Magazine article The Spectator

00 Heaven

Magazine article The Spectator

00 Heaven

Article excerpt

Casino Royale 12A, nationwide

I'm sorry, but I've never liked a Bond film or even understood why everyone loves and anticipates them so. All that sameness. All those explosions that Bond just manages to throw himself clear from.

Phew. That's a relief. What a narrow escape. All those Bonds who weren't so much ruthless secret agents as sleek male mannequins who could surely have done with stunt doubles for the acting scenes.

But Casino Royale? It's absolutely terrific.

I can't recall the last film that held me totally spellbound for nearly two and a half hours, and an action one? Never. You must see it. You must see it now, no excuses, and you mustn't wait for the DVD. At last, a cinema film that is genuinely and properly cinematic. Get a babysitter. Fail to get a babysitter, put all sharp implements and toxic cleaning fluids out of reach and hope for the best. Just go see it, OK?

Casino Royale has pulled it off on all counts. It delivers the basic goods -- the chases, the fireball explosions, the lavish glamour, the Aston Martins -- yet it is also intelligent, moving, involving and sexy.

You will be shaken, stirred, left to settle and then shaken and stirred all over again.

I'm still shaking and stirring as I write.

Why? Daniel Craig. He is stunning; a serious actor who not only takes the part seriously, but does so with astonishing presence, an athlete's grace and an almost animalistic power that he manages so skilfully to temper with a softer soulfulness. When he is on screen you cannot look at anything else, not even the back of Mark Kermode's hair. Craig's face shouldn't work, really. It looks like a pumpkin someone has taken a hammer to, but teamed with what are, surely, the most thrilling blue-blue eyes ever, it really does. He is no Pierce or Roger, largely because he is so fascinating to watch.

With Casino Royale it's not so much a return as a new beginning. It's based on Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, published in 1953, yet refashioned for the now.

Yes, it acts as if all the other Bond films hadn't happened, which I rather wish they hadn't, and takes Bond back to his very roots; to when he's a raw, far blunter instrument who makes mistakes, can fall in love and has just been awarded a licence to kill that he's not particularly sure he wants.

What is it going to do to him, as a person, in the end? This is a film not just about what Bond became, but also about what he could otherwise have become. …

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