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Archive for November 13th, 2010

James Bond was created in 1953 when Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale was published. The British secret agent hit the big screen just under a decade later with the first movie Dr. No in 1962. As such Bond’s origins like Flemings go back to the second world war, Fleming worked for the director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy, he was commissioned as a lieutenant and rose to the rank of Commander (the same rank he gave to his fictional creation). As Fleming returned to civilian life the Cold War was starting making Bond very much a cold war character. Whilst the character has a very defined arc across the series of books they all date from mid fifties to mid sixties, the movies however have had to adapt and develop in order to stay reverent over time. In the seventies he joined the space race (Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker), in the late 80’s as Mikhail Gorbachev embraced the idea of Glasnost a new Bond took on East – West relations before embarking on a battle with a new enemy, the drug trade. Then Bond disappeared from our screens for a time. The brief hiatus was caused by a legal dispute, once settled yet another new Bond took over finding the world a different place after The Berlin Wall came down. As the villains plans got more elaborate and Bonds gadgets got more preposterous the franchise lost its relevance and something new was needed, we received it with Casino Royale. As MGM work through their financial situation we do not know where the series will go next, but one thing we do know; James Bond WILL return!

Casino Royale (2006)

“Christ I miss the cold war” – M

Bond was conceived in the cold war and after forty years of evolution had lost relevance and all connection with reality. In essence Bond is a character from a time travel movie who after around 1977 (or possibly even 1965) never completely fits into the modern world. Opinions differed as to how best to restore the franchise to its former glory, some (including me) advocated a return to the original source material and a 1950/60’s setting. Others suggested something more like the all action Bourne movies, as it turned out a middle ground was the best option. Taking the first Bond novel at its centre and expanding on it to create a rounded movie that is essentially a reboot taking the franchise back to year one.

The black and white pre credit sequence takes us back to a pre 00 (licence to kill) Bond (Daniel Craig), it is raw, bloody, brutal, visceral but more importantly it is basic simple and brilliant; the perfect antidote to the overblown excess of its predecessors. We next meet Bond on assignment; in a scene involving a fantastic parkour chase, a mission to capture a bomb maker goes wrong. Bond follows the evidence resulting in a chain of events that culminate in him taking part in a high-stakes poker tournament against terrorist banker/financier LeChiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) who is attempting to win back the money he lost because of Bond. This tournament is where we rejoin Ian Fleming’s source material, true the setting has changed from France to Montenegro and the game from baccarat to Texas hold ‘em poker but the essence of the story survives.

This may be a reboot and an attempt to get new and younger viewers onboard (a successful one) but it is also a Bond movie through and through full of themes and references to what has gone before. The conversations Bond has with Vesper Lynd (Green) and M (Judi Dench) are equally as epic and important as the action scenes. Whilst I still believe From Russia With Love is the best Bond film ever Casino Royale is comfortably the second best and certainly the best made within my lifetime.

Click here to see the whole article on Movie Mobsters

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