Casino Royale Review
Daniel Craig as Bond, a reboot of the spy series and Martin Campbell as director, what could possibly go wrong? Nothing is the answer to that question, because Casino Royale is nearly perfect.
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Giancarlo Giannini, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Jesper Christensen.
Run Time: 144 min.
US Release: 17 November 2006
UK Release: 16 November 2006
German Release: 23 November 2006
After a long absence on screen, mostly due to the failure Die Another Day was, James Bond returned in 2006 after it was decided to give the character a new coat of paint. Martin Campbell was contracted to redo what he did with GoldenEye and the director managed to give Ian Fleming's character the Nolan treatment. Casino Royale is an amazing origin story that depicts Bond and the villains as flawed human beings.
--- WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ---
After successfully eliminating Dryden and his contact, Bond (Craig) obtains his double-0 status. He is then giving instructions to find a bomb-for-hire in Madagascar and take him in for questioning, but before he can get even near him the bomb-maker notices the spies and a parkour chase ensues through the streets of the African island. The pursue ends at the Nambutu embassy, which Bond shoots-up killing the terrorist and taking his backpack and mobile phone.
Meanwhile LeChiffre (Mikkelsen) meets with White and an African warlord. The organisation they work for promised the warlord a profitable investment, involving short-selling stocks in companies and engineering terrorist attacks, sinking the share price and creating a large sum. But when Bond intervenes and they lose all their money, Le Chiffre needs to set-up a high stakes poker game in Montenegro.
Bond is sent to Montenegro, where he meets Vesper Lynd (Green), a British Treasury agent, and MI6 contact Rene Mathis (Giannini). Bond gradually starts having feelings for Lynd and when he wins the game and she is kidnapped by the organisation, he sets of chasing after them. Bond is taken hostage and tortured, but is suddenly released. It is there he notices that the woman he fell in love with, is playing a double game herself.
Casino Royale was a completely new experience for me, I remember sitting in the cinema with my sister having expected a mindless spy-action flick, but what I obtained was so much more! It was grounded, dark, gritty and resembled the books as none of the movies did before. This is one of my favourite Bond films, straight after Skyfall.
The action scenes were riveting and filled with tension, and the generally fast paced nature of this film never allowed for a dull moment. The scenes in Montenegro, though a little slower, have been incredibly suspenseful, especially when it came down to Bond playing Le Chiffre. One of the best story-related parts came during the end, when Bond was trying to salvage the little soul he had left through Vesper’s love.
Casino Royale is a smart, very tongue and cheek written Bond film, with a story that perfectly laid out its cards. But it is not perfect and there has been something that really annoyed me along the multiple sessions when I watched it. That problem was the end, which dragged on, from the hospital scene onwards till the end, and although I understand why Vesper commits suicide I did not like how it was executed.
When it comes to the characters, Casino Royale has a vast array of talented actors that give their best. Who ever says that Daniel Craig is not James Bond could not be more wrong! Craig portrays Bond as Ian Fleming envisioned him in his novels; a human being who is broken and is trying fixing his last remnants of humanity through the beautiful woman he falls in love with.
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd is not only one of the most beautiful Bond girls, but she did such a great job as the insecure and emotionally hurt Treasury agent. She has flaws, is not perfect but like James she is very much human and finds that he is the person able to heal her.
Mad Mikkelsen did an amazing depiction of Le Chiffre, his talent allowed him to create one of the best Bond villains on screen. You understand why he builds up the poker game, and why he needs the money. In his line of business, if he does not regain the cash lost from his clients and benefactors he will die. Judi Dench was as always amazing as M, she has given that character so much depth, since she took on the mantle in GoldenEye.
The cinematography of Casino Royale has a clear and electrifying picture. The black & white beginning scenes were a stylistic method for Bond to shed his cinematic past and be able to create himself anew. The action was filmed spectacular, and the close ups during the Poker game filled the atmosphere with intense suspense.
Chris Cornell’s composition “You Know My Name” was powerful, new and at the same time it had a very familiar tone. It is one of the best Bond themes I heard and is among my top 5 favourites.
Verdict: Casino Royale was to the Bond franchise what Batman Begins was to the Batman movies. Martin Campbell created a fast paced, dark but grounded movie, with fantastic performances by Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen. The cinematography is superb and the music fantastic. I give Casino Royale a 9.5 out of 10.
My next Bond review for Quantum of Solace will be posted next week Tuesday. Thank you very much for reading, and if you are interested in what other Bond movies I like, here is the link to my Top 5 Bond list. So are you a fan of the Craig-Bond films? Leave a comment below.