Casino Royale (12A)
Requiem (12A)

The man with the golden grunt

Some fans of the 007 franchise are outraged by the casting of Daniel Craig: to think that Bond could be blond! That's not the half of it - he's also in black and white, partly at least. The film starts with a flashback to James Bond's first ever killing, a very brusque and thuggish execution in a toilet. By the time the blood trickles down that famous gun-barrel signature image, you realise this time that the makers aren't kidding: this is going to be the most sanguinary Bond film yet.

Casino Royale feels less like a film proper than like an extremely hard-headed rebranding exercise: 007 dusted down and muscled up for an age that expects a bit less middle-aged suavity, a bit more graphic bone-crunching. The order of the day is a back-to-basics muscularity; out with the increasingly glib hi-tech, in with Olympic-level athletic action, as in the genuinely head-spinning free-running routine that is the first big action sequence.

The familiar Bond character trademarks are systematically flouted, rather than smugly ironised. Craig's Bond makes several egregious gaffes, rashly loses his heart, and is so lacking in silver-tongued wit that his love interest (Eva Green) actually smirks at the clumsiness of his lines. But that's because he's not really James Bond yet: based on the first (and if I remember correctly, the dullest) of Ian Fleming's novels, this film is effectively a superhero "origin" story, starting with Bond winning his "double-0" status, and ending with him earning the right to use his time-honoured catchphrase.

Craig is certainly a more muscular and menacing Bond than we're used to - the first 007 who looks as if he'd headbutt you for spilling his Martini. After he's administered that beating and another cold-blooded assassination at the start, the credit sequence ends by isolating Craig's chilly blue stare and you think, Christ, they've actually gone ahead and made 007 a stone-cold psycho. He softens up in the course of the film, but where previous Bonds were lean and foxy, Craig is chunky and wolfish, a sullen and forbidding juggernaut. When he finally puts on a tux, you expect him to station himself at the casino door and tell punters, "Sorry pal, no trainers." It's significant that the only time he gets to deliver a really sharp one-liner is when his balls are being whipped with a knotted rope.

Uncharacteristically brutish for a Bond film, Casino Royale is being touted as a return to the original spirit of Fleming (that last torture scene is straight from the novel), but it feels just as much like a homage to Mickey Spillane. There's also an unreconstructed racism that comes as a shock - an early action sequence has Bond's indestructible white male cutting a swathe through armies of helpless African opponents. That's just before a shot in which a group of little black children grin in awe at a beautiful white lady on a beautiful white horse.

No-nonsense to a fault, Casino Royale mercilessly clears out all the excess gimmickry and facetiousness - it's a severe and ultimately joyless spring-clean of a film. The best things about it are the collapse of a Venetian palazzo at the end, and Eva Green's Vesper Lynd, with her cool, cerebral trans-Manche delivery and geometric Klimt features. But the dialogue is pure lead, and I suspect Crash writer Paul Haggis (credited with Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) is responsible for the creeping tone of psychobabble: Bond is forever being told off about his "ego", a word that's as alien to the 007 universe as if he went around shooting villains because he needed closure.

In the early Seventies, around the time Roger Moore was doing his own rebranding on Bond, a young German woman called Anneliese Michel was exorcised by her parents. The incident, and her resulting death, inspired last year's US hit The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a gruesome apologia for Christian fundamentalist anti-rationalism under cover of a supernatural thriller. Now young German director Hans-Christian Schmid offers a sane, detached and touching realist treatment of the theme in Requiem, with Sandra Hüller as a young student with epilepsy who attempts to escape her stifling Catholic home, only for superstitious panic to pull her back in. It's a small but bitterly intense story, told with keen sensitivity and sober tenderness, and it rightly won Hüller the Best Actress prize in Berlin this year. A somewhat Loachian exercise, shot and designed in deliberately drab early-1970s shades of brown and beige, Requiem is as far from sexily must-see as it's possible to get. The fact that it's competing in this week's marketplace against a Bond blockbuster arguably proves - contradicting the film's secular viewpoint - that there is a Devil, after all, at least when it comes to cinema distribution. Still, it's one of the year's best films.

j.romney@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
    Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

    In the driving seat: Peter Kay

    Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road