Here’s The Trailer For Riders of Justice!


Riders of Justice is a Danish film, featuring Mads Mikkelsen as a soldier who comes home from Afghanistan after his ex-wife is killed in a train crash. When Mikkelsen receives information that the crash was not exactly an accident, he sets out for revenge. Though it may not be obvious from the plot description, Riders of Justice is apparently a dark comedy as well as being a thriller.

Riders of Justice proved to be a pretty popular film when it premiered in Denmark and was even nominated for several Danish film awards. (Again, you might not guess this strictly from reading a description of the film’s plot.) On May 21st, it’s finally going to be released here in the United States. I would suggest seeing the original now so that you can compare it to the inevitable English-language remake with Liam Neeson.

Here’s the trailer!

The Toronto Film Critics Association Honors Nomadland


They love Nomadland, even in Canada!

The Toronto Film Critics Association announced their picks for the best of 2020 yesterday and Noamdland picked up another best picture prize.  Chloe Zhao and Frances McDormand were also, once again, honored.  Daniel Kaluuya, who has been coming on strong in recent days, picked up Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah, defeating former front runners Paul Raci and Leslie Odom Jr.

Here are the winners from Toronto:

Best Film
Winner: ​​Nomadland
Runners Up: First Cow & Minari

Best Director
Winner: ​Chloe Zhao – Nomadland
Runners Up: Lee Isaac Chung – Minari & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow

Best Screenplay
Winner: ​Minari
Runners Up: Nomadland & Sound of Metal

Best Actress
Winner: ​Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Runners Up: Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom & Sidney Flanigan – Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Best Actor
Winner: ​Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Runners Up: Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom & Mads Mikkelsen – Another Round

Best First Feature
Winner: ​The Forty-Year-Old-Version
Runners Up: The Father & Promising Young Woman

Best Documentary
Winner: ​Collective
Runners Up: Crip Camp, David Byrne’s American Utopia & Time

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: ​Bacurau
Runners Up: Another Round & Beanpole

Best Animated Feature
Winner: ​Wolfwalkers
Runners Up: Soul & The Willoughbys

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Runners Up: Youn Yuh-jung – Minari & Olivia Colman – The Father

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Daniel Kaluuya – Judas And The Black Messiah
Runners Up: Paul Raci – Sound of Metal & Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami

Here Are The Nominees of the 2020 Indiana Film Journalists Assosciation!


Bad Education

The Indiana Film Journalists Association (IJA) has announced their nominees for the best of 2020!  They’ll be announcing the winners on December 21st!

What I like about these nominations is that there’s a lot of them.  2020 may have been a difficult year for many but there were a lot of good films released and it does seem kind of silly (as it does every year) to limit things to some sort of arbitrary number.  Why only nominate 10 films when you could nominate 20 or 30?  Many of the nominees below will appear on my own personal best lists in January.

The other thing that I like about these nominees is that the include films like Bad Education and Mangrove.  There’s some debate as to whether or not these films should be considered Oscar eligible.  I feel that they should be so it’s nice to see that the folks in Indiana agree with me!

Here are the nominees:

BEST FILM
Da 5 Bloods
Another Round
The Assistant
Athlete A
Bad Education
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Dick Johnson is Dead
Emma.
The Father
First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
The Nest
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
One Night in Miami
Palm Springs
The Personal History of David Copperfield
Possessor
Promising Young Woman
Small Axe: Mangrove
Song Without a Name
Soul
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The Twentieth Century
The Vast of Night

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Onward
Soul
Wolfwalkers

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
76 Days
Another Round
Bacurau
Beanpole
La Dosis
Song Without a Name

BEST DOCUMENTARY
76 Days
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Athlete A
Boys State
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Desert One
Dick Johnson is Dead
Disclosure
John Lewis: Good Trouble
The Last Out
Miss Americana
MLK/FBI
Time
Totally Under Control
Welcome to Chechnya

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Brandon Cronenberg – Possessor
Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers – Soul
Sean Durkin – The Nest
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Kitty Green – The Assistant
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
James Montague and Craig W. Sanger – The Vast of Night
Matthew Rankin – The Twentieth Century
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Alice Wu – The Half of It

