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Friday, August 29, 2008

CASINO ROYALE (2006)

This overpraised entry in the James Bond canon scores big with its new leading man, Daniel Craig, who stokes a hefty dose of bruising masculinity.  (Think Steve McQueen, but Land's End rather than MidWest.)  Like Sean Connery, his ballsy, wrong-side-of-the-tracks nature works as ballast against the posh displays of worldly perks & pin-ups. This Bond isn't merely entitled to the good stuff, he's earned them.  But megger Martin Campbell, who nicely intro’d Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in GOLDENEYE, can’t do much with the starved narrative (poker & terrorism?) and rarely bothers to properly lay out the action stunts. He skips too many set-up shots so we miss out on the fun of playing along when Bond pulls off his impossible escapes. It’s all crash, blast & bludge, plus the ho-hum addition of overused, underwhelming digital effects. As the latest Bond girl, Eva Green upholds the long tradition of blah acting & little chemistry with her man.  But check out the early sparks between Craig & Catherina Murino, who shines in the antediluvian role of first lay/first slay. Some things never change.

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