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"Casio Royale"

Well. I don’t want to write another downer review, but I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed with Casino Royale. Actually I was a lot disappointed. The opening sequence (before the titles) is normally one of the highs of the film, but this was a bit of a damp squid. I plan to write a fuller blog on why I think James Bond has gone all wrong, but suffice to say a flashback sequence of him making his first two kills in order to gain ’00’ status didn’t interest me. In fact, I can’t even remember exactly how the opening sequence went, and I only saw it a couple of days ago.

The titles and music also left me cold – a singularly unmemorable theme tune (by the time we’d left the cinema I’d forgotten it), and bizarre sort of playing card based montage of people being knocked off.

The film picked up pace a little with Bond chasing down an African bomber (who seemed to be a re-incarnation of Sonic the Hedgehog, as he could run up vertical steel girders, jump down liftshafts, dive through ventilation shafts 10ft off the ground, and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Ok, I made that last bit up, but it really was like a comic book chase. They definitely should have got Jackie Chan to advise on how to do stunts like that properly.)
Then James Bond decided to blow up or kill half the Nigerian Embassy (which we could possible write off as a silly rookie error – but it’s James Bond we’re talking about!). In fact the film is riddled with him making utterly stupid mistakes (being spotted tailing someone, giving himself away by clearly showing an earpiece, etc.) that it wass just annoying. Ok, so he’s new as a ’00’, but I always thought the ’00’s were the Secret Service equivalent of Top Gun – you have to be the best of the best just to get in.

Anyway, the plot meandered around with an ever mounting body count, and mild confusion about who was who, and who was really behind it all. Each time someone was set up as the “big baddy”, someone else soon replaced them as the even bigger baddy, normally without ever have been introduced before. Or perhaps they had? All too often it seemed to be a deus ex-machina: Bond’s in a pickle, let’s introduce a random new factor to save him.

In the end all the characters were pretty weak, I thought. There was no meglomaniac invincibility, no super baddy – just ‘normal’ gangsters and terrorists. And, if we’re honest, for a lot of the film JB fell into both categories. Oh yes, and all the characters took themselves far too seriously.

The script was ok – a couple of good one liners here and there. My biggest complaint is that there was nothing silly. Everything that happened (apart from Sonic) was basically believable, or at least required minimal suspension of disbelief. Where was the bungee jump from a dam? Or a car turning into an aeroplane? Or a speed-boat chase across water and land? Where was a car chase in a 2CV? Come to that, where was any sort of significant motorised chase – nowhere (although there was an impressive car crash). That said, JB didn’t manage to sink a building in Venice, which was quite cool.

Actually, the whole film was pretty brutal, and again this wasn’t something I either enjoyed or thought was necessary. I know it’s meant to be “the birth of Bond” and all that, but still..

And the penultimate sequence was awful, and didn’t hang together at all. I won’t say too much, so I don’t spoil the surprise, but it really was a “right, so we’re meant to believe that so-and-so is really doing this when we thought they were …”.
And it was such a “small” film. JB was trying to stop a banker who rolled money for terorrists. Big wow.

Despite all of this, I didn’t hate it – as a film it was reasonable. But I have high expectations of Bond films. I don’t go to a Bond film to see a counter-terrorism documentary, or to see the British government employing hit-man to go and assassinate people they dont’ like. I go to see JB battling against the odds to save the world, doing silly impossible things, charming the ladies and using gadgets. Casio Royale had none of these elementsm in my opinion, and is not worthy of the description “Bond film”.

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