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller – The Father
Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Mike Makowsky – Bad Education
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST DIRECTOR
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Brandon Cronenberg – Possessor
Pete Docter – Soul
Sean Durkin – The Nest
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Kitty Green – The Assistant
Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Kirsten Johnson – Dick Johnson is Dead
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Regina King – One Night in Miami
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Melina Léon – Song Without a Name
Steve McQueen – Small Axe: Mangrove
Matthew Rankin – The Twentieth Century
Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
George C. Wolfe – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Alice Wu – The Half of It
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland

BEST ACTRESS
Haley Bennett – Swallow
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Carrie Coon – The Nest
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sidney Flanigin – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Julia Garner – The Assistant
Han Ye-ri – Minari
Leah Lewis – The Half of It
Rachel McAdams – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Pamela Mendoza – Song Without a Name
Cristin Milioti – Palm Springs
Elisabeth Moss – The Invisible Man
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
Aubrey Plaza – Black Bear
Margot Robbie – BIrds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Anya Taylor-Joy – Emma.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jane Adams – She Dies Tomorrow
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Toni Collette – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Olivia Colman – The Father
Olivia Cooke – Sound of Metal
Allison Janney – Bad Education
Margo Martindale – Blow the Man Down
Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Youn Yuh-jung – Minari

BEST ACTOR
Christopher Abbott – Possessor
Ben Affleck – The Way Back
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Kingsley Ben-Adir – One Night in Miami
Paul Bettany – Uncle Frank
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Eli Goree – One Night in Miami
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Hugh Jackman – Bad Education
Jude Law – The Nest
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Mads Mikkelsen – Another Round
Jesse Plemons – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Eddie Redmayne – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Steven Yeun – Minari

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods
Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Bill Burr – The King of Staten Island
Peter Capaldi – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Aldis Hodge – One Night in Miami
Caleb Landry Jones – The Outpost
Alan Kim – Minari
Frank Langella – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Orion Lee – First Cow
Ewan McGregor – BIrds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Bill Murray – On the Rocks
Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
J.K. Simmons – Palm Springs
Dan Stevens – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
David Strathairn – Nomadland
David Thewlis – I’m Thinking of Ending Things

BEST VOCAL / MOTION CAPTURE PERFORMANCE
Sean Bean – Wolfwalkers
Tina Fey – Soul
Jamie Foxx – Soul
Oliver Platt – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Donald Ray Pollock – The Devil All the Time
Ben Schwartz – Sonic the Hedgehog

BEST ENSEMBLE ACTING
Da 5 Bloods
Another Round
The Devil All the Time
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
The King of Staten Island
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Minari
One Night in Miami
The Personal History of David Copperfield
She Dies Tomorrow
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Uncle Frank

BEST MUSICAL SCORE
Erick Alexander and Jared Bulmer – The Vast of Night
Terence Blanchard – One Night in Miami
Ludovico Einaudi – Nomadland
Ludwig Göransson – Tenet
Emile Mosseri – Minari
Richard Reed Parry – The Nest
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Soul
William Tyler – First Cow
Jay Wadley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer – Emma.
Benjamin Wallfisch – The Invisible Man
Jim Williams – Possessor

BREAKOUT OF THE YEAR
Maria Bakalova (actress) – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Max Barbakow (director) – Palm Springs
Emerald Fennell (writer / director) – Promising Young Woman
Sidney Flanigin (actress) – Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Alan Kim (actor) – Minari
Orion Lee (actor) – First Cow
Leah Lewis (actress) – The Half of It
Darius Marder (writer / director) – Sound of Metal
Andrew Patterson (director) – The Vast of Night
Tayarisha Poe (writer / director) – Selah and the Spades
Kemp Powers – co-writer / co-director for Soul and writer for One Night in Miami
Matthew Rankin (writer / director) – The Twentieth Century
Andy Siara (writer) – Palm Springs
Autumn de Wilde (director) – Emma.

