Iâ€™ve seen every single one of the Bond movies, and in the last ten years or so Iâ€™ve seen the new ones all in the theater. Iâ€™ve also read a fair number of Flemingâ€™s novels, including Casino Royale. In other wordsâ€¦ I like the formula. I also think itâ€™s a important franchise that, when the formula is done well, reflects the state of the culture that produced it.
I saw the movie today with H and was quite pleased. The core of the brief, brutal book is there, right down to the torture scene. The bookâ€™s Russians are now generic terrorists that like to blow up planes, the game is hold â€˜em instead of baccarat (which is fortunate as I can actually follow poker), and Bondâ€™s Aston Martin is the new model, but the â€œthis is why Bond is the way he isâ€ elements are intact.
Craig doesnâ€™t stick out as an interloper in Conneryâ€™s tux; his clothing is actually a recurring motif, with him going through about four dress shirts during the poker game alone, and spending a fair amount of time without a shirt at all. He is certainly the most physical actor to play Bond – regardless of stuntmen or not, I didnâ€™t have the usual â€œOh, yeah, like Pierce Brosnan/Roger Moore did THAT jump.â€
One disappointment was that the torture scene was rewritten to make Bond look a lot tougher than Flemingâ€™s Bond, who barely survived, almost permanently lost certainâ€¦ assets, and came away with a much stronger sense of his own mortality. I donâ€™t have a copy of the book anymore but I recall it was painful to even read, especially as I had an idea of Bond as basically invulnerable. Craigâ€™s Bond didnâ€™t have his ego checked nearly as much. I figure the writers and producers wanted to show Bond vulnerable, but not too vulnerable. Flemingâ€™s Bond ends the book more or less broken, despite his â€˜the bitch is deadâ€™ bravado. The Craigian Bond ends the film in what appears to be, at least, full control, emotionally dried solid at the rate of super glue.
Still, it was extremely good overall, I think, with some nitpicking. Bond would have had a greater chance of being struck by lightning than drawing an inside straight flush on the turn with a pair on the board and then having three other players go all in for $104 millionâ€¦ good god. I would have preferred the bad guy catch him earlier with something more basic, say a flush over a straight, and then have Bond return and beat his full house with a four-of-a-kind. That actually happens occasionally. But, then again, heâ€™s Bond, and he did check at least twice.
H was not happy that I casually mentioned ten minutes before the movie started that there might be a scene with a chair with no bottom and a cane. I owe her 8 Disney movies.