Sunday, November 26, 2006

Casino Royale

Took Son No2 (11) to see the new Bond. I hadn't read anything about it beyond the headlines that Google News displays, which led me to think that it was not a disappointment.

A view I would share. The new Bond is different to the earlier incarnations and seems able to open up a bit of new territory for the character. Much less new technology. In fact, the big chase is on foot through a building site and is very impressive. The torture scene is brutally primitive and the finale is very low-key spectacular with a Venetian palace collapsing into the muddy waters.

It did drag towards the end. In part, this is due to the relationship to the lady, which gets sort of serious what with Bond sending in his resignation so as to stop in time to save 'what little soul is left'. You know that's not going to last, so you have to wait to see how.

But the real problem is with the thrust of the plot itself. James Bond always deals either with super-rich nutters out for world domination/destruction or with the Big Baddies of the day. Obviously, the Soviets are long gone, though their descendents may well feature in future episodes, which leaves terrorism.

In fact, it is the financing of terrorism that is the object of Bond's attentions. He kills one terrorist intent on wreaking havoc at the launch of the world's largest airliner (strangely transplanted to the US, as I suppose the backers of the Airbus A380 probably wish it was). The only other terrorist that appears is an African chap who hands over his impressive fortune to the main baddie of the film, Le Chiffre.

Le Chiffre is, as the name says, just a figures man. He upsets the terrorist fraternity with some creative, though unfortunate investments of their money and the secret services want to use this to get him to talk about his terrorist masters. Needless to say, he's called away to a meeting in Heaven before this happens, which is bad news for the goodies because they can't now get to the heart of the matter.

Having glimpsed him a couple of times already, the spectator knows the face of the Master, and, at the end, so does Bond. (It occasions a lovely way to make a tardy introduction of the new actor - only at the last does he deliver the catch-phrase introduction and do we hear the Bond music.) Who is this Master of Terrorism? A sophisticated European-looking bloke with the air of someone who treats women badly and dogs well, a Jag and a quaint turreted manor above an Italian lake.

Puzzling. What possible interest could such a gent have in funding international terrorism ('international' is the only modifier applied throughout the film to the noun 'terrorism')? Could it be that the writers/producers are just falling back on an old reliable stand-by? Could it be that they did not dare make mention of the international crime that is present as a rhetorical and plot device, but almost apologetically? Is this another case of pre-emptive censorship?

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