HOOSIER AWARD
Athlete A
Eliza Hittman, writer / director of Never Rarely Sometimes Always and graduate of Indiana University

ORIGINAL VISION AWARD
After Midnight
Assassin 33 A.D.
Dick Johnson is Dead
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Possessor
Promising Young Woman
She Dies Tomorrow
The Twentieth Century
The Vast of Night
Vivarium

Mangrove

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Makes Its Final Approach



We take a brief break from our current regular scheduled horror programming to bring in the final official trailer for the latest entry in that little space opera called Star Wars.

With just two months left before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story splashes down into theaters everywhere, the film doesn’t seem to be gathering the sort of massive hype and anticipation that last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens had leading up to its release.

Rogue One is still predicted to be the biggest film of the year. Yet, the feeling that permeates each trailer release have been one of guarded anticipation.

This latest and final full trailer oils to remedy that situation.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set for a December 16, 2016 release just in time for the holidays.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Official Trailer Finally Arrives


Rogue One

The Rogue One official trailer finally came out after weeks of fans waiting for it since last month’s Star Wars celebration over in London.

At first, people thought the trailer would be released during the celebration, but that didn’t come to pass. Then San Diego Comic-Con came and went and still no official trailer. We already seen the teaser, the sizzle reel from London celebration and even a tv spot that aired in the last week or so. Yet, there was still no full trailer. Fans were waiting with extreme patience.

Once news came down that the first official trailer will show during the Olympics the guessing game began on which day it will be. When it was confirmed that it was to be tonight people worldwide began to wait for the trailer to premiere. And waited during each Olympic event. And waited some more. I, myself, decided I needed a nap and left orders to be awoken when it finally did show.

Well, it did show just an hour into my nap and despite being groggy from being woken up that first image of the desert planet with Forest Whitaker and Felicity Jones conversing got my full attention. The wait was long, but it was well worth it and now the wait for the film’s premiere begins.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set for a December 16, 2016 release date.

Doctor Strange Trailer Arrives At SDCC 2016


Doctor Strange

San Diego Comic-Con for the past decade has always been a major mainstay for Marvel Studios when it comes to releasing their latest news and trailer for their upcoming films. There has been rumors the last couple years that Marvel Studios may skip Comic-Con and it’s venerable Hall H altogether in the near-future. Marvel Studios being owned by Disney means they have access to their parent company’s own D23 event. There’s even talk of just having a yearly Marvel Con to showcase everything Marvel.

Until that occurs many who attend San Diego Comic-Con will stand hours (some even days) to be able to get into Hall H and be the first to see what Marvel Studios has up it’s sleeves. This year we get the latest trailer on their biggest gamble to date: Doctor Strange.

A gamble in that it will delve deeply into the one aspect of the Marvel Universe it has so far avoided: magic.

One cannot make a film about Doctor Strange and not portray the magic and sorcery, the otherworldly dimensions and demons, spells and illusions. This is the bread and butter of the Sorcerer Supreme and if this latest trailer is any indication then filmmaker Scott Derrickson may have just broken the code in how to integrate this aspect of the Marvel Universe into the grounded, albeit hyper-reality, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Doctor Strange arrives this November 4, 2016.

Doctor Strange Trailer Makes It’s First Visit


Doctor Strange

This coming November sees the arrival of not just another new character from the Marvel Comics pages onto the big-screen, but the parting of the curtains to give the Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s first glimpse at the mystical and magical.

The MCU has been mostly about advanced technology, techno-thrillers and a corner or two of the cosmic, but Feige and company has never truly explored the esoteric and occult side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the release of tonight’s teaser trailer for Doctor Strange we will finally get a glimpse into this unseen corner of the MCU.

Doctor Strange is set for a November 4, 2016 release date.

Rogue One Wakes Up the Internet with Its First Trailer


Rogue One

The world has been dying to see the first teaser trailer for the next Star Wars. The most recent one came out at the end of last year and already people wondering why this next one hasn’t already come out.

Well, it will come out this December when the public is flush with money to spend on the holidays (though we all know it’s probably to buy Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tickets as holiday gifts for themselves).

This teaser trailer shows us stuff that happened between Episode 3 and Episode 4. It also focuses on a new hero character which has raised the ire of the most vocal minority (very tiny) of the Star Wars fandom. We’re introduced to Jyn Erso played by English-actress Felicity Jones who we learn is not just a criminal of sorts, but one ready with a smartass quip.

