Bond Pretitle Sequences: Casino Royale
Simon Pitt |
Sunday 7th July
I’m watching all of the Bond pre-credit teasers one after another.
Casino Royale was the first Bond film since 2002. Die Another Day, the 20th film/40th Anniversary special, had become increasingly ridiculous; the invisible car a step too far for almost everyone. Now, four years later, we had a new Bond and a reboot of the series.
From the first shot of the MGM ident, we know something different is happening. Leo the MGM lion, and Jenny, the Columbia Tristar woman, are both black and white. I always enjoy it when the style of the film seeps out into the idents. The Matrix did it very well with their green look, and Futurama alters the 20th Centry Fox logo to say 30th Century which made me smile when I first saw it.
Phil Meheux, the Director of Photography, says the black and white look was to surprise viewers and give a nod to The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.
“If you want to do something quite different and turn everyone around, do something in black-and-white! People are so used to seeing all these stunts and everything in colour, and we go right into a scene of black-and-white with very little stunt work.”
We open on a grim soviet-looking building in Prague. A car pulls up and a man with a funny Russian hat gets out. He steps into his office and sees that his safe is open. Turning, he finds Bond waiting. It’s our first shot of Daniel Craig. Controversially, Bond isn’t wearing a dinner jacket or tuxedo.
“M really doesn’t mind you earning a little money on the side, Dryden,” Bond says languidly, “she’d just prefer it if it wasn’t selling secrets.”
Dryden is calm, and takes a seat. “If M was so sure I was bent, she’d have sent a double-oh.” He says dismissively. Meanwhile he opens his drawer to reveal a handgun and an MP3 player. Maybe he plans to force Bond to listen to some podcasts at a higher than comfortable volume. Fiendish.
“Your file shows no kills,” he continues, “and it takes…”
“Two,” Bond says quickly. Clearly, all MI6 agents know very well what they have to do to get promoted. Maybe this is just me, but that doesn’t feel like very many kills. If you get a zero in front of your number for every kill, Bond must need an extra big ID card these days. I’d always thought that the coding system went from 001 – 009 and then 010, but if all it takes is two kills, then maybe we have 0010 and 0011 too.
The actual meaning of the “double-oh” status is debatable. In Goldfinger, we learnt that the section only has three agents at a time. And in Thunderball, they say the number of agents is fewer than 12. (I know those two things aren't mutually exclusive, but it's a bit weird to say both). The idea of it meaning you’ve carried out two kills is close the original though. In Fleming’s Casino Royale, Bond receives the designation 007 after he has killed twice in fulfilling assignments. Fleming’s Bond remarks the double-oh number means,
that you've had to kill a chap in cold blood in the course of some assignment
In Japan, a publicity leaflet for Casino Royale listed a different set of things you had to do to get 00 status. Albeit silly, they were at least demanding enough to stop every two-bit murderer becoming a double-oh:
- You don't fear death, and won't give into torture
- You have Olympic level shooting skills
- Even if you double-cross your own parents, you will never double-cross the organization
- You have knowledge that would surprise even a scholar, and a sense of humour that would make even a bad girl grin
- You have the sociability of a lamb, but remain a lone wolf
- You have the highest level of experience with alcohol, gambling, cars and food
- You can fall in love but you can never love.
Once Bond has stopped explaining what he needs to do to get onto the next rung of the career ladder, we jump cut to a bright toilet where Bond is fighting a ratty looking villain. They smash their way through the toilet cubical walls and break a couple of sinks. I never knew porcelain smashed so easily. The real winner in all of this mayhem is Armitage Shanks.
Back in the office, Dryden pulls out his gun.
“Shame,” he says, “we barely got to know each other.” His gun, predictably, is empty. A disappointed look crosses his face.
“I know where you keep your gun,” Bond says smugly. It’s always struck me as a weak comeback this. A long way from the Connery lines of “shocking,” and “I think he got the point”. Craig is a more brutish Bond. As I’ve said before many of his comebacks and one-liners are blunt, bordering on imbecilic. His subtlety and innuendo doesn’t have the charm of Connery or even Moore. But then this Bond isn’t about charm. He’s about drowning people in sinks.
Back in the toilets, Bond is clearly shocked by kill. As will be the cleaners when they find what state he’s left the toilet in. It’s not often you have a toilet event so massive it breaks down the cubicle walls and smashes two sinks. I’m reminded of another toilet murder. In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Austin is attacked in the toilet before managing to drown his attacker. “Who does Number 2 work for?” he demands.
“That’s right,” his cubicle neighbour offers encouragingly, “you show that turd who’s boss!”
The problem with thinking of this scene, is that it makes everything everyone says sound like an innuendo. When we flick back from the toilet scene to the office, Dryden asks: “Made you feel it, did he?”
“Well, you needn’t worry, the second is…” he continues, but before he can finish, Bond pulls out his gun and shoots him
“Yes, considerably.” He quips.
Although Dryden is thrown out of his chair and backwards, which, if I remember my physics correctly, would never actually happen, this is clearly a more realistic and gritty film. Just before Dryden is shot, we catch a glimpse of a photo of his family on his desk, hinting at the human cost of all of this
Back in the toilet, Bond bends to pick up his gun. Suddenly, Fischer wakes up and reaches for his gun. He’s still alive; the sink drowning was all a ploy. Bond turns and shoots, and in that instance the trademark gun barrel appears around him. Blood dribbles down the screen. We crash into the title sequence.
While I’ve complained several times about the new Daniel Craig films not beginning with the gun barrel sequence, this is a really nice bit of film work. The red of the blood is the first colour we’ve seen in the film. It even makes some sort of narrative sense. Bond isn’t 007 at this point; this has all been a prequel, happening before he was 007. Once Bond has carried out his two kills, he becomes 007, and that’s when we cut into the gun barrel. You could even argue that the gun barrel sequence that we see in all previous and subsequent Bond films is a flashback to Bond’s first kill. As if Bond is suffering from a type of traumatic stress disorder from the first time he had to kill.
It’s a great sequence this. Paced well, with a couple of good lines. The pacing is spot on too.
Originally, the title sequence was longer. “You aren’t a cricket fan by any chance, are you?” Dryden asks for seemingly no reason. The scene then cuts to Bond tracking the contact down at a cricket match. The contact spots him and Bond purses him through the crowd to the toilets.
Funnily enough, the scene is mirrored later on in Casino Royale. During the lead in to the free running scene, Bond is lurking in the crowd watching Mollaka, the bomb maker. Mollaka spots him and starts running away, and Bond has to push his way through the crowd in much the same way he does here.
It was a good cut to lose the cricket section. The pacing is wrong. I also don’t really understand why Dryden would ask about cricket. Although there are some nice moments, like the way Bond relentless and slowly pursues Fischer, it’s out of keeping with the rest of the film. The snap to the action is much more striking.
Name Rank and Number
I think he got the Point
- Dryden watches the lift numbers go up to 6, the camera cuts away before they move to 7.
Do all those vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men you've killed?
- Bond finishes Dryden’s sentence, saying he finds the second kill “considerably” easier than the first.
- He also says, “I know where you keep your gun, I suppose that’s something.” As a response to Dryden’s “Shame.” It’s less of a witty retort, and more just a statement of fact.
Listen Carefully 007
- We see Bond’s first two kills. He shoots Fischer (the drowning fails)
- Bond shoots Dryden too.
Perfect for relaxing after a hard day at the office
- We learn that you need two kills to become a double-oh agent
- Bond doesn’t use any gadgets, just his trusty Walter PPK.
SP will return...