My Love/Hate Relationship With "Casino Royale" - by Alec '006'
I have had
a very stormy relationship with "Casino Royale". I won't say that the
movie should've been exactly like the book. That argument won't work
for me. It started when Pierce was kicked to the curb by the producers
in the very worst of ways. Pierce for me was partly a combination
of Connery's toughness, Roger Moore's panache, charm, looks, and
incredible humor, with the rest Pierce by himself with his talent and
dedication. A package that had one last great Bond movie left, and it
should have been a darker, edgier film where he would've been very,
very good with the proper send off he deserved.
I don't think any Bond actor can look back and honestly say he left the
franchise with his absolute best work, and not want to do another one.
Sean left on his terms. George got some bad advice and looks back and
knows he should've done more Bond and could've just kept going from
quite good to quite great. That's my opinion...not George's ego (an
overblown media lie, I'd like to think!). Roger Moore stepped in and
saved the franchise with "Live and Let Die". He teased us all the way
up to "A View To A Kill" before finally departing. With a smile and a
"Job well done!" from "M" and the producers, Sir Rog gently went into
that goodnight. Timothy got tired of waiting and wanted to move on. For
me he was damn good and who can blame him? Pierce got a very hurtful
phone call. Michael and Barbara had just revoked Pierce's "Licence To
Thrill". He couldn't do much more but just try and collect himself and
tell his lovely wife and his closest friends what had just happened and
what he'd be doing in the future. No fifth gunbarrel for the 'Billion
Dollar Bond'. I believe Cubby Broccoli never would have allowed
Later, it's officially announced, that Brosnan has been replaced with
some guy named Daniel Craig. "Why him? Who is he? He doesn't look like
my idea of 007! He is so definately NOT right for Bond just getting his
"Commander Bond...British naval Intelligence!" I said out loud. I
immediately went into my mind and re-cast the role in my head with a
young Timothy Dalton, fresh off his great performance as "King Phillip
of France" in "The Lion In Winter", with O'Toole, Hepburn, and Sir
Anthony Hopkins. The script....hmmm. I wanted someone to write an
opening pre-credits intro that would "rock your world", showing the
death of Bond's parents in a climbing accident. "Stop dreaming!" I said
to myself as I came out of my trance with the news about a sixth 007
actor in my head. You aren't dreaming. Babs and Michael have other
plans. I then got gently into my car, took a quick, light breath,
looked out on to the street...and drove. I went to my nearest video
rental place and brought home and watched " Layer Cake".
I liked the movie. I thought Daniel Craig's performance was very good.
I thought to myself "He can act". That doesn't however, make him right
for James Bond. How is he going to pull off my expectations of my
favorite British Secret Service agent? At least I had some optimism.
Thank God I rented "Layer Cake" and not "Tomb Raider."
I was quite ill in Novermber of 2006 and didn't rush to see the 21st
Bond film. I'm usually there within three days of a 007 film opening.
My Dad and I were both pretty down one day in December and we needed a
"pick me up". I suggested an afternoon showing of "Casino Royale" at a
beautiful, huge multiplex cinema near us. We went, sat down, and the
lights dimmed. As the Columbia Pictures logo faded, my heart started to
beat. It damn near came to a dead stop when the film opened on a dark
quiet street in Prague.
Am I in the wrong theatre? I thought. Where's the music? The gunbarrel?
What the hell is going on? I opened my mind and reminded myself that
the producers were rebooting - but leaving the most iconic opening out
of my favorite movie series was unsettling, and upsetting. It was like
going to see a "Star Wars" movie and it starting without the famous
20th Century Fox Fanfare, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far
away....", John Williams brilliant theme blaring, and the opening
Casino Royale broke away from what I came to expect in a Bond movie,
almost too radically. Judi Dench, who I think is a wonderful actress
and in my opinion, almost as good in the role of "M" as the late
Bernard Lee, was not a welcome fixture in this James Bond experience
for me. For me, she was Pierce Brosnan's "M", lecturing him and calling
him a "sexist, mysogynist dinosaur...a relic of the cold war." Now
she's still lecturing, but at a newly commisioned 007 on being "a blunt
instrument", and the finer points of "taking ego out of the equation".