Star Wars has another woman in the lead role! First it was Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Then just the last couple weeks, one of the few redeeming things about Batman v. Superman was the appearance of Wonder Woman. We can’t forget how last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road was being called Mad Max Furiosa Road.

The MRA mouthbreaters and Mary Sue labelers have had it up to their neckbeards of having their beloved franchises being invaded by the opposite sex. They’re already calling for boycotts and petitions to get Rogue One from being released as is. They want their fictional heroes to return to the good ol’ days of privileged, white men who rescued and kissed damsels (even if they to be their sister) in distress.

Their shouts and cries of impotent rage has been drowned out by the massive majority of even more vocal supporters of another female heroine in a fictional universe which dares to posit that dangerous question: can women be heroes? It looks like after Rey and now, with this upcoming film’s Jyn Erso the answer may be a collective and very loud “Yes, Yes, Yes.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set for a December 16, 2016 release date or be on hold indefinitely if the MRA neckbeard mouthbreaters get their court injuction to delay its release.

Trash TV Guru : “Hannibal,” Episode 1 : “Aperitif”


hannibal_nbc

Okay, here’s the deal — if you follow my “writing” (am I being too generous already?) either here on TTSL, on my own site,  http://trashfilmguru.wordpress.com, or on other places where my “byline” (again with the generosity!) occasionally appears such as dailygrindhouse.com, geekyuniverse.com, or what have you, it’s probably become apparent to you by this point that I don’t talk TV that much. Movies? Sure, all the time. Comics? Yeah, what the hell, I opine on those plenty, as well. But TV? This is, to my knowledge, a first. A new frontier. A new era. A new beginning. A bold, vast, wide-open, new horizon.

Okay, now I know I’m being far too generous. And grandiose. So I’ll cut it the fuck out right now.

Seriously, though, there’s a reason I don’t talk TV that much — I don’t watch TV that much. Alright, fair enough — I more or less never miss a Wolves or Wild game, so what I mean to say is that I don’t watch series TV that much. It’s just not my bag. Even with DVR and cable on demand, both of which negate the need to be in front of your screen at a set time every week,  it’s fair to say that continuing, serialized television just ain’t my thang for the most part. I’m a die-hard Doctor Who fan and have been since age, I dunno, six or seven, but my absolute, long-standing love for that show precludes me from saying what I really think about its current, depressing, lowest-common-denominator iteration too publicly. And I watch The Walking Dead and Bates Motel but Arleigh and Lisa Marie, respectively, have got those bases covered around these parts already. I’d been kind of wanting to dip my toes into the metaphorical waters of TV criticism on this site for awhile now, but there just didn’t seem much to be much point.

Then, I heard that the network suits at NBC had become either adventurous or desperate enough to green-light a series based around Hannibal Lecter, and furthermore that said new series was actually good, so I figured here’s my chance. Fair enough, the new show, simply (and unimaginatively) called Hannibal, shared a title with Ridley Scott’s genuinely atrocious entry into the Lecter cinematic canon, but why hold that against it? Especially since the territory it was going to mine, the backstory set before both the very best (Michael Mann’s Manhunter) and very worst (Brett Rattner’s Red Dragon) of the cannibal shrink’s celluloid exploits, seemed ripe for mining. Plus, rumor had it that the first episode was going to be directed by David Slade, who gave us 30 Days Of Night  and Hard Candy, two films I absolutely loved (we won’t hold the Twilight flick he did against him).

So, I figured, here it was — a show I could get in on the ground floor of and review every week for the edification of you, dear Through The Shattered Lens reader, whoever you are.

hannibal2

Confession time — I still missed the first episode anyway, despite my best intentions. The Wild were playing that night, so sue me. But I dutifully watched it on Comcast On Demand the next evening, and went in with pretty high hopes. It seemed that pretty much everyone liked this thing, from the most cynical corners of the internet to the most pompous and self-important to the most populist to, frankly, the dumbest (Entertainment Weekly, for instance, raved about it). Yup, everybody seemed to be in agreement — TV is bad bad for you, except for Hannibal.

