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Casino Royale - action adventure DVD review
CASINO ROYALE rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright
Director: Martin Campbell   Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD release: 13 March 2007   Runtime: 144 minutes (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), Audio Tracks (Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound - English, French, Spanish), Becoming Bond, James Bond: For Real, Bond Girls Are Forever, Chris Cornell music video, Trailers

"Where is the dapper, the dandy, the debonair?" I sighed aloud at my first glance of the newest James Bond (Daniel Craig). Clearly, I was unimpressed. To be fair, Craig has had a tough job given the high standards in style set by a long line of uniquely suave predecessors.

Playing a spy who's been endowed with a playboy-hunk persona (courtesy Sean Connery) and an impish smile and charming wink a la Roger Moore, not to mention the intermittent limpid pools as the eyes of Timothy Dalton and the flashes of domesticity as wedding bells for George Lazenby, is not easy as it were. But THEN there was Pierce Brosnan. In him, Bond climbed new heights. Suave and stylish, all he had to do to get dressed for dinner after chasing goons in an armored tank was to flick off that speck of imaginary dust from his impeccably tailored and ironed suit. That, and tighten the knot of his tie.

There is this scene in The World Is Not Enough where, after a huge hold-up and staccato firing at a bankers', Brosnan saves himself in the nick of time by gliding down a multi-storied building using twine while bullets spray and glass shards rain around him. The touche one uttered was not at the escape but at the cool-as-a-cucumber demeanour, the cynical bending of mouth at his own triumph and at the gallant exit from scene while lightly touching his tie.

This chutzpah that was so typical of Bond is gone in the new avatar. In Casino Royale, Bond does an about turn. We first see him in Uganda, there to spy on the terrorist Mollaka and track down the terrorist cell. In the opening scenes, Bond fights like a boxer, runs like an athlete and wears clothes like your next-door neighbor. Chasing the money line, Bond lands in the Bahamas and learns about Le Chiffre, banker to the world's terrorist organizations. He also get the inside scoop on Le Chiffre's plans to raise money in a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro at the Casino Royale.

The fun begins as Bond is assigned the job of playing in this high-stakes game, under the watchful eye of another MI6 agent, the beautiful Vesper Lynd. Lurking in the background is CIA's Fleix Leiter. But all the help does not save our man from getting beat up like a common criminal. And he bleeds, too. As if all this were not enough, his shirt gets (scream!) torn and dirty.

And if you don't scream when Bond's shirt looks yucky, dirty and torn (instead of delicately ironed and deliciously silky), nothing can make you scream. Ever.

If it is bye-bye to stylish clothes and manners, can Bond's gizmos be far behind? So they, too, disappear. No Q, no fancy-shmancy cars, no guns that fire like turrets upon request, no rings that break glass walls. In short, no nothing.

The new Bond is also slow in the womanizing department. To top it all, he falls in "love". When was the last time Bond fell in love and wanted to settle down? It was 1968; no man had ever set foot on the moon, and the Soviet Union was the greatest success on Earth.

Obviously we've moved on since then, and Bond never falls for a woman. True, he enjoys their company, and they are an absolute necessity as accompaniments to his Dom Perignon '53, as absolute as the shaker for his vodka martini is - that is, until now.

Until 2006 and Casino Royale. Sore disappointment awaits anyone who was looking forward to any familiar "Bond" moment, even the moment when the new Bond would announce his preference for all matter shaken but not stirred. No, that last bit of succor is also denied. At that opportune moment when the bartender asks Bond whether he would like his martini shaken or stirred, our newbie says, "Does it look like I give I give a damn?"

For viewers, who don't give a damn, Casino Royale is rollicking fun. But for those who do, watching Bond as a common fighter, a common spy, a common man in love, in pain, hurting, falling and failing, is sacrilege!
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reviewed by Shampa Chatterjee
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