As much as I like the Dame as "M" to have her be Bond's superior on his
first mission ruins the continuity of the series. Director Martin
Campell even admitted as much. When you were watching all the 007
actors you quietly knew about all his past missions from Dr No,
S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and Goldfinger, to Yorgi Koskov to Alec Trevelyan and
Gustav Graves. You also knew about all of the women in Bond's life from
Sylvia Trench to Honey Ryder to Paris Carver. You also knew 007 was
married once, and Tracy was be a woman Bond never quite got over. With
this new imagining of Bond all those moments are lost, like tears in
Those are the biggest sticking points I've had with "Casino Royale".
The thing is all of my gripes are with the producers and the new Bond
concept, not shouldered by Daniel Craig. As far as Daniel Craig is
concerned, he doesn't really "look" the part - neither by the way Ian
Fleming describes him in the novels, nor by what we would expect
looking at the five actors who preceded him. That still to this day, is
a bit of a sticking point. Having said that, I believe Daniel Craig is
good as James Bond.
Pierce Brosnan said once that "you really felt the animal with Sean".
We all know what Pierce is talking about, I think. Connery's integrity,
sense of humor, toughness, ruthlessness, and tenderness all at the
right moments still make him everyone's favorite. Even Sean's catlike
way of walking, his physical presence, all make him "animalistic".
George Lazenby had physical ability with a pinch of Prince Phillip.
Roger Moore was suave, clever, humorful and dashing. Timothy Dalton was
quiet, reserved, conflicted, cold-blooded, ruthless, and loyal as hell.
For Pierce Brosnan, see Connery and Moore. Daniel Craig's legacy is
that he's more like Timothy Dalton before him. Craig maybe doesn't have
Fleming's Bond down in physical looks, but he has some of the
attributes. Craig's Bond is vulnerable. He's a killer. He doesn't
really enjoy what he does. He's conflicted. Killing those people
doesn't bother him, or so he says, otherwise "he wouldn't be very good
at his job if it did." He falls in love...then hates himself for
it. Daniel Craig is Timothy Dalton 20 years after the fact,
except not quite as strong an actor as Dalton, and lacking Timothy's
dark, mysterious good looks that are closest of any Bond actor to what
Ian Fleming described on the pages of the novels.
Craig's Bond is more physical. He takes you along for the ride on his
missions and God only knows what might happen. After struggling to even
warm up to him as Bond I'm finding Daniel Craig a bit more interesting.
The villians he must face, whether it be MI6's bent Dryden, a bomb
maker, the world's terrorists, Dymitrius, Le Chiffre, or "QUANTUM"
they're all quite down to earth and frightening. They're scary because
they're more believable. Their motives could be those of someone
anytime, anywhere. I do miss villians like Dr. No, Goldfinger, Mr. Big,
Drax, Stromberg, Max Zorin, and Gustav Graves. They were over the top
and sometimes, like Bond, for them even the world wasn't enough. A
villian like Le Chiffre falls into the Yorgi Koskov, Brad Whittaker,
Franz Sanchez, Alec Trevelyan type category. Their motivations and
means are more modest and down to earth. It makes them more plausible
and contemporary and possibly more likeable.
Bond doesn't seem to enjoy the finer things in life as much as he
usually did. He doesn't insist on Beluga caviar, he now checks into a
hotel as a "spur of the moment thing", the desk clerks don't already
know his name, he dresses in golf shirts and khakis, and when it comes
to how he likes his vodka martinis, he really "doesn't give a damn".
Dammit James, you really are moving with the times, aren't you? Craig's
Bond is not above sleeping with a married lady to get him closer to his
objective and at the same time shows compassion for women he really
cares about to the point of sitting fully dressed next to them in a
running shower to console them.
David Arnold's musical score for "Casino Royale" is his best ever, and
now one of my favorites of the series. Arnold doesn't even use Monty
Norman's Bond theme till the last track. John Barry would be proud.
Chris Cornell's song "You Know My Name" blares in my flat and bothers
my neighbours whenever I need to stop being so sensitive and get some
attitude. I also bought the Original Sountrack on C.D. and I love them
It didn't happen right away with my favorite British Secret Agent. I
was upset, I was jaded, and I was turned off. I'm experiencing
- Alec '006'