I’ve never been much of a James Bond fan. As a kid, I watched some of the Sean Connery ones and enjoyed them, but never enough to think “Hey, there’s a Bond movie on tonight! Let’s watch it.” Roger Moore always struck me as eminently kickable, and in my books Pierce Brosnan is the better, more interesting Bond in John Boorman’s The Tailor of Panama than in any of his actual Bond movies. Especially in the last couple of Bond flicks, the writing devolved to the level of a bad Christmas panto, with puns so atrocious you have to be pissed on eggnog to appreciate.
Yesterday, I watched Casino Royale for the second time. More so than at the cinema, I was struck less by how different it was from the earlier Bond movies than by how similar it is in many respects. When it came out, critics kept saying how the franchise had taken some pointers from the Bourne movies, and that’s definitely true – but it’s still as glossy and slick as its predecessors. Bond’s world is still that of the rich and famous, not the more faceless, banal world that Bourne tries to survive in.
Nevertheless, I found the film just as intriguing on the second viewing as when I saw it at the cinema, and that’s mainly down to the much tighter writing and to the two leads. David Craig has an effortless arrogance that complements his rough-hewn exterior perfectly. Craig makes Bond an interesting character much of whose charisma comes from his brutal ruthlessness. You actually believe that he is capable of what he does, whereas I could never buy Brosnan’s derring-do adventures.
More so, however, Eva Green is a brilliant asset to the film. Not only is she breathtakingly beautiful, she too is a much more rounded character than any other Bond girl I can remember. Neither Green nor Craig seem to have thought, “I don’t really have to act, it’s only Bond.” They approached their roles as if they were actual rounded characters, and that makes watching them so much more interesting than watching the action figures you got in most of the franchise’s movies in the last ten, twenty years.
Seeing how two franchises – Bond and Batman – were rescued from their worst moments (Die Another Day, Batman & Robin), I’m definitely looking forward to where they’ll go next. It would be a shame for them to flicker and burn briefly only to fizzle out yet again.