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#1: Casino Royale Script Re-examined

Posted on 2006-07-21 16:48:05 by WQ

As per Mac's request, I'm reposting my "Latest Casino
Royale Script Review" of almost 2 months ago for
further discussion. And so, in the immortal words of
Elliot Carver, "Let the mayhem begin."

Ok, now that I've read the whole CR script, this is what
I think. To begin with, it should be noted that what I
came across is a copy of the draft dated Dec. 13, 2005,
so it's quite possible, and even hoped, that a number of
desperately-needed changes have been made to it since
then.

First off, I've decided against disclosing any new major
spoilers. Any major spoilers I bring up here you already
know about from previous script reviews, i.e. Latino
Review, Stax, Merrick - that's if you've already read
those previous script reviews. If you didn't and still don't
want to know anything about this film, then stop reading
here and move on to another thread. This is not for the
faint of heart. And second off, what other spoilers are
included in this review are either minor ones that border
more on quibbling than spoiling anything, or are in
reference to major scenes that could be spoiled but
about which I talk about in very general terms without
trying to ruin a good or bad time for all. Of course, I've
exercised my own prudent judgement as to what's what,
but be forewarned nevertheless that you might end up
knowing more than you'd want to know about the film.

All right, let's take it from the start.

I like the way the first two kills are framed in the PCS.
And it seems that the toilet shot leading into the gun
barrel logo, which I've complained about as being tacky,
can be easily switched around to the other kill. In fact,
it would work better considering one of the last lines
Bond uses with the other kill. Problem is, trying to
make the line fit in so that it naturally leads into the
gun barrel logo follow-up or something like that. I know
it's doable without any extensive reshooting, just maybe
a new 5-second or so gun barrel logo sequence, but it
would require a bit more thought as to how to re-do it
than I've given it or am willing to give it at this point. I
guess that's where a skilled editor can make all the
difference. If EON reversed the kill scenes with that in
mind, the PCS would come off more wicked than tacky
and have more impact as a result, so it would just
make more creative sense for them to do it that way.
In all, the PCS will mercifully come in at about 5
minutes or under in length, none of this 15-20 minute
mindless extravaganzas
nonsense.

I still have issues about the whole construction site
chase sequence between Bond and the free runner
Bomber. It's exhaustively described in the script
and, by what little I've seen of it in teaser previews so
far, especially the last one, Campbell manages to
translate it perfectly onto the screen, and I'd probably
even have to say he captures it in such a way that
goes beyond what even the writers might've imagined.
The issues I have with the chase, though, is twofold
now. One is that Bond tells his partner that he needs
to get Bomber alive, but then he goes and blows him
away point blank anyway. Not only that, but
according to M, Bomber was just a nobody. So,
what then was that whole elaborate chase sequence
all about anyway? Stunt work, that's all. Nothing to
do with the plot, really. Because what Bond ended up
getting from the Bomber - and I could go into a 3-page
argument about that but won't - he could've done just
as easily without all that life-imperiling hyperactivity.
Speaking of which, this brings me to the second issue
I have about the chase. Now, I can take the free
runner bit, in fact, I'd probably get a kick out of
watching it, even if it's essentially an exercise in
pointless viewing. What I can't take of this chase are
a couple of seemingly ridiculous stunts in the course
of it, one involving the crane's cable line and the other
a scissor lift. As I see them in my mind by the
description of what goes on, we find ourselves
comfortably back to Pierce Brosnan shenanigans
terrain that has not much to do with a more realistic or
grounded Bond. If EON seriously wants a grounded
Bond as it claims, then just get rid of those two
stupid bits and they'll still get a pretty decent chase
sequence out of this. Seems EON just can't bring
itself away from cartoonifying Bond any chance it can
get.

Later, there's another pursuit at the Miami airport.
This one is partly interesting in that the first half of it
is played out in low-key fashion, just Bond following
Dimitrios around. Not much is said throughout the
first half of this 9-page spread, it's basically Bond
tailing Dimitrios and noting what he's doing. This
stretch of time is a perfect opportunity for David
Arnold to use some good background music, if he
has it in him, in much the same way that John Barry
did with his atmospheric and haunting scoring of
Bond investigating some suspicious goings-on at
Shrublands one night. The second half, though, goes
a bit berserk on the tarmac, but if handled right,
some nice bits of suspense and tension could be
injected throughout this whole sequence.

