THIS month, BlogalongaBond bids Brosnan bye-bye and turns its collective attention to new boy Daniel Craig.
While most of the other bloggers and critics have been flying solo in their bid to review a 007 movie each month in the lead up to Skyfall, I've been undertaking the challenge with my girlfriend, who will probably never forgive me for it.
Here's our conversation in the wake of watching Casino Royale.
Her: That wasn't a Bond film.
Me: I assure you it was. I mean, the main guy's name was James Bond....
Her: Yes, but it wasn't Bond enough, if you know what I mean. Where were Q and Moneypenny? Where were the gadgets? Where were the cheesy one-liners and lame double entendres? Where were the diabolical plans of world domination? Where were the endless sexual conquests?
Me: I guess this is a more modern Bond for the new millenium - a more realistic one in tune with the films of the time. And I think that in trimming some of the fat off what was becoming an increasingly bloated franchise during the Brosnan years, it allowed the series to get back to the bits of Bond that really matter.
Her: But that's not Bond! How does this have 'the bits of Bond that really matter'?
Me: Well, without a surplus of gadgets, he has to rely on his wits, his strengths and his gun. That makes him a better, more believable spy. And I could do without the cheesy one-liners and the poorly written romances and flings, and the daft caricature villains and the invisible cars. And besides, weren't those a lot of the things you complained about in the other movies?
Her: Yeah, but those things are Bond! And, on top of that, this guy's not Bond.
Me: You didn't like Daniel Craig?
Her: Oh no, he was great. But his 007 is a new guy who's only just gotten is 00 licence. Bond isn't a new guy!
Me: I've told you before about the theory that James Bond is just a position or identity taken on by a different spy each few years....
Her: Don't start that again....
Me: But this movie backs up that theory nicely.
Her: Look, I don't see how this is a proper Bond film. It's not like the others.
Me: It is in lots of ways. Bond is still a debonair ladies' man who gambles, drinks and fights for Queen and country, stopping idiosyncratic villains from their evil plans using his brains and braun. In fact, you could argue that this is the best Bond film ever.
Her: Go on....
Me: Well, it doesn't make any of the mistakes that hamper so many of the other films. There are no serious flaws and everything it does, it does well. It handles its relationship well, particularly that of Vesper and Bond, as well as the dynamic between M and Bond. Its villain isn't ludicrous and is actually scary. Nor is the film brainless. The dialogue is sharp, the set pieces are brilliant and there's not a dud performance to be seen. Also it's dark and messed up, which is something that's been hinted at before but never so fully embraced.
Her: You mean the scene where Bond gets tortured....
Me: Yes. My balls are still aching in sympathy. But sore nuts aside, I think Casino Royale takes everything great about Bond, discards the rest, and gives us something that is not slavish about the series' history, yet is still very much 007 in spirit. It's learnt from the mistakes of the past, embraced the trends of the time by realising that 007 looked anachronistic compared to Jason Bourne or even Ethan Hunt, yet never lost sight of what Bond represents - the epitome of cool, clever, and kick-arse.
Her: You're right.
Me: Sorry... what?
Her: I said 'you're right'?
Her: Yes. No need to go on about it.
Me: Yeah, but this is a rare moment in history....
Her: Can we just get back to the movie?
Me: Just say it one more time.
Her: Sigh. You're right.
Me: Thank you. Ok. So did you enjoy Casino Royale, despite its unBondyness?
Her: Sure. It's not crap. The parkour sequence is absolutely incredible.
Me: Agreed. That has to be one of the best set pieces the franchise has ever seen.
Her: Yeah. And the card game was enjoyable. Although its a serious step down in spectacle compared to, oh I don't know, para-surfing a tidal wave caused by a giant sun laser.
Me: But what if there was no Bond in Casino Royale and it was just a regular movie? Do you think you'd rate it higher than 'it's not crap'?
Her: I don't know. That's a difficult question. But I do know that Eva Green is excellent and Craig is great. And buff. Although I don't know that Bond should be that buff.
Me: What about the song and opening credit sequence?
Her: Both were great.
Her: Who sang the song?
Me: Chris Cornell.
Her: Who's that? I know the name....
Me: Ha. Nice one.
Me: 'I know the name'. You made a funny.
Me: The song's called You Know My Name. Sorry, I thought you made a clever joke there.
Her: I really wish I did now. Can you just write it in your blog to make it so I actually did make that joke on purpose?
Her: Then I take back saying you were right.
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