So, yeah — maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I just don’t “get” how series TV works. Maybe I stupidly wanted it to look and feel like Manhunter on, probably, a fraction of that film’s budget. And maybe — just maybe — I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, but I thought that episode one of Hannibal, titled (again rather unimaginatively) “Aperitif,” sucked.

The setup, developed/dumbed down for television by series semi-creator Bryan Fuller (Thomas Harris should still get the lion’s share of the credit in my book) probably should work (and maybe on paper it does) — FBI special agent Will Graham, here played by Hugh Dancy (he of the bloodied glasses in the photo below) is paired with noted psychoanalyst Dr. Hannibal Lecter , here played by Mads Mikkelsen (he of the refined table manners pictured above) by Bureau big-shot Jack Crawford, here played by Laurence Fishburne (he  of the admittedly rather uptight appearance pictured far below). Yup, Graham and Lecter are, for all intents and purposes, partners.

Cool, right? And let’s just for the time being leave aside the fact that Dancy is no William Petersen circa the mid-1980s and that Mikkelsen is no Bryan Cox (still the best screen Lecter, I don’t care what anybody says) or Anthony Hopkins. This is TV, we gotta set our sights lower. But even making allowances for all of that, this was still a thoroughly lifeless, clinical, dull affair. Mikkelsen’s Lecter is closer to the version seen (by those who actually did bother to see it) in Hannibal Rising, which I guess makes sense given that he’s still in the early stages of his cannibalistic career here, and by that I don’t just mean that his vaguely eastern European accent is still present. I mean he’s not the older, accomplished, seen-it-and-done-it-all super-genius criminal of the Cox and Hopkins variety — he’s still, for lack of a better way of putting it, nothing but a pompous ass who happens to eat people. Which I guess makes him more interesting than a pompous ass who doesn’t eat people, but only marginally so.

Hannibal - Season 1

As far as Dancy’s interpretation of Graham goes, he probably does a better job in the role than Ed Norton did in Red Dragon, but the ultra-trendy twists Fuller gives the character — placing him somewhere in the autistic disorder spectrum, making him single so he can apparently spark up a love interest a few episodes down the line with co-star Caroline Dhavernas — are both unnecessary and, frankly, kinda patronizing. A lot of people seem to love the the way that this show has Graham mentally “re-live” the murders he’s investigating (all of which in this opening episode supposedly take place in my home state of Minnesota — probably by way of either rural California or Vancouver) by re-casting himself in the role of the killer, but I found it to be pretty gimmicky, to be honest, and already thoroughly predictable by the second time the conceit was employed.  I’ll take William Petersen’s anguished-and-angry version of the character from Manhunter any day of the week, even if I did promise not to hold the series to the same standards as the films.

And, since I opened that door anyway — one thing that both Michael Mann and Jonathan Demme understood about Hannibal Lecter that, frankly and depressingly, no one else has seemed to be able to figure out is that, underneath his civilized and erudite trappings, this is essentially a blackly comic character.  The greatest flaw of Hannibal the TV series — even greater than the lame-as-hell, wrapped-up-way-too-quickly-and-conveniently murder “mystery” here in episode one — is  its insistence on continuing the humorless, morose trend previously established by Ridley Scott, Brett Rattner, and whoever the hell it was who directed Hannibal Rising. Fuller and Slade just plain don’t seem to get this guy at anything beyond the most surface level, and that’s a shame, because apparently we’re in for 12 more weeks of this shallow, thoroughly unsatisfying interpretation of the character.

Serie 'CSI'

Or, should I say, you are. My days as an armchair TV critic are over (at least for now). Hannibal had a few good things going for it, I suppose — particularly Laurence Fishburne’s spot-on take on Jack Crawford and the nifty little scene where Lecter feeds human meat to Graham (unbeknownst to him, of course) — but not enough to get me to tune in for more.  I’m going back to what I know best. CSI with a cannibal just doesn’t do it for me. Now, Cannibal Holocaust on the other hand —

James Bond Review: Casino Royale


Welcome, one and all! Leading up to the North American release of the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, The Shattered Lens has taken on the task of reviewing each and every one of the twenty two James Bond films that precede it. Today’s is the penultimate review, Casino Royale, the first film of the series to star current-iteration Bond Daniel Craig. It serves as a reboot of the James Bond character, looking back to the beginning of his career, and entirely unconnected from all of the previous films in the series. The only returning actor is Dame Judi Dench, who reprises her role as M, in a more maternal overseer role looking out for a young Bond, despite his rash actions potentially causing trouble for MI6.

