Sunday, December 03, 2006

Movie Review: Casino Royale

The Kid had a sleepover at a friend's house Friday night, so the Mrs and I went out on a dinner-and-movie date, for the first time in I can't remember when. The restaurant will be reviewed another day. The movie we picked was the new James Bond film, Casino Royale.

If you haven't seen this one yet, you should. It's good. Really good. In fact, I think it may be the best Bond film ever.

Mind you, this is something I do not say lightly. As you might expect from the guy who wrote the capstone essay in James Bond in the 21st Century, I am a longtime fan of 007. I've seen all the movies, and read all of Ian Fleming's original novels. I thought Connery was terrific, grew to loathe Roger Moore in the role, and have even seen the 1967 version of Casino Royale that starred Peter Sellers and Woody Allen. (What can we say about that one? It was the Sixties. Drugs were involved.) My youthful chums and I were so thrilled by the Bond books that we even took the time and trouble to learn to play baccarat, and played it all summer long one year, which probably explains why I still don't know how to play sheepshead or cribbage.

The point is, I know Bond, perhaps to the point of obsessive excess, and this movie executes a brilliant reboot of a series that had become hackneyed, stale, and laughably awful. It's not a reinvention of Bond: it's a restoration, that includes more content from the original book than any film since From Russia With Love.

Or to put it another way: anything that Mike Myers parodied in Austin Powers? It's gone. The ludicrous gadgets, the wealthy megalomaniacs, the secret lairs, the buxom babes with cheesy double-entendres names, the overly complicated dipping mechanism? All gone. This is a new Bond, who lives in the real 21st century.

And damn, he's good.