27 December 2006

A Royale with Cheese

The new James Bond movie, Casino Royale, is correctly billed as a return to a simpler, less self-parodic telling of the Bond legend. Like Batman Begins, it picks up our hero early in his storied career. It's a bit more down-to-earth in its plotting, and there are few fantastic gadgets and machines.

However, at least one traditional rule still applies: All bombs that have been timed to explode must have a highly visible blinking light or countdown clock to make it easy for our hero to find them. The possibility of, say, masking those displays with duct tape still hasn't occurred to our villains.

Daniel Craig does a fine acting job as a Bond carrying some class resentment along with his weaponry. However, he still looks more like Vladimir Putin than a quintessential Englishman. As he comes out of the surf for the first time, I think we're supposed to be thinking, "What bulging muscles!" But I found myself murmuring, "What protruding ears!"

Back during the Bond franchise's difficult transition from Roger Moore through Timothy Dalton to Pierce Brosnan, I had the idea that the next film's villain should be played by Moore himself. He was, after all, used to playing a larger-than-life caricature, as the villains then were. Part of his plot could be pretending to be James Bond, which he was easily able to do. Now I can recycle that idea so that when Craig retires from the series the next film's screenplay could reveal that James Bond has been a Russian spy all along.


Anonymous said...

At least the new Bond has a sense of humor about those protruding ears. Loved the scene where he's talking to MI6 in his car after getting poisoned, waiting for instructions, and he says "I'm all ears". My understanding is that bit was added as a wink at all those who thought his ears, among other things, were all wrong for James Bond. Gotta love a guy who can make fun of himself like that. And he gets the last laugh in the end. $454,000,000 worldwide so far and still counting.

J. L. Bell said...

Yes, the Bond series certainly hasn't lost its sense of humor; the jokes are just a bit different. I noticed the script had a lot of in-jokes about the clichés—excuse me, oft-repeated motifs—of the classic Bond movies that this one skipped. Just enough to make the most avid fans of those films know they hadn't been forgotten. All in all, a fine reinvigoration of the franchise.