Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cold, calculating and confusing

This post contains some spoilers.
The latest James Bond - Casino Royale - is a superbly made movie in every respect: extreme stunts, exhausting chases (the one on foot near the opening is phenomenal and then is followed not long after by one that demolishes vehicles left right and centre), excellent photography with depth and colour and style, great art design and detail, fabulous locations – what more could you want?
Yet, it’s cold at heart. Okay, this suits the plot which is about a man who is emotionally detached and must remain cold in order to do his job. For a brief time he melts, but it’s only to lose the warmth he’s gained a few scenes later. Daniel Craig does a superb job as a cold-hearted character, but the problem is it’s hard to warm to him in any way. And his lady friend, Eva Green, though she’s beautiful, is seldom without suspicion about Bond. M is tougher than ever, and frustrated by her newest 007.
Which is another point: this is supposed to be when Bond earns his 007 status, but it’s rather confusing: here is an M who is older than ever, and of a different sex to the M of the early movies; here is a Bond who isn’t any chicken – he’s nearly 40 – and yet he’s playing a man who’s at the beginning of his career. Of course such niceties don’t concern us in general – we’re now used to having a different face for Bond on different occasions (he’s rather like Dr Who in this respect) – but it makes for an odd storyline somehow.
There’s virtually no humour in it – Bond makes a rather weak joke while being tortured, but the expression on the villain’s face is rather the same as that on the audience’s: how strange to make such a joke at such a time, particularly when this Bond doesn’t seem to be into humour at all. And he himself laughs at it. Hmm.
There’s an intriguing take-off scene towards the end when Eva Green, dressed thoroughly in bright red, flits through dark corridors on the edges of the canals in Venice. It’s intended, I suspect, to be reminiscent of Don’t Look Now, where a small woman in red kept turning up in a similar fashion and was pursued by Donald Sutherland as a distraught father.
I said this film was confusing: I must be getting old, but I found the last stages of the movie very odd. By the time it had finished, some ten minutes after it seemed about to finish, I wasn’t sure whether the woman was true or false, I hadn’t realised that the guy with the patch over his eye was the same one who’d been shot in the head in an earlier scene, nor that Mr White was the man who’d supposedly shot him. Quite honestly, in spite of M’s carefully enunciated explanation, I wasn’t any the wiser. Oh, well.

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