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He Said, She Said Review Site
Casino Royale

Casino Royale

What She said:

She

The He and I decided to this week to take a trip back in time and investigate the origins of the new James Bond series.  We did things a bit out of order by watching Skyfall before the previous two entries in the series.  So, to right our wrongs we went back to where it all started for Daniel Craig as Bond, Casino Royale. 

Describing the storyline of this movie is a bit of a challenge because the film is long, complex, and there are a lot of characters involved.  Let me water it down to something digestable.  Bind has been recently promoted to 00 status, which means he's now the coolest kind of super spy.  The movie follows him as he's on the trail of an investor whose practices are feeding international terrorists.  It's way more complicated than that, but if I took you through all the details it'd take me three hours.  So Bond travels around trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of who this investor is and put a stop to him once and for all.  He picks up a pretty female sidekick along the way.  The movie takes Bond to Africa, Miami, and Montenegro, among other locations, and at one point he joins a high stakes poker tournament in an attempt to bring down the bad guy.

Casino Royale

That's about all you really need to know.  I cannot say I liked this film quite as much as Skyfall, but it wasn't bad.  Here's the thing, you really need to pay attention the entire time, and it's LONG.  I think it's around two and a half hours, but it really felt much longer than that.  In fact, the movie seems to unfold in acts, as we follow Bond to different locations.  The movie truly is a lot to wrap your mind around.  I admit that I actually went to Wikipedia a couple of times during the movie to clear some things up for me.  The film is very tightly written, almost too much so in that there is a good deal that is implied.

The good with Casino Royale is, of course, it's fabulous action sequences.  Where some action movies nowadays seem to get too unrealistic in their fighting and explosions, the new Bond movies handle things with style.  Very cleanly done and watchable.  I think the movie also had some strong acting and a lot of intrigue, which made it enjoyable.  The cinematography was solid, and really brings the viewer into the locations where the scenes take place.  It helps to give you the feeling that you're really there watching things go down.

Overall, I would have enjoyed the film more if it were a half hour shorter and a little less complex.  It's not that it got boring so much as overwhelming.  That said, it was still a solid flick, and I do have to recommend it if you have the time and attention span.

Thumbs up.

Casino Royale

 

What he said:

He

I really struggled with this review. It wasn’t a matter of whether I liked the movie or not, that would have made it easy. I struggled because I wasn’t sure how much I liked this movie. I enjoyed it, but there were things about it that bothered me and, at times, affected my ability to enjoy it.

We recently watched Skyfall (review here) for the first time, so we figured we’d go back and watch Daniel Craig’s first try at Bond. And speaking of his first crack at Bond, Casino Royale tells the story of how Bond became a 00 agent and his first few missions right after that. No more minor leagues for James Bond, he’s in the majors now. It’s also a reboot. Daniel Craig’s Bond is not connected to any previous movies, which I think is a smart move given that series started in the 60s. It’s simply impossible for the audience to believe this is the same character as the one who first appeared in Dr. No.  

Casino Royale

After becoming 007, Bond’s next couple of missions involve hunting down some bombers. The first has an excellent chase scene. This was a very fast-paced high energy way to kick off a new series. After handling the situation with a little less discretion than M (Dame Judi Dench) would have liked, she tells him to get lost for a little while. Bond has pretty much no life outside of work, so while on “vacation” he does some reconnaissance and discovers another bomber. The connection between these men? Some guy named LeChiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). LeChiffre is a money man who seems to have connections to several different terrorist organizations around the world.

Bond finds out LeChiffre is hosting a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. This is one of my problems with the movie. While the slower pace of the poker game actually makes for a nice chess match between Bond and LeChiffre – and also is a nice break from the action sequences – it is an extremely unnecessary plan. They know he is funding terrorists. They've already figured that out. Why does Bond have to beat him in a poker game in order for him and the rest of MI6 feel like they finally have him where they want him? Sure, everyone looks good in all their fancy clothes, and playing poker for millions of dollars is cool and all, but the belief that they had to beat him in poker to make a move to arrest him is extremely stupid (especially after some of Bond's less than discreet actions earlier).

One of the other things that bothered me about the movie was its length. I don’t mind movies that are over two hours, but this one dragged a bit at times.

Casino Royale

I also don’t really know how I feel about Craig’s Bond. He’s not a particularly likeable guy. Bond has always been a little brash, but he remained charming, and was not outright unlikeable. This Bond seems so utterly selfish at times that I have to wonder whether he even cares about stopping the bad guy and saving the world. It made sense to me in Skyfall that he was that way, because he almost died. The character had a brush with death and was cold and detached as a result. He drank too much, was totally fearless, and arguably had a death wish. That makes sense after a traumatic experience. But what’s his excuse in this movie? I don’t see one. He’s just an asshole, because that's who he is. He kicks ass and the guy looks like an absolute beast. No one playing Bond has been more physically intimidating than Craig. But I have trouble rooting for him. This was not a problem with other versions of the character.

That being said, the movie looks fantastic. There are some great costumes, locations, and cars. Never before has being a spy looked so cool. The movie also has some intense action sequences. There’s simply some great stuff here. Mads Mikkelson was also a great bad guy. He has a nasty face. I’m not saying he’s an ugly guy, just that he looks like someone you don’t want to mess with. I also liked Eva Green’s performance as Vesper Lynd. Her character is not familiar with this world of spies, gadgets, and brushes with death every five minutes. I felt she portrayed the fear and vulnerability of someone not used to this environment very well. Judy Dench is simply excellent as M. She’s got some big ones and doesn’t take and crap from Bond, even if he is her best agent. I enjoyed the movie, but a few things about it really bugged me.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on April 5, 2013.

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