Saturday, November 18, 2006

Casino Royale

Review by Michael Jaffe

I hate Martin Campbell. Once, he was a competent director with such movies as GOLDENEYE and MASK OF ZORRO, both entertaining films that were competently made. Then he made VERTICAL LIMIT, BEYOND BORDERS and, of course, THE LEGEND OF ZORRO. VERTICAL LIMIT was barely decent, as was BEYOND BORDERS, but THE LEGEND OF ZORRO was easily one of the most terrible movies I have ever seen. His newest film, CASINO ROYALE is somewhere in between. The first two acts are nearly pitch perfect. There is action and women and cars and exotic locales and everything you could ever want from a Bond movie. Without question, it is the best first two acts to any Bond movie in over 30 years. The problem arises with the third act. The movie 2 hours and 20 minutes, at least 20 minutes longer than it should’ve been. The third act though is completely unnecessary, and I won’t say why, but it seems as if someone else wrote that final act. It’s sappy and slow and the action sequences aren’t as well planned at all. There were three writers, one of whom is Oscar winner Paul Haggis. The third act simply doesn’t fit as Bond softens up and looses his new cool that is build up perfectly in the first two acts.
On the acting front, Daniel Craig is awesome as Bond, playing his as ice cold and manipulative as he should be. Craig may be blue eyed and blonde but he IS Bond as Ian Fleming would’ve wanted him. He isn’t perfect, he quite often messes up his assignments and his fighting is somewhat unrefined, but it makes him human and that why we love him. Bond also is depicted as a brilliant Texas hold-‘em player which leads Bond to Montenegro to engage in a high stakes, $150 million, hold-‘em game to beat an underworld banker named Le Chiffre. If Le Chiffre loses, he will be bankrupt and will be forced to become a rat for the government or be killed by the international bad guys whose money he has lost. Eva Green tags along as Vesper Lynd, not your usual Bond girl. While beautiful, she is also as brilliant and cool as Bond himself is. The characters battle wits from the first time they meet, eventually falling in love which leads to the sappy third act.
The movie is so disappointing. The first two acts are so good, so violent, so freaking awesome that when the third act rolls around it is like Episode I all over again. This build up and you feel so good about the movie and the incredible chase scene through a construction site makes the sloppy finale hurt so much more. In the end, if you want to know whether or not you should see this movie, the answer is a resounding yes, but be warned. 8/10

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