Casino Royale

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Casino Royale
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Daniel Craig is Bond. James Bond. And for all you Bond aficionados out there, don't worry - he's a superb James Bond despite the blonde hair, blue eyes and tight bathing suit. He's cool, calm, collected, cold-blooded, witty, great with the gals, looks good in a tuxedo and for the ladies and men of a certain ilk, he's ripped like a Greek God. And this Bond doesn't hesitate to show off his newfound body. He seems to walk around half the movie either shirtless, in a very skimpy bathing suit and even butt-naked, although the butt-naked part isn't really by choice.

In "Casino Royale", James Bond is tackling international terrorism and terrorism financing and ultimately finds himself entangled in a high stakes poker game, face-to-face and staring in the half-eye of the top financial advisor to the world's most notorious terrorists. Of course there's more to the story than a mere game of Texas Hold 'Em. Along the way, Bond leaps from tall structures, hacks computers, dodges bullets, survives a collapsing building, races in fancy cars, fights a machete-wielding dictator and gets beaten, burned, poisoned and tortured like we've never seen James Bond get beaten, burned, poisoned and tortured before. I have to admit, when I first saw the aforementioned torture scene, I really questioned why Bond was crying like a little baby. I mean, we've all been spanked on the ass at some point in our lives and considering the pain Bond endured during the entire movie, you figure he could take a little tap on the touche. But then they sort of explained exactly what was happening to Bond and, yeah, he probably wasn't screaming nearly as much as he should have been. Great scene.

What about the rest of "Casino Royale" you might ask? The movie opens with a chase scene that is simply unbelievable. It's long but will keep you fascinated the entire time. The poker games in "Casino Royale" are great and at times very intense, which is quite an accomplishment for a make-believe poker game or at least a poker game where we are pretty sure we know how it is going to end. The bad guys in the movie are as bad as bad can be. They would probably push their own mothers off the boat if it meant a step forward for terrorism and, in the world of bad guys, there's nothing wrong with that. I also really liked how Daniel Craig's James Bond was not as smooth and elegant as Bonds from the past. He makes mistakes. He gets beaten down on more than one occasion. He doesn't have all the neat little gadgets to play with. Instead, he often has to rely on his own brainpower and athleticism to get things done. And this Bond, when asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, well, wait till you see what he says. Daniel Craig is not your typical Bond and yet he is still outstanding.

But is this movie perfect? No, not really. I found the story a bit convoluted at times and near the end, very rushed. I had trouble following a few scenarios that seemed to jump around a bit with timelines that did not seem to match up with what was going on in the movie. Also, I wasn't completely sold on the whole romance angle in the movie. It just didn't seem too real. There were even a few times that I had trouble following the dialogue in the movie, probably because of the strong British accents and the fast-talking. My brain is incapable of translating both English accents and fast-talking at the same time. I also wish we would have gotten to know the characters a bit more. For the most part, all the characters, except for Bond himself, are kind of glazed over. I thought the bad asses were pretty bad, although I would have preferred to have more of a hate-on for them. Maybe if they would have pushed their mother off the boat or something like that, it would have added to the movie.

Despite my few gripes about "Casino Royale", I still thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I would have to say it is the best action movie of the year. I will warn you to take my word with a grain of salt because I'm not a huge James Bond fan. In fact, I'm quite embarrassed to say that this is probably only the second or third Bond movie I've ever seen in my life. However, I can assure you of this - after seeing "Casino Royale" and Daniel Craig, it will definitely not be the last.

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