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From The Digital Sweatshop
The Music, Art and Travels of Alan D. Oldham a.k.a. DJ T-1000.

The Icon Returns.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

On now: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," Propellerheads

Saw "Casino Royale" yesterday, the new James Bond flick. From the get, let me say that I liked Daniel Craig as the new Bond. I never had the problem with him that the Internet nerds did. I've seen him most recently in "Layer Cake" and "Munich" and thought he was the shit in both. I always take a wait-and-see attitude in cases like this.

Also let me say that I don't appreciate the quickness with which the critics and media have discarded Pierce Brosnan. I loved his Bond and thought "The World is Not Enough" was his best in the series. I also dug "Die Another Day," at least the first half. Let's have a round of applause for his great contribution to the legacy.

On to "Casino." It was a really stripped-down, back-to-basics Bond. They pretty much made this Bond's origin story, how he became a "00" agent, licensed to kill. They even show how he gets his 1964 Aston Martin, in a nod to Connery. Craig is a stockier, more brutal Bond than his predecessors, very quick to kill a man with his bare hands or with whatever's laying around. I think the emphasis on physical fighting was a nod to the "Bourne" movies, where Matt Damon uses fighting skills rather than guns or gadgets to kill his enemies.

Also, I thought that Bond being physically hurt and bloodied in fighting/torture sequences was an answer to "24," as Jack Bauer is often intensely tortured/beat up over the five seasons of that show. You very rarely see Bond taking punishment.

(While I'm on the subject, there is a small bit in this film that's very similar to the ending of "MI:3," see if you can pick it out and let me know.)

I loved how Bond kept coming up with crisp, white shirts after many of his battles, though. I can't even go to the airport without looking all beat-up and desheveled. This fact alone is what makes Bond Her Majesty's greatest hero.

The intricate, fast-paced script takes us to many different locales, such as the Bahamas, Madagascar, and Montenegro, where the titular "Casino Royale" is located.

The villain of the piece is a terrorist banker named Le Chiffre, who sheds tears of blood from his left eye. Hardly a Blofeld-type figure, but exudes an air of European menace nonetheless.

The women of the piece were visually interesting, typical Bond girls. The presence of Dame Judi Dench (the only senior citizen I'd consider having sex with, well, her or Helen Mirren) as "M" is anomalous, however. If this is a reboot, and this is Bond's first assignment, and no other characters from previous films are featured, then shouldn't there be another--male--"M" as well?

Also gotta give dap to Basquiat himself, Jeffery Wright, who plays CIA man Felix Leiter, "the brother from Langley," in an understated performance.

The last act gets a bit confusing, as all the characters' true alliances and motivations come out. It's the only weak point of the film to me. But by then you're almost 2:20 in, so it's cool, I guess.

And there is a mention of a shadowy organization behind the events of "Casino Royale"; could it be SPECTRE?

Minor quibbles aside, "Casino Royale" delivers, as you have come to expect Bond to do. In an era where even Superman is all emo, James Bond is the only hero you can count on these days, at least until "Spiderman 3" comes out. It's worth full, nighttime price at your local cinema.

You will also come out with a strange craving to buy tailored suits, Omega watches, Sony products and Ford (and its divisions Jaguar and Aston-Martin) automobiles.

-AO :: 11:07 AM ::


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