By the time we get into anything really recognizable
of Casino Royale the book, about 40 minutes of
screen time has already lapsed. This is where we
see Bond meet Vesper for the first time. I would've
preferred that it had not been on a train and that it
had been together with Mathis present as in the
book [if only for the dynamics of the three together
during Bond's first meeting with Vesper], but being
on the train, the meeting is one that works
nevertheless, largely due to the dialogue between
Bond and Vesper. This smacks of good
old-fashioned sparring conversation in the classic
cinematic sense, almost as if it were Bogart and
Bacall coolly going at each other, and I wouldn't
doubt if Paul Haggis was responsible for it because
I don't recall Purvis and Wade ever reaching this
level of sophistication in any Bond dialogue,
especially one that included women. What strikes
me here, though, is that I kept envisioning Diana
Rigg in the role of Vesper Lynd because of how
'English' the dialogue seems to read and how cool
Vesper appears, which makes me wonder if Eva
Green is actually right for this part now. Will her
French-Swiss accent or inflections convey the
same dry English wit and cynicism? There's also
the question of whether Green's softer look can
also project that certain iciness - or "ironical chill"
as defined by Fleming - needed for the Lynd character.
Although, Lynd does melt somewhat later on. Overall,
it's a good first meeting between the two that, if Craig
and Green manage to pull it off right, can create a
feeling of initial "reserved" sparks between them.

After Bond and Lynd arrive at Montenegro and some
time is spent there, which includes meeting up with
Rene Mathis, the casino action then kicks in. Across
about the next 30 pages of the script, nearly 25 of
those pages are spent in and around the casino, in the
card game with Le Chiffre and outside of it too, so I
imagine we'll get a good feeling of the high gambling
life, so to speak. However, I kind of like the script's
description of the casino as being "time-worn,"
suggesting that it may not be exactly just another
stereotypical glitter palace, but something with a bit
of character to it. Maybe it's meant to evoke
something of a casino in Fleming's time, who knows.

Now, somewhere around the middle or just past it in
all this casino stuff something happened that just
unexpectedly cracked me up. I won't say what it is,
but there's a line that Bond says that if Craig delivers
it just right, and I imagine he might very well be able
to considering the way it's meant to be delivered after
what happened to him just prior, it could possibly
define Craig as James Bond in his own right.
Whatever tension, uncertainty or reluctance in
audiences towards fully, or even in half-measure,
accepting Craig as Bond there may be in the first
half of the film just may all fade away in the second
half as a result of his mouthing that line. Literally,
he'll be breaking the ice with audiences when he
says it. At least that's my reading of the line, and it
still cracks me up when I think of it and how perfect
it is for him. And to add to it, there's a second line
that follows shortly after that's just as funny and can
perhaps be viewed as setting the tone for Craig's own
unique brand of Bond humour.

As for Le Chiffre, we meet him early on in the film
and sporadically throughout up to this point when he
begins to take up more screen time. But as written,
Le Chiffre is hugely disappointing and, as such, calls
into serious question as to whether Mads Mikkelsen
is right for the part. In fact, I don't even see Mikkelsen
as Le Chiffre in anything written of him here, I actually
see him more as one of Le Chiffre's henchmen, Kratt.
It's hard to imagine what more someone like
Mikkelsen can bring to a part that is so underwritten
for a major character. There's no real sense of
malevolence or threat or even human vileness in Le
Chiffre here, just somebody with an eye problem.
Consequently, not only does the torture scene
involving him and Bond fall apart, but it's completely
laughable. The dialogue is just awful and it beats me
how anybody involved with this scene can carry it off
with a straight face. Something definitely went askew
with the torture scene. Personally, I think Paul Haggis
left the room at that point and Purvis and Wade snuck
back in to muck things up because none of what
happens here reads polished or even well thought-out.
And in the book, wasn't the torture done at Le Chiffre's
villa? Not here. You definitely won't be seeing any
fancy Ken Adams-designed digs for the bad man.
What you will get is a more bargain basement setting
than anything else - literally. I don't know, all I can
say is that if EON doesn't do major surgery on this
part of the script, which stands out as one of the truly
badly crafted scenes in the film, then Bond's a goner
as a serious contender in any forseeable future after
this film.

