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Casino Royale

A movie directed by Martin Campbell

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Bond Plays Poker

  • Apr 14, 2007
Rating:
+3
Pros: The reinvention of James Bond

Cons: Poker game drags a bit too long

The Bottom Line: Daniel Craig may be the best James Bond

I say we should just let Martin Campbell direct every James Bond movie ever made from here on out. This is the second time in five Bond pictures that he’s brought the character off life support. (The first was with Goldeneye.) And he’s done it in two different ways: The first time, he made James Bond the classic character we’ve all come to know and love, bringing him back to his roots. The second time, with Casino Royale, he’s redefined and reinvented Bond. The James Bond in Casino Royale is a tougher, harder Bond and you realize that when the opening credits begin to blare a hard rock song by former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell.

James Bond in Casino Royale is just starting out at MI6. He’s only recently been promoted to 00 status and given his famous license to kill. This younger Bond has more trouble subduing his opponents when he has to take them on with fisticuffs. He loses his cool a lot, makes mistakes, shows fear, and even manages to get himself poisoned and nearly killed in one scene. He saves his iconic introductory line – “The name’s Bond. James Bond.” – until the very last scene in the movie, and the line itself is the last one spoken. When asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, Bond replies by asking if the bartender if he looks like the kind of person who gives a damn. There are points in Casino Royale in which Bond seems to survive entirely on good luck – several guns get jammed or run out of ammunition. In other words, the all-time king of cool, the ultimate man’s man, is finally revealed to be human in Casino Royale.

Casino Royale was the very first James Bond story, the most influential, and arguably the best. This is despite the things people normally think of when they hear the name James Bond. The fancy gadgets and bad guy superweapons have all been axed, though Bond still rips the road in his uber-cool Aston Martin. The whole plot of Casino Royale revolves around a poker game in which a massive amount of money is at stake. The bad guy wants the money so he can do his evil deeds with it. Bond, the best poker player at MI6, has been sent out to win the poker game and thus deprive his enemy of the large wad of cash. It’s not exactly laser-on-the-moon tech stuff we’re dealing with here. Unfortunately, the big weakness of Casino Royale is that the poker game drags on for a bit too long. This probably wouldn’t be so bad ordinarily, but aside from the poisoning scene, no one tries any funny business during the poker game.

One distinct un-Bondlike event is that Bond actually falls in love with the movie’s Bond girl. The Bond girl in Casino Royale is named Vesper Lynd, a smart and witty woman assigned to the mission to make sure Bond can be trusted. It doesn’t take a genius to realize where the two of them end up. However, Vesper’s ultimate fate and the way James reacts to it aren’t exactly reflective of the Sean Connery/Roger Moore glory days of Bond, when such a fate would have been shrugged off. A bit more of a stink might have been made by the Pierce Brosnan edition of Bond, but even he still would have jumped into bed with some other woman by the end of the movie. I actually thought the Bond-in-love touch was a good one – since Casino Royale was the first story, what happens to Vesper may be explanatory of the way Bond treats a lot of other women in the series.

When Daniel Craig was chosen to play James Bond, people made a fuss of it, saying he wasn’t masculine enough or tough enough. I say that’s bull. I say the critics of Daniel Craig don’t know what they’re talking about and should actually try watching the movie. Bond in Casino Royale is tougher and grittier, and Craig delivers. It’s true that Bond shows more emotion than in movies past, but this is about the early James Bond who was just wetting his feet and learning what he is really in for. Showing a little bit of fear or pain would be expected, and Craig is good enough to convince us of his emotions while still remaining masculine enough for us to think of him as a tough guy. Craig plays Bond in a way reminiscent of the way Harrison Ford played Indiana Jones, but with a slightly rougher edge. This being the case, Craig actually comes off as a tough guy much better than any of the previous Bonds. He may never have the knowing, experienced smirk of Roger Moore or the ultra-smooth presence of Pierce Brosnan, but Daniel Craig is Bond, James Bond, the tough guy in a knock down, drag out fight.

I love it when a good series is reinvented just when it’s getting stale. Who can forget Christopher Nolan’s incredible reintroduction of Batman in 2005? With James Bond, the producers finally gave the ultimate man’s man the real breath of fresh air he needed. It’s not the most original movie in the world, but it doesn’t fall into the trap of relying too much on cheap gimmickry which has become the James Bond series as of late. Will Casino Royale become the dark horse of the James Bond series or take its rightful place alongside Bond classics like Goldfinger, Goldeneye, and The Man with the Golden Gun? I hope it’s the latter.




Recommended:
Yes

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More Casino Royale reviews
review by . June 26, 2011
posted in Bond, James Bond
I will bet on this Bond.
It took 4 years, but Bond was finally back after the lukewarm response to Die Another Day.  Time for a reboot to the whole series and it was for the better.      Now, I love a lot of the Bond movies, and even the dumb ones have a place in my heart but it was feeling old hat with even Pierce's best effortsfeeling like regular action movies with nice budgets and production values.  With some new energy and telling Bond's origin we got back down to Bond making …
review by . May 13, 2010
posted in Bond, James Bond
   I liked this film and it is nice that, like Batman Returns, the producers are taking the character in a whole new direction and breathing life into the franchise.  For once it was nice to see someone who can actually fight commando style fill the role.   We finally see how Bond became Bond and the movie tells how Bond first me Felix Leiter.  This Bond is more ruthless than his predecessors, without the smugness of Moore or Brosnon.  Additionally, this Bond seems …
review by . December 15, 2009
While I miss Brosnan as Bond, the new Bond is okay in my book. I don' think the franchise is as good as it was but still watchable.
review by . September 09, 2009
I liked this film and it is nice that, like Batman Returns, the producers are taking the character in a whole new direction and breathing life into the franchise.  For once it was nice to see someone who can actually fight commando style fill the role.   We finally see how Bond became Bond and the movie tells how Bond first me Felix Leiter.  This Bond is more ruthless than his predecessors, without the smugness of Moore or Brosnon.  Additionally, this Bond seems to bear his emotions, …
review by . March 31, 2009
Casino Royale is a Bond film that finally manages to pull of the "real" style correctly. There have been admirable efforts such as On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and the Timothy Dalton films, but none have quite pulled it off right. This is the 21st film in the "never-ending" franchise and also introduces us to our sixth actor to play Bond and the first to be based directly on Ian Fleming's initial novel, Casino Royale (excluding the 60s comedy film).     Martin Campbell, who …
review by . March 26, 2009
Review of Albert Broccoli's Eon Productions "Casino Royale:"    As a dedicated fan of the entire James Bond franchise in my humble opinion Casino Royale is the finest Bond film made to date. Daniel Craig's portrayal of Bond is fresh and realistic as shown through a gritty and hard facet.     The storyline is not too complicated and again believable setting itself up for the sequel; in this case Quantum of Solace. In the beginning of Casino Royale Bond's backstory …
review by . November 01, 2008
I think that we shall never see   A Bond as cool as Connery   But Craig's a diamond in the rough   Not as smooth, but twice as buff     The opening scene's the apparatus   Which brings about Double-O status   And having proved he's got the skill   He's given his license to kill     With no care for diplomacy   He destroys half an embassy   Closed circuit TV caught it all   Which …
review by . April 27, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Produced a decent movie, even without all the gadgets.     Cons: If you need a fix of new gadgets don't watch this movie.      The Bottom Line: Only watch this if you are an actual Bond fanatic, this is missing all of the gadgets that we've become accustomed to.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. If you are a fan of James Bond like I am, then you will want to see this movie Casino Royale. …
review by . August 06, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Sean Connery's James Bond films were, for the most part, classics.     But Daniel Craig's portrayal is in a class all its own. Craig's Bond is edgier, reflecting a James Bond who is amoral, aloof, far removed from the values of the average person - which makes him well-suited for killing.     Gone for the most part is the techno-wizardy of Q that provided so much of the fun of the Connery films. There's a bit of it: a Sony-Ericcson cell phone plays a small …
review by . July 08, 2007
So somewhat to my surprise, it turns out that, in general, I actually like James Bond films. This comes as something a shock to me, because normally I tend to prefer more highbrow cinema. But there's something about Bond...    When the Bond movies are at their best (Goldfinger, Licence To Kill, On Her Majesty's Secret Service - 2-Disc Ultimate Edition, Thunderball), they are among the best films ever made. Roger Ebert even put "Goldfinger" on his list of Great Films. When they're …
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Nicholas Croston ()
Ranked #19
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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Details

Director: Martin Campbell
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Release Date: 17 November 2006 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Runtime: 144 min
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