Our cold open this time has a black and white Bond confronting a crooked MI6 section chief – one who has been selling secrets to make money on the side. Bond kills both the section chief and his contact, which is enough to earn him his 00-status. The freshly minted 007 heads to Madagascar in pursuit of an international bomb maker. He attempts to find a way to apprehend the bomb maker alive, but is made, and is forced to pursue this man across the city. Bond eventually corners the bomb maker in an embassy building and kills him, blowing up part of the wall, and effecting his escape.

Back in England, M chides Bond for his itchy trigger finger, pointing out that while the world has one less small-time terrorist, they had hoped to get information which would let them fight international terrorism on the organisational level. Bond seems suitably chastened, but M goes further, asserting that she promoted Bond too early, that he is reckless, and a danger. Bond coldly replies that, since the 00-agent’s life is not typically a long one, she will not have to live with her mistake for long.

That’s the sort of Bond that we’re dealing with under the handling of Daniel Craig. While the character is still capable of being charming, he’s a very far cry from Sean Connery’s easy smile and one liners, or Pierce Brosnan’s especially terrible puns. This is sort of the crux of the movie; what controversy exists surrounding its qualities is heavily tied into how you respond to this new take on James Bond. Like all things 2000s, our hero is much grittier than before. Absent is all of Q’s high tech wizardry, and as I stated before, we are not even dealing with a seasoned killer in James Bond, but rather a freshly minted 00 agent. As a result of all these factors, this film has a distinctly different feel from every Bond produced before it. If you like the changes, everything is cool. If you don’t, you may still find yourself appreciating Casino Royale, which has a relatively simple plot, but spends quite a bit of effort on setting up and establishing its characters, including this new James Bond, for the audience.

The main plot of Casino Royale revolves around a high-stakes Texas Hold ‘Em tournament held at the titular casino, located in Montenegro. James Bond is assigned to win the tournament which is being staged by terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) to recoup the terrible losses he suffered when he used the money of his clients to short sell stock, predicting that a terrorist strike which he himself had planned would send prices into free fall. M hopes that by pushing Le Chiffre to the point of desperation, they can force him to cut a deal with MI6 – sanctuary in exchange for everything he knows about terrorists around the world. Bond is assisted in his goal by fellow MI6 agent Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), this iteration’s Bond girl, an agent from HM Treasury, who is assigned to manage Bond’s $10M buy-in, and to provide him with a $5M re-buy if she believes it would be a good investment. However, since a failure on Bond’s part would mean that Her Majesty’s Treasury was directly funding international terrorism, there is incentive to be cautious.

It takes us nearly an hour to begin to engage in the meat of the film, at the titular Casino Royale. Or, at least, this should be the meat of the film. However, the structure of Casino Royale is a little bit off. It feels like it has enough action, but it doesn’t feel properly paced, with the front half of the film (really just a series of subplots to get us to Montenegro) feels like classic “action Bond”. The scenes in the Casino could have been pulled (well, if Daniel Craig could smile, at any rate) from any other Bond film, as his history is littered with a rich litany of casino sequences. Before and after the casino sequences, however, are framing bits that involve idyllic locations, and if I may be so bold, it doesn’t exactly zoom along. The spacing between the casino sequences and the finale, in particular, made the final act feel very tacked on and a little out of place, even as deliberately intended setup for Quantum of Solace. This can also be off-putting, as it feels like there are two different movies going on here.

For the most part though, I think Casino Royale works. If you can live with a grimmer, grittier, low-talking James Bond, you may really appreciate this low-tech return to basics for our favourite 00-agent.

Tomorrow you’ll get a healthy dose of Quantum of Solace, but before I sign off, let me leave you with the theme from Casino Royale, one of the cooler James Bond themes in the franchise, performed by Chris Cornell.