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31 December 2006 @ 08:37 pm
Movie Review: Casino Royal (2006)  
I had no plans to see this movie any time soon. Prior to this the latest Bond movie I'd seen all the way through was 1985's A View to a Kill. I caught a bit of one of the Brosnen movies (or was it Dalton) on cable when I was visiting my parents but didn't really pay attention to it.

I like James Bond so it was a bit of a surprise to me that it had been so long. My father and I would go to the theater together to watch the movies and it was a nice way to spend time together but then they got satellite and stopped going out to the movies and without him I didn't bother. I would watch re-runs of the older films if they happened to be on but the new ones just didn't interest me. The series had become predictable and the only reason to watch was for Connery or Moore so with a new actor there just wasn't a draw. I always meant to watch them some day, but there was always something else more interesting available and before I knew it over 20 years had passed with me still thinking of Brosnen as “one of the new guys”.

A couple of years back I added all the movies to my Netflix list to catch up but since they were in the 400s at the time it will be another couple of years before they work their way up to the top.

If my friend Rory hadn't given me a copy of the Chinese bootleg that's about when I would have gotten to it. Since he did, I went ahead and watched and...Wow! All the over the top elements that made Bond so easy to parody in films like Austen Powers were gone. We are back to a good basic action adventure espionage thriller like in the days of Sean Connery. The new guy sort of looks like a young Connery too.

It's still got a lot of the old standby elements like the beautiful women, people who die in interesting ways, a chase or two, gadgets, and an eccentric bad guy, but there are no shark tanks, no lasers, and the bad guy seems to have read at least part of the list of don't s for Evil Overlords. He doesn't leave Bond tied up unattended in a death trap, he doesn't spend ten minutes explaining his plan for taking over the world and why pushing that red button over there would be a Very Bad Idea (tm). He's just a psycho S.O.B. who's in it for the money.

The fight sequences are well choreographed with a nice mix of gritty realism in some with stuff that stopped just short of Hong Kong wire work in other sequences.

Judy Dench absolutely RULES as M. She has a fairly large role in this and I wanted it to be larger. I love her attitude towards Bond. She manages to show that she finds his attitude toward women distasteful and his rule breaking gets on her last nerve but she can't help having a bit of grudging affection for her resident bad boy. I want to see the other Bond movies she has been in now just for her.

There are some visual references to older Bond movies as well as some lines of dialog that are meant as in jokes. They are done subtly enough that if you haven't seen the movie a bit is referring to you probably won't even notice it's there. This is a restart of the series with a young Bond who hasn't been on all those adventures yet. I'm going to be sure to see the next one before another 22 years go by.