Casino Royale (2006)
New Age Bond
Why is it that people who can't take advice always insist on giving it? - James Bond
So after a short hiatus James Bond is back bigger, better and as is often the case with a new actor taking over the famous suit, gun and agent status of 007. So much was made of the news that James Bond was returning when it was first announced and predictably there was even more news when they announced Daniel Craig was to don the mantