Movies / Movie Reviews

Casino Royale

By Mitch Emerson
November 17, 2006 - 17:34

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright
Director: Martin Campbell
Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G Wilson, Colin McDougall, Anthony Waye
Writers: Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis, Ian Fleming (novel)
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, and sexual content.
Distributors: Sony Pictures Releasing

Daniel Craig takes over, or should I say "kicks off" the Bond series in Casino Royale. James Bond has just received his 00 status when he must stop La Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker for terrorists as well as a high stakes poker player. La Chiffre takes his clients money and uses it to gamble on high risk stocks. When Bond foils his attempt to blow up a prototype airliner, La Chiffre must win a poker game in order to save his own skin. Of course Bond is there to stop him. With a kick ass car and a beautiful Treasury Agent (Eva Green) by his side, Bond does what he always does, he saves the day with style, suaveness, and more than a little violence.

Director Martin Campbell takes Bond in a new darker, grittier direction that is obvious from the beginning. Opening with a black and white noir-esque scene of him beating the crap out of some dude in a bathroom, you can tell this ain't your Daddy's Bond. From there we go right to a full on action sequence between Craig and Sebastien Foucan that would give Jackie Chan a run for his money. Is that enough examples? It may not be as cheeky or slick as previous Bond films but as a straight up spy/action flick Casino Royale delivers the goods and puts the "thriller" back in spy thriller. I know, that was kinda lame.

Hardcore fans will probably be disappointed with Danial Craig as Bond because he isn't as distinguished or gentlemanly as previous Bonds, but then again, this is a Bond before the cars, women and "shaken, not stirred" martinis. Personally, I think the only thing Craig doesn't have is the look of Bond. He looks more like a brawler from somewhere in Texas and fights like one. I feel that he could take the Bond franchise in a wonderful direction, if the fans can accept him. Mads Mikkelsen is a great villain, played as a man who is just trying to recover from his own mistakes. Don't get me wrong, he is a villain yet you may be able to sympathize with him. Well, at least until he goes for the rope. Surprisingly it's Judy Dench who keeps Bond (and the movie) grounded in reality by actually caring for him and trying to keep on the correct pat while at the same time becoming increasingly exasperated by the methods that Bond chooses to employ. Eva Green as the newest (r is ti the first?) Bond girl has the right amount of sex appeal while not being vapid. She is a smart and witty Treasury Agent who puts England's welfare first and foremost. Giancarlo Giannini has the the closest thing to a supporting role as Mathis, the local cop who is helping Bond. I have always liked him in everything I have seen him in, most notably Hannibal and Darkness.

Now all films have some problems and Casino Royale is no exception. Some of the familiar faces and trademarks we have come to know are missing. No Q, Miss Monneypenny or any of the fancy gadgets are here. Which leads me to the biggest problem of all. Is this a prequel, relaunch or a remake? I ask because it takes place in 2006 and is supposed to be Bonds first appearance. A friend who accompanied me swears that it's a prequel. I argued that how can it be a prequel if it was the first Bond book ever written?

Bottom line, a pretty good spy thriller with just the right amount of tension, action and humor. While not being a Bond fan myself I can say that this is a relaunch of a cultural staple that succeeds in doing what it set out to do. To bring Bond back in more down to earth feel while keeping the basic spirit of Bond. Minus the cheesy, supposedly "witty" banter and megalomaniacal schemes of caricature like super villains that have run rampant in Bond films the last few years. Give Mr. Craig a chance, he just may impress you.

Until ejector seats come as standard equipment,
keep reading

Emerson, Mitch Emerson.

Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
James Bond: Does it look like I give a damn?

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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