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THE BIG GAMBLE

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Published on Sun, Nov 19, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE BIG GAMBLE

By JOHN GRAFMAN

This is not your father's James Bond movie. If the character wasn't named Bond, I might confuse this as not being the latest installment of the James Bond franchise.

This movie is a gamble. On paper, the differences are obvious. Casino Royale doesn't start off with a jaw dropping scene, it has an unusual opening title and the credits are lacking the usual semi-nude females, Q and a dazzling array of gadgets have gone MIA, and to top it off - we have a blonde Bond! While all of these changes do create a new feel to the film that certainly distances this from prior efforts, they are not the most problematic.

A lack of some four-wheel excitement is what tugs this down a notch or two in the hearts of die-hards. What is 007 without high-speed driving? To be fair, there actually is one scene, but not enough to placate our sensibilities. Indeed, there are some great cars in Casino Royale - from the new Aston Martin DBS, to the always-classic DB5. There also is the new Ford Mondeo yet to be released. And there are other cool transports, but they are not flaunted on screen to their full capacity. All of this reminds me of cameo rolls rather than supporting rolls. All of the toys make 007, well, 007.

Don't get the wrong idea. The directors, producers and writers haven't lost their minds. As a matter of fact, we have seen a similar change in the auto industry, which also has raised a few eyebrows, and revenues for that matter. When Chris Bangle and the team at BMW set out to create new versions of the tried-and-true 5 and 7 Series, BMW was hit with a ton of criticism.

However, how long can one continue to just refresh a car before it becomes stale? BMW, like the caretakers of the Bond franchise, understood that you either are ahead of the curve, or behind it. Picking the time and manner of change on your terms is far better than having it dictated to you. Or while having your pants around your ankles.

The few glimpses of the upcoming DBS are nearly worth the price of a ticket all by itself. Aston Martin's bevy of sports cars capture the magic of the word exotic, and this upcoming coupe is par for the course. While this is just a movie, the DBS soars. Will this do the same in the flesh? We will save any comments until we get some seat time.

This release does still offer some thrilling action and locations, spanning the Czech Republic, the Bahamas, Italy and England. It's enough to cause plenty to revise their "places to go before I die" list. The talent does a convincing job in the style and manner we expect in the 21 st installment of James Bond. Daniel Craig is definitely his own man. He doesn't have the classic manner of Sean Connery or the smart-alecky comments and grin of Roger Moore. Craig has a gritty, cold, and hard behavior that hasn't been seen before. The movie is set at the beginning of his career as an agent and gives us some insight as to how he became the double-0 agent we all know and love.

Mads Mikkelsen plays the baddie in this movie. The character, Le Chiffre (the Cipher) is a quirky sort that does follow in the footsteps of prior villains. His passion is risk taking both in his nefarious affairs as well as at cards. He is an international banker, and coincidentally a money launderer to terrorist organizations. Looking back, many of the villains are far more bent on world destruction. Poor Le Chiffre just want to add a few dollars to his bank account.

The female lead is played by Eva Green in the role of Vesper. Jill doesn't titillate as in the Roger Moore era, she does however fit the part of a Treasury agent to a tee.

As this new chapter in the character's development unfolds, we look forward to more episodes of James Bond. And maybe, just maybe, our cries for more cars and more car chases will be heard. And if they just happen to go underwater or fly in the sky, that's an added bonus!

For more information go to Casino Royale

Casino Royale (PG-13)

James Bond: Daniel Craig Vesper Lynd: Eva Green Le Chiffre: Mads Mikkelsen M: Judi Dench Felix Leiter: Jeffrey Wright Mathis: Giancarlo Giannini

Director: Matin Campbell Screenplay: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis Based on the novel by Ian Flemming Producers: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli Executive Producers: Anthony Waye, Callum McDougall

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