Movie Review: Casino Royale (2006)

I find myself not wanting to dwell on this movie any longer than necessary. It haswell-crafted action, but the move towards realism disturbs me. Bond films are always dangerous because they present a hero with extreme positive and negative attributes. My problem is not with the unrealistic action or technology, but with the character construction itself. The movie holds up this man as a hero, imbuing him with impeccable manners and taste in clothing, extraordinary daring, confidence, and fighting ability. They even have him fighting to protect the innocent from harm.

What's there not to like? I find it impossible to believe that a casual killer could remain "good" for long. (It's kind of like in "Lord of the Rings" where to use the One Ring would essentially turn it's wielder into another Sauron.) To associate so many positive qualities with so many negative ones is confusing - is James Bond a role-model or not? The Astin-Martins, impeccable clothing, rich life-style, and beautiful women ensure that audiences will err on the side of "James Bond *is* a role-model". I find that unfortunate.

But this is a man who kills a *lot* of people. Some of them in cold blood. When did assasins and spies - professional liars and killers - become role models?

Previous Bond films (not to mention countless other films in the same vein, especially the Bourne series) all had this same issue. But they also were so over-the-top that it was easy to accept as a cartoon. This latest installment, for the very reasons that the critics seem to laud, blurs that line and becomes more dangerous.

In many other respects the movie shines. Eva Green (of "The Dreamers" fame) is really gorgeous and exudes both with and smoldering sensuality. The action is shot with great skill - especially the opening "Precinct 13" inspired foot chase through a Madagascar construction site.

There is no doubt this will be a big hit. I just hope that people get entertained and think "I'm glad I don't have to be James Bond!" rather than "I really want to be James Bond!"

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