The several directors have included in the movie a number of send ups of the conventions of other James Bond films, some of which are enjoyable to watch. They quickly reveal, for instance, how the real Sir James is a clean living man who is proud of his celibate image, prefers tea to alcohol, and detests using gadgets. Elsewhere, they have incorporated a villain fond of pontificating about his insidious plans, that man's incredible underground hideout, and various outlandish contraptions, including an atomic bomb disguised as an aspirin, a deadly milk lorry, and a flying saucer. Some of these elements are fairly clever and a few are so outrageously ridiculous that they are amusing, but a number of them are more awkward than they are humorous.
Actually, the movie, which is divided into several distinct parts, each of which revolves around a different character, is absolutely crammed with bizarre details which, whether successfully realized or not, will probably retain the viewer's interest. Thus, in various scenes, Sir James watches his daughter perform an elaborate Thai inspired dance in front of a huge golden image of the Buddha; she visits a spy school whose crooked, distorted, grey rooms appear to have been inspired by the set designs employed in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; Sir James' inept nephew, Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen), escapes from a South American firing squad by leaping over a wall while making witty remarks; Evelyn Tremble plays baccarat against the evil Le Chiffre (Orson Welles), a SMERSH agent who hopes to raise money for that organization by gambling, but who repeatedly interrupts this game to perform magic tricks, and Sir James and Mata dash through a series of multicolored, psychedelic chambers and corridors in SMERSH headquarters, which are able to transform themselves whenever shown from a different angle.
Not surprisingly, given such diverse content, Casino Royale, although enlivened by these innumerable eccentric scenes, does not work particularly well as a whole. In fact, it is often incoherent. The plot is not so much loosely structured as it is just an excuse to throw in some comic sequence or another. The film, as a consequence, can grow tiresome as it progresses, especially when a given skit does not succeed. The movie's conclusion, for instance, is so overwrought, so cheesy, and so poorly executed that not only does it fail to add much to anything that came before it, but it is not even funny when viewed on its own.
I cannot say that Casino Royale is likely to impress many viewers, but it is entertaining throughout much of its duration. It may not be a good movie, but it does have many good parts.
Review by Keith Allen
© 2005 firstname.lastname@example.org Keith Allen. All rights reserved.