Old Spy, New World, Tight Arse.
It will always be a problem introducing the world to a new Bond. When Sean Connery was hired, it was a disaster because it wasn’t David Niven.
– Barbara Broccoli.
International espionage will never be the same. It is now certifiably MAN-HOT.
“Re-imagining” has become a dirty word, but writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis, and director Martin Campbell have re-invented re-imagining. Originally made into a film in 1967 (from the Ian Fleming book) as a spy spoof starring David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen, CASINO ROYALE has now been re-wrought to portray The Rise of Bond. Simultaneously introducing Craig as the New Bond, this storyline supposedly predates Sean Connery’s DR. NO (1962), as we meet Bond in a well-structured opening sequence, prior to being assigned his license to kill, which requires two kills for “double-o” status. (Well, it’s a double “zero” really, isn’t it? And how do you, in fact, make two kills “legally” if you NEED two kills to GET a “License to Kill”? Seems even superspies suffer the same job-experience conundrums.)
Two – ahem – “illegal but legitimate” kills later, the famed 007 status resting squarely on his v-shaped torso, when Craig sits at a plasma laptop computer, we realize there is something shaken not stirred with this concept of “The First Bond.”
In what should be termed the STAR WARS Syndrome, technology in this film far surpasses anything that Q could conjure up in the supposedly “succeeding” storylines. If the inclusion of cell phones and Photoshop are not enough to skew your suspension, a character refers to 9-11! Well, it’s obviously not 1961 – even a “futuristic” 1961.
Banking on our love of Bond-age, the producers do not deviate from this anomalous concept, and we eventually settle into “it’s just a movie” mode and enjoy this grand experience on its merits.
Daniel Craig may now be the “first Bond,” but he is burdened with the legacy and baggage of all who came before him (or, uh – “after” him). To traditionalists, this terse maverick with the stylish running style, muffin-fresh pecs and “perfectly-formed arse” may not be the best Bond, but he is arguably near the top.
The opening chase and capture sequence sets the bar high, as Bond and his quarry (real-life British “free runner” Sebastien Foucan) defy the laws of physics and do the Cirque du Soleil over cranes and girders like gibbons. When Bond purposefully strides into the runner’s HQ and pummels everyone creatively, then blows up the runner himself – we acquiesce this ain’t Pierce Brosnan.
There is nothing fey about this Bond. Disdainful, cruelly vicious, his savage blue eyes expressionless as he kills without quips – this ain’t Roger Moore either.
While M (Judi Dench) questions Bond’s worth as a double-o agent, Bond uncovers a chilling villain who weeps blood, Le Chiffre (Danish film star Mads Mikkelsen), and the film gets all European, as Bond challenges Le Chiffre to a card sharking at the Casino Royale in Montenegro.
Then comes the ball torture. (You wincing gentlemen readers read that right.) All supposedly tough movies lose my business when they tie a guy to a chair readying him for torture – with his undies on. Modesty? Geneva Convention? Afraid they might go gay? But this scene upped Casino Royale’s ante when Bond is tied to a chair with the bottom cut out of it – naked. And we know that something heavy duty is coming that will involve me throwing up in my pudding. The sadist Le Chiffre… and a heavy swinging rope knotted at one end… That’s a big Double Oh! – shortened to “D’oh!” Joins the pantheon of torture scenes (the teeth-wrenching in MARATHON MAN, the fingernail-pulling in SYRIANA) which make you feel like Malcolm McDowell with his eyelids peeled open in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Bond quips through sac-crushing breaths, “the whole world will know that you died scratching my balls!” And we finally realize that it ain’t Sean Connery either…
The third act is nauseating for a different reason: Bond finds True Love. Falling for fellow agent, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in a big bad way, Bond becomes insufferable: “Whatever armor I have left has been stripped away – I’m yours.” Vomit.
Yet when Vesper sweetly seduces him with “You can have me any way you want,” our first thought is Le Chiffre’s summation of Bond’s testicular ordeal, “if you do not yield soon enough – there will be little left to identify you as a man.” What kind of Wolverine recuperative abilities does this guy possess? Is she going to pull down his pants and find a mangled mess? Or will his perfectly-formed arse distract her enough not to notice the frontal?
CASINO ROYALE contains one of the hottest sex scenes of any Bond movie – without anyone getting naked: earlier in the film, after Vesper is traumatized by seeing Bond dispatch two killers, he sits with her in a running shower, fully clothed, consoling, as she lets her professional guard down for the first time, instinctively snuggling into his shoulder. Down, boy!
The one redeeming factor in Bond giving his heart away is that we realize one sure thing: the woman must die. To give Bond the motivation to become the hard bastard he becomes in his upcoming adventures.
Mark Walters of bigfanboy.com toys with the concept “of James Bond being more like a code name, given to various skilled agents over the years, which would’ve explained the different men playing the role…” It’s not a bad idea, which was, ironically, courted in the first CASINO ROYALE.
It would also explain, after all these years of infiltrating crime syndicates, the concept of the secret agent who simply tells everyone his “real” name – which Craig invokes like a stinger in the very last frames – Bond, James Bond.
Are those Villains paying any attention at all? Or have they always been distracted by something else?
It all turns on that perfectly-formed arse.