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Casino Royale (2006)

a friend of mine expressed interest in seeing Skyfall at some point soon and so i thought i should catch up and watch Daniel's first foray into Bond-dom. The last Bond film i saw was i think Pierce Brosnan's first one which i wasn't particularly impressed with.

The first 45 minutes or so of Casino Royale was a mess of contradictions in my head. I grew up watching Bond films, saw all of the Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Timothy Dalton films, and even though i don't remember more than snippets of details about those movies, there's something very unmistakeable about them, a signature to them that makes them Bond. Casino Royale had that characteristic, and the nostalgic part of me reveled in it - while another part of me, the critical part of me, looked at it and said, "huh. Daniel Craig hasn't said more than one or two word lines for most of this movie so far. Oh look, another really absurd high-adrenaline inducing Thing happening. oh look, daniel craig seducing the girl within the span of five minutes and with little to no dialogue whatsoever. yaaaaawn."

Based on that opening i expected to really dislike the film for the same reason that Craig had initially hesitated to take the role - that it, like most Bond films, had descended into formula. But after the first act was out of the way, the movie and how Craig was written vastly improved, and this is where Craig shone as Bond. His acting in the torture scene and the writing of it was pretty remarkable, reminding me crazily of the Wash and Mal's torture scene from the Firefly episode >War Stories, Eva Green was a great Bond Girl in that she wasn't a straightforward swooning sex object (i guess they had to get that out of the way with the first girl), and the movie became more fun because of that as well as other depths. By the end i came to the conclusion that it was all pretty good - not stellar, but not a disappointment by any means.

The amount of time that they spent on the hold 'em tournament and the sort of complexity they were trying to convey in the final hand surprised me at first until i realized that the film was made when the hold 'em craze had swept the nation after Moneymaker's WSOP win in 2004. The final hand of the tournament felt unrealistic to me only because there's no way that four people should have been in that hand after the flop. With a BB of $1m, token black guy, first to act and with an M in the red zone would have shoved preflop with his short stack. Depending on the size of the raise (it's not very clear what happened preflop) La Chiffre would either fold his A6 or reraise to try to isolate heads up since token black only had $5m left in front of him and then would have folded if Bond 4-bet into him - which with Bond's speculative hand would have been unlikely. Even if for some reason it played itself preflop weirdly, all of the shoving action should have occurred on the flop when the token asian guy flopped the flush draw and the token black guy flopped the set.

but okay, dramatic hand tension needed, and of course the showdown had to be done like every single hold 'em showdown hand is done in movies or TV where they show the weakest hands first to the dramatic super nuts hand last. No wonder so many novices in the poker room try to slow-roll.

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Nov. 14th, 2012 07:11 am (UTC)
When you say you weren't impressed with the Brosnan one you saw, I really hope it wasn't his first. GoldenEye was the first, and the only one of the four that I think stands up to other Bonds, and it stands up pretty well. Good story, well-acted, realistic villian. Maybe I'm just biased, though, because it also resulted in one of the best video games ever.

Moving on... poker is always hard to watch in movies, but for some reason it was so much harder in Casino Royale. The rest of the movie felt real and serious, so it blew my mind that they would make the poker scene so silly. Especially after the earlier poker scene seemed somewhat realistic. If the final hand of a tournament results in that many simeoultaneous strong hands, then any intelligent person in the room would assume it was setup. I realize they're trying to make it compelling, but they did it by completely destroying the realism for anyone who has played poker before. Compare it to a movie like Maverick, where they still made the final hand compelling, and it was believable *because* it was setup. The only thing that was a stretch was Maverick's ability to pull the Ace of Spades out of a deck of 32 or 33 cards, but that was part of his character development, so it fit the story. I'm not saying they should have copied that scene, but it's just an example of poker that can be both believable and compelling.
Nov. 14th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC)
i don't think it was goldeneye. i'm too lazy to go figure it out. i think halle whatsherface was the bond girl.
Nov. 14th, 2012 08:07 am (UTC)
Ah, Die Another Day. Yeah, not so great...
Nov. 14th, 2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
Skyfall had some stuff in it that seemed grossly unrealistic to me. I'll just say that you'll probably know what it is when you see it.
Nov. 16th, 2012 08:21 am (UTC)
for example, the entire plot

and not just grossly unrealistic for a movie--grossly unrealistic compared to other bond movies. hard to do. but the performance from the villain makes the movie.
Apr. 27th, 2013 04:01 pm (UTC)
I just read the book, and it reminded me of this.

The movie was actually an amazingly faithful translation of the spirit of the book into the Bond mythos that's built up around it in the last 50 years. I honestly am a bit surprised how little the key points changed.

The biggest change is going to poker. In the book, it was baccarat, and.. also played out in excruciating detail. Going to poker was actually a huge improvement. It's a game with a ton more skill involved than baccarat. Though the way it was portrayed in the movie, you might not believe that.
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