Of Human Bondage

Anthony Lane in The New Yorker:

Casinoroyalewallpaper1Who said this: “It is interesting for me to see this new Bond. Englishmen are so odd. They are like a nest of Chinese boxes. It takes a very long time to get to the center of them. When one gets there the result is unrewarding, but the process is instructive and entertaining.” The speaker is Mathis, a kindly French liaison officer in “Casino Royale,” Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, published in 1953. More than half a century later, we are back with “Casino Royale,” No. 21 in the roster of official Bond films, and we are back with Mathis. As played by Giancarlo Giannini, who was recently seen having his intestines removed in “Hannibal,” he is pouchy, affable, and dangerously wise, and his presence hints that this new adventure will not be an occasion for silliness: no calendar girls, no blundering boffins, no giants with dentures of steel. The same goes for hardware, with rockets and gadgets alike being trimmed to the minimum. It is true that Bond keeps a defibrillator in the glove compartment of his Aston Martin, but, given the cholesterol levels of the kind of people who drive Aston Martins, a heart-starter presumably comes standard, like a wheel jack. Whether Bond has a heart worth starting is another matter.

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