Finally, we get to the big climax, and talk about
another huge disappointment. I won't say what
specifically happens, but just let it be known that
how the film does end is far removed from how the
book ends, and again, needlessly so. Just think of the
prolonged destruction of the underground installation
that takes place in GE and I think you'll get some
kind of an idea of what goes on at the end of CR. Not
only that, but Vesper's death is genuinely unsatisfying
and could hardly be called a tragic suicide, at least by
my definition. And not only that, but the immortal line
"The bitch is dead" may be in there, but it's not where
it should be or how it should be used and so is both
misplaced and rings hollow. I don't know what the
problem is with EON and these writers they hire, but I
read the script and even if I was to leave the whole
mess of an ending as is, I at least know exactly where
the line should be placed for the effect intended. The
same goes with the PCS. Why can't they see it
themselves? It's so screamingly obvious!

Okay, so overall impressions are as follows:

The script works best when it's not trying to be a
Pierce Brosnan film and all the flash and dash lunacy
that comes with that. They can have their little chases
and stunts, but just get rid of all the stupid bits.

Judi Dench still plays M, but she sounds like a more
foul-mouthed M this time around ["bastard," "ass,"
"Christ"]. Her being in the film only adds unnecessary
confusion not just timeline-wise but her own
character-wise.

And did I read that right about Mathis possibly being
a .... ? Yeah, I guess I did. Not in the book.

Eva Green as Vesper Lynd is beginning to give me
some doubts, especially with the way her character
is written. I think she needed to be played by an
English actress. And I'm also afraid that when
Vesper does begin to melt, so to speak, she does
so in a way that contradicts her earlier stronger nature.

Le Chiffre, as I've said, is a total write-off as any kind
of serious villain character for Bond to match wits
with, and as has been said of Bond and his villains:
007 is only as good as his villains. As there is no
villain here, does this then mean there is no 007 here
also?

There are also evident smatterings of scenes here
and there that are quite reminiscent of FRWL, GF
and TB, even Campbell's own previous GE.

Actually, with this script I can visualize Craig in the
Bond role, even in the stunt stuff, but that's
visualizing him in my mind under the best light. To
really see him go through the paces on screen from
start to finish may be another thing altogether and
it's still hard to say whether or not he'll be able to pull
it off successfully or even admirably. I suspect he'll
be able to get away with it quite well in some of the
scenes, but his inappropriate type of Bond face just
may get in the way of things in other scenes.

Could Brosnan have done this film? Written as it is,
I don't think so. He certainly wouldn't've been able to
do the free running bit at his age. Well, maybe, but
I don't think it would look as convincing. Besides,
there's clearly a bit of a different slant to Bond here
that would be at odds with Brosnan's previous
Bonds - as if being consistent or inconsistent really
matters much to EON.

A more important question is: could Clive Owen
have done this? Possibly, but somehow I'm not
convinced, even though I would've preferred to have
seen him instead of Craig in this film. I think part of
the reason is that the script was clearly written, or
more like
rewritten, to suit Craig's persona and that's probably
why Paul Haggis was brought in and neither Brosnan
nor Owen seem like they would fit into this one
comfortably.

One character that's not in this script but apparently
will pop up in the movie is Felix Leiter. I'm not sure
where he would fit into, or be forced into, in all of
what goes on here because I didn't miss his presence
in the least, so why even have him at all?

Is this the best Bond ever? No. Is it the worst? No.
It has its strengths, but its weaknesses have a
heavier weight to them, found in two of its three big
action segments, at the beginning and at the end,
and in a grossly underdeveloped main villain, along
with the mishandling of Vesper's death and "the bitch
is dead" line. These are crucial weaknesses, just
about everything else I can more or less live with.

Will Craig be loved and embraced by moviegoers as
the new Bond? No. Even if he does very well come
into his own as Bond halfway through the film via the
line I mentioned, I don't see a Bond here, especially
as he is written, that moviegoers will love. They
might like him, but they'll reserve any love for the
second or third Craig Bond, if he's lucky enough to
get that far and get any love at all.

