Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #3

Re: Casino Royale, The Bourne Ultimatum

Reading your review of The Bourne Ultimatum made me wonder if you had yet seen the 2006 version of Casino Royale. The following paragraph, especially the last sentence, makes the entire franchise sound goofy, but the latest film makes sense of the character’s whole morality:

Unlike the cartoon antics characterizing most of the James Bond franchise, the Bourne films know that keeping the action more or less human-scaled makes it more thrilling than pumping it up with over-the-top stunt sequences that could only exist in a movie fantasyland (despite a few scenes that cross the line). They also know that real characters and emotions are more engaging than casually detached womanizing and interchangeable playmates.

I know you have never reviewed any of the Bond movies, but could you give your thoughts on that one, please?

The new Casino Royale is James Bond for grownups, for the post–Bourne era. It represents a radical break with the Bond films of the past. The Bond producers have been trying to revamp Bond for years, but they hadn’t been able to figure out how to do it. It’s possible that the Bourne films, with their grim violence and chilly realism, had a role in pointing the Bond franchise in a new direction.

As terrific a film as Casino Royale is, the new James Bond is as troubling a hero as the old, or more so. What was usually an implicit misogynistic, antisocial and amoral dimension in past films is now explicit, and no longer papered over with a wink bordering on farce.

To its credit, Casino Royale takes moral issues more seriously than previous films; troublingly, it no longer assumes traditional morality as an implicit foil for Bond’s outrageous behavior. The Bourne films are substantially an affirmation of human values over against the anti-humanistic world of expedience that created Jason Bourne; Casino Royale borders on celebrating Bond’s freedom from moral restraint.

Incidentally, did you ever notice how similar the two names are? JAmeS BONd, JASon BOurNe. Coincidence?

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Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)

B- | *** | -1| Adults

Ferocious car chases, rooftop pursuits, brutal combat sequences, elegantly choreographed stunts, a parade of exotic locations… Quantum does all this, with credible panache. Just don’t expect to care like you did in Casino.

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