Retarded Reviews: Casino Royale

Retarded as in “late”, that is. En retard. Other retardation is strictly normal. Spoilers abound, because you’ve already seen it. Unless you haven’t, in which case: what are you; retarded? (readers in Chile exempt, of course…)

So. Saw the new Bond movie. It’s pretty good. It leaves every male audience member subconsciously doing swishy things with their jacket, and trying to emulate that sort of flicky-footed stride that Brosnan did so well. So, if you think you’ll be amused by a corridor full of dewy-eyed malcoordinates looking like they’re trying to kick to death a horde of invisible chihuahuas, I strongly recommend hanging around outside showings of this movie. The alternative is developing some sort of chihuahua cloaking technology and loitering at clinics for goths with household pet phobias, and I know which I’d go for.

We all know what we expect from a Bond movie by now, and by and large, this movie doesn’t deliver. This is a good thing. Granted, there’s still a fair bit of quippery and dubious seductive dialogue, but it’s all done with a healthy amount of (whisper it) irony to go along with the cheese. Things almost veer too far in this direction, in fact; at some points the movie seems to come crashing to a halt in order to send up some bit of Bond lore, as if the writers felt the need to sledgehammer the audience with the message that THIS IS DIFFERENT. Coming shortly after Bond (with a complete lack of irony) explodes the bottom of a man who was trying to drive an airport truck into a prototype passenger jet, this gets a bit rich*.

But still: there’s no Q. No-one tells Bond to “pay attention”. No missiles are fired from the front of an implausible car. There aren’t any lasers, let alone sharks. The only car chase ends in about 8 seconds, without the two cars getting anywhere near each other, let alone using their ejector seats. While the airport duel is pretty classic Bond, it’s almost incidental in the bigger picture. This could be because the bigger picture is rather confusing, the screenwriting equivalent of a Picasso; noses everywhere, other limbs wherever they fit.

This didn’t really matter much, because the plot was just an excuse to get the characters in one room, in tuxedos. This movie involved poker. Quite a lot of poker. Even if you ignore the double-entendre potential of the word “poker”, as the script remarkably does, there was more than enough to go around. Luckily for those not well-versed in the ins and outs of high stakes Hold ‘Em, there was a bumbling french character on hand to explain what was going on to the Bond girl.

“Zey are all in; zat means ‘ooever wins zis ‘and is ze winner.”

Ze Bond girl in question was of course a highly experienced international banker sent to oversee the management of $15 million, but it was still nice of him to fill her in on this basic matter of betting protocol. Nonetheless, Eva Green survived this outrageous patronisation and gave every impression of being really rather clever, despite spending almost all of her screen time being overtly leered over by both Jim and the surrogate Clouseau.

The last line of the movie is The Line, studiously avoided for the preceding two and a half hours. After about 45 minutes of false endings, a ludicrously tacked-on romance, betrayal, counter-betrayal, revelation and catastrophic loss, Daniel Craig finally shoots someone right in the fucking ankle (grrr!). He stands over their cowering form and says:

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

And he is.

* For those curious as to how one might ironically explode a potential terrorist’s bottom, the trick is to find a terrorist hell-bent on blowing up a liposuction lab.

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