Thursday, November 30, 2006

Casino Royale

Reflections on the latest Bond film: there is a strong subplot running all the way through it about identity and manhood. At the beginning, Bond wins his double-0 identity by killing 2 people, and for the rest of the film we see his character struggling with what kind of person he is to be. Is it the 'half monk, half killing machine' that M wants him to be, or is it a true man, stripped of his 'armour', which he seems to be becoming as he falls in love with the glamourous Vesper? It is at his most vulnerable that Bond seems to be most of a man: emotionally naked he becomes capable of loving, physically naked under torture he shows extreme bravery.

However, by the end of the film Bond has decided to trust no-one ('you've learnt one thing then', remarks M on the 500th mobile phone conversation of the film), and the invulnerable, armour-plated Bond is back. The making of 007 is completed with the final line, which is the first time we hear him utter the lines normally heard at the start of every Bond film 'the name's Bond, James Bond'. The film presents us not just with the usual multinational Bond locations, rich villains, chases, love interests and gripping drama, it also presents us with the question 'what does it mean to be a real man?' and the way that Bond comes to terms with that. Is manhood about love and bravery? Or is it about invulnerability?

Great to have a Bond film at last that makes you think. And some real acting. 8 out of 10, if you edit out the saggy bit 2/3 of the way through where nothing happens, and what does happen doesn't seem to make any sense.

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