Is this the next From Russia with Love? No. Next
what, then? Maybe GoldenEye, maybe Living
Daylights, maybe For Your Eyes Only. It at least
has the potential to be better than GE and maybe
those other two as well if they iron out all the kinks.

Best possible grading for the script while being as
optimistic as I can be: B-Worst possible grading for
the script while being as pessimistic as I can be: D+
Median grading, which could be understood as a
realistic grading for the script: C

Think of your own C-graded Bond films and that's
about what you can expect out of Casino Royale on
the basis of this draft of the script. But anything's
possible and with serious last-minute fix-ups in all
the right places this could end up being a solid B,
maybe even a B+, Bond. Doubt if it can get any
higher than that. And there you have it - a WQview
of the CR script.

This meets the WQ Stamp of Approval -
Under No Delusions

---------------------

But of course , I could be wrong about all this.

Report this message

#2: Re: Casino Royale Script Re-examined

Posted on 2006-07-21 16:51:18 by Mac

WQ wrote:
> As per Mac's request, I'm reposting my "Latest Casino
> Royale Script Review" of almost 2 months ago for
> further discussion. And so, in the immortal words of
> Elliot Carver, "Let the mayhem begin."

I meant to post it into the thread I responded to, rather
than start a new one!
--
--Mac

Report this message

#3: Re: Casino Royale Script Re-examined

Posted on 2006-07-21 16:58:28 by WQ

Mac wrote:
> WQ wrote:
> > As per Mac's request, I'm reposting my "Latest Casino
> > Royale Script Review" of almost 2 months ago for
> > further discussion. And so, in the immortal words of
> > Elliot Carver, "Let the mayhem begin."
>
> I meant to post it into the thread I responded to, rather
> than start a new one!

--- Oh, no! What do we do now!?

> --
> --Mac

Report this message

#4: Re: Casino Royale Script Re-examined SPOLILERS

Posted on 2006-07-21 17:27:44 by Mac

WQ wrote:


> One character that's not in this script but apparently will pop up in the
> movie is Felix Leiter. I'm not sure where he would fit into, or be forced
> into, in all of what goes on here because I didn't miss his presence in
the
> least, so why even have him at all?

It seems obvious the character of "Wolper" will be changed to Leiter, as
he fulfils the function Leiter does in the novel, and should be easy enough
to give the character another pass in the on-set re-write.

> I like the way the first two kills are framed in the PCS.
> And it seems that the toilet shot leading into the gun
> barrel logo, which I've complained about as being tacky,
> can be easily switched around to the other kill.

I don't have a problem with this at all. I rather like the
cross-cutting between the kills. Bond's last line is great.


> Later, there's another pursuit at the Miami airport.
> This one is partly interesting in that the first half of it
> is played out in low-key fashion, just Bond following
> Dimitrios around. Not much is said throughout the
> first half of this 9-page spread, it's basically Bond
> tailing Dimitrios and noting what he's doing. This
> stretch of time is a perfect opportunity for David
> Arnold to use some good background music, if he
> has it in him, in much the same way that John Barry
> did with his atmospheric and haunting scoring of
> Bond investigating some suspicious goings-on at
> Shrublands one night. The second half, though, goes
> a bit berserk on the tarmac, but if handled right,
> some nice bits of suspense and tension could be
> injected throughout this whole sequence

Bond following his suspect is great. Gives a real sense of
intrigue and mystery. Bond is forced to use his wits. The
action sequence reminds me a little too much of the
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK truck sequence, which itself
was ripped off by LICENCE TO KILL. It'll be interesting to
see how this is designed and shot and I imagine it will
not be how it is written here.


I agree with you as regards the dialogue in the showdown with Le Chiffre.
The "scratching my balls" is crude and unfunny and I am sure they've
taken another pass at that.

The dialogue on the whole has one or two Americanisms springing
from Bond's mouth (again) and there are scenes where it could be
punched up a bit.

On the other hand, I have to say the dry martini line, with the full
"...just a moment" response from Bond lifted from the novel is great,
and the follow-ups from the other players made me laugh out loud.
--
--Mac

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