Martin Campbell :: UK / USA / Czech Republic :: 2006 :: 2h18
Obtaining his 007-status, James Bond becomes a full agent of MI6, the British secret service. His first mission is to try to dismantle an informal banking service to terrorists. The banker has a taste for gambling, so Bond puts on his tuxedo and sets off for a Casino in Montenegro accompanied by a beautiful representative of the Treasury, played by Eva Green. The plot does not actually follow the series, but never mind that (it’s set after the cold war!).
The first Bond movie with Daniel Craig in the lead role clearly sets out a new route. From the outset, we are presented by a violent chase scene followed by a ruthless disregard of life, property and diplomatic relations. By the time the title and opening credits show up, the traditional female form has, disappointingly, been replaced by animated scenes of violence (?!). There can no longer be any mistake that the 21st episode of the Bond series plans a change of direction. One peculiar choice is that Bond became a lot less British and a lot more like an All American Action Hero. The loss of character will be lamented but has also allowed some character development, which is rare in Bond movies. But the greatest moment of change, to my mind, occurs when a bartender asks Bond of he wants his drink ‘Shaken or stirred’, to which Bond dryly responds: ‘Do I look like I give a damn?’ A nice touch.
Although the start is somewhat worrying, the movie quickly takes a turn for the better with a spectacular chase through a building site. A masterfully made scene which creates quite a bit of goodwill to survive some of the more tedious ones, most notably the excessively long card game with silly explanations thrown in. Perhaps it is surprising that the end result is so entertaining, as there are plenty more imperfections scattered around: including an unnecessary, unappealing torture scene, Bond being miraculously saved by his leading lady and some silly product placements (the best one would be the family car Bond takes from the airport in Nassau). But that all should not put you off, there is plenty left to keep you going, which I will not ruin by spelling them out.
It might take a bit of getting used to a Bond who is more of a blue-collar killer (who calls his dead leading lady a ‘bitch’) rather than the sophisticated, gentlemanly secret agent we were used to, but why not change the rules. The new Bond, with a powerful M as his boss, is ready to affront the fictional challenges of the 21st century. Do not hesitate to go in to see the introduction of the re-invented James Bond to decide for yourselves.