Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale

Every few years, a new Bond film comes out and at some point or another, my Dad and I watch it together. This goes back to when I was a kid and TBS ran its month of Bond movies and we'd watch them together, night after night, him telling me all these stories about the actors. It became something we looked forward to, a way for us to spend some time together and grow even closer, much to my Mum's chagrin by the time the month was halfway through and I was asking her if she expected me to die. When Goldeneye came out in 1995, it was one that my dad and I enjoyed together. Over the next three, our interests waned a bit and by Die Another Day we both saw it but not together. When a new one was announced, neither of us took much notice.

But on Thursday night, Dad came upstairs and asked me if I wanted to see Casino Royale on Saturday. Just starting to nod off, I said yes and we agreed to talk about it on Friday. At some point after dinner, he told me the story behind wanting to see it: when he was around my age, he read the book and enjoyed it so much, he even went to Monaco to go to the real Casino Royale. This shaped a good part of his wandering time in Europe and the rest of his life. Suddenly, another part of the mystery of my father's young life came into better focus. And I wanted to see the movie even more.

After over half an hour of driving through the parking lot and waiting in lines, we sat down with our popcorn and talked a bit, the idle chit-chat of something very familiar. When the lights dimmed, we were somewhere else. I was a kid again and I was going to hear some stories. Of course, that's never the way it actually works when you're in your twenties, not quite. I'm not twelve, that can't be helped. But we whispered jokes to eachother and snuck eachother grins. Dad pointed out the original Aston Martin from Goldfinger and we grimaced when the new one was destroyed. He teased me after the climax, reminding me that he know how it ended. Eventually, we stood up and left with everybody else.

The movie was good. For all the world's worries, Daniel Craig plays a very good Bond, very much like Connery in the first films I saw as a boy. He's a very serious Bond, just learning some of his later flair. And he's not very likeable, but very few murderers are. I'd recommend it wholeheartedly and see it again. The plot is smooth and well thought out with enough twists to keep it interesting. The characters are vivid and M is at her most sympathetic yet. Casino Royale is Bond stripped down to the bare essentials, and I'm very much looking forward to the next one. At the very least, I'll get to hear a few more stories.

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