As far as I'm concerned, anything is better than the invisible car fiasco of "Die Another Day," a film that crapped all over the Bond series like an incontinent elephant.
It's pretty clear from "Casino Royale," in what amounts to a re-imagining of the Bond series, that the filmmakers felt the same way. Gone are the double-entendres, stupid women's names, and the predictable Bond phrases like "shaken, not stirred." But fuck me on a bed of nails and call me whiny if showing Bond driving a Ford isn't going too far. Sure, it's an unusual Ford, but would Bond ever get in a Ford? Quick answer: no. Even if he's traveled to Miami, he's not just going to hop in any old car they give him.
The thing that makes this film dumb is that it's set in present day and Judi Dench once again stars as M, yet it follows Bond from his early days as he learns how to be 007. So essentially, the filmmakers are jettisoning the old Bond and recreating a new Bond so that they can continue the series without having to link this one to the past. Bond starts now.
So, among the non-Bond like things that happens is that Bond falls in love and gets all weepy and quits. Bond plays poker. Bond doesn't have any Bond lines. In fact, he asks for a martini at a bar, the bartender asks him "shaken or stirred?" and Bond replies, "Do I look like I care?" This is definitely a Bond for a new era. His catch phrase is now "do I look like a care?" I'm sure teenagers all over the world will love him.
Bond sort of goes off on his own to catch Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who is the banker to the world's terrorists and has some kind of eye duct problem that causes him to weep blood. Bond signs up for a Texas Hold 'Em tournament (what else would they play, right?) and meets Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who's in charge of giving Bond money (the tourney requires millions of dollars to play). During the course of the tournament, Bond falls in love with Vesper, becomes her bitch, and quits. Apparently, it's imperative that he be jilted a few times so his womanizing seems more believable later on.
Paul ("Crash") Haggis worked on the script, so it was quite a surprise that there weren't ten different stories and a couple dozen different characters intersecting with Bond at different times. Is this guy the most overrated screenwriter working? I don't think he gives Bond a single decent line.
As for Craig, his biggest contribution to the Bond legacy is teeth-clenching. That's what seemed to make his Bond. "Casino Royale" is royal alright -- a royal pain.
To spread the word about this Casino Royale review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.