is lacking.

I didn’t leave the theatre feeling or thinking the same things I thought after seeing Batman Begins, which also goes back to a beginning, this one being the caped crusader’s origin. Christian Bale was perfectly suited to the role and personified the comic book character like no actor who played the role previously. I can’t say the same about Craig as James Bond. Connery still owns the role. He had it all in one very sexy, charismatic, package. Sorry, but for me 007 is not a character that Daniel Craig, “bonds” with.