Monday, 9 November 2015

Casino Royale 2 - Reappraisal

Why do I find Casino Royale (2006) so clunky and uneven? Why does it feel like a Frankenstein's monster of a film comprising of hastily stitched together Bond tropes? I now feel that the answer is that it is a montage of post modern quotations untimely ripped from colliding genres, unsure of its provenance and lacking in good faith. One feels that, quite often, it is going through the motions and cynically serving up what it thinks is required.

What do I mean by this? I had thought that the Vesper Lynd/Bond romance had the air of being committee-written, of being made up of bolt-on flat-packed plotting. A glance at Wikipedia on the subject of Vesper Lynd disabused me of this impression since I quickly learnt that the plot was pretty faithful to Ian Fleming's original story written in Casino Royale in 1953. That book is an affecting tale from another age of a romance marred by a former lover, hidden blackmail, and consequent betrayal. It has a prosaic realist edge to it harking forward to Le Carré and perhaps, later, to Len Deighton. Reading this on Wiki brought back my first enjoyment (subsequently forgotten) of the Bond books and the at once slightly seedy but glamorous post war world evoked by Fleming.

In the second film (2006) this plot collides with the modern need for high budget, high octane, shock and awe and special effects. So we have Fleming's plot larded with the defibrillator scene and bookended by the breath-taking parcours/parkour(?) sequence and the collapsible and immersible Venetian palazzo, both of which feel strangely gratuitous. These scenes jar, by being brutal, with a plot that professes to reveal something tender and human in Bond. The human interest in the story is too swiftly despatched, is not allowed to breathe and, ultimately, seems cursorily drawn. This is reinforced by Bond's strangely business-like conversation with M very soon after Vesper's demise.

Of course, one shouldn't treat Bond films with high seriousness or ask too much of them in terms of literary qualities and continuities but, maybe one should ask for some internal consistency and some sureness of touch in such a high budget enterprise. The film tries too hard to be all things to all men and falls on its face.

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