Casino Royale

by thetank
Submitted on Sun, 26/11/2006 - 6:34am
Daniel Craig is the new James Bond, a choice which surprised many. Most people (including myself) went into the cinema a little sceptical as to whether or not they could pull it off. When I came out, I was left in no doubt that they had.

The casting worked, perhaps they thought that for a slightly different Bond film, they’d need a slightly different Bond.

Indeed, the film wasn’t at all what we’re used to from the franchise. Bond didn’t get past second base with any of the girls he just met, he needed to make an emotional commitment before he got any pudding, the psychological consequences of killing random bad guys were explored, and the only gadget in his car that got used was a first aid kit. The main difference though, was that Bond has a lot more depth than we’re used to.  He exhibits more frailties and character flaws than we’ve seen from the role in the past. It helped to make it all a little more believable.

The main thing it lacked was a decent amount of pace and suspense towards the end. The lovey-dovey stuff disrupted the momentum of the film, and the world was never in jeopardy of blowing up if 007 didn’t make good. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely a Bond film, still plenty guns, explosions and one-liners. What I’m trying to say is that it’s the first one I’ve seen in a long while that felt fresh. I'm now excited about what the next one will be like.

Central to the plot of course, was a game of poker. Bond has finally realised that all the funkiest people in this world play single table tournaments. We all knew that if this upstart secret service agent is serious about being the personification of cool, he’d have to conjure up some loose reason to join one.

As this is a poker site, I guess I should move on to that side of things. Inevitably there is a little hoo-hawing within the card game community about how the subject matter of poker is dealt with in the popular media. The most common complaint, is of unrealistic hands being dealt.

You know I've never really understood that, Police officers don’t go to the movies and gripe about how car chases don’t work like that in real life. Or maybe they do, I just only ever hear police say “put that down” or “you can’t piss there.”

Personally, I’ve no problem with the nuts beating the second nuts, and four-way hands where every player has some fantastical holding that would make Jessie May explode with excitement if he ever tried to describe them. A little bit of overkill is to be expected. They have to get plot points across, and spending screen time explaining to a mainstream audience that Bond is making a shrewd value bet or something would be unworkable.

There was only one cringe worthy moment for me when it came to the poker. That was just after Bond made the one allowed re-buy into the tournament. He sits down, looks at his arch enemy and says “Why don’t we raise the blinds?”

Would be a cool thing to say in a cash game, but in a tournament, it just looks like James wants a more crap shooty structure. Of course it'll still sound cool to most, but it got me fidgeting in my seat.

I forgave them, because there were a couple of lines in there that made the poker connoisseur in me feel as if I was being specifically catered for. I was ready to throw my popcorn at the screen (or would have been if I didn’t eat it all during the trailers) when during a cash game hand, a guy reaches for his wallet. The dealer interrupts with “I’m sorry sir, table stakes” and I put my kernels back in the bag.
Also, during the big STT, Bond asks to be dealt out… "It’s your big blind" the TD insists that 007 posts and folds while he pops off on his messages or whatever. It was enough to keep in my good books.

So if you haven’t seen it yet, I don’t care how big your telly is, get yourself down to the pictures and buy yourself a ticket. It’s not that James Bond films were designed for the cinema, it’s that cinemas were designed for James Bond.

The name’s tank……

Thomas 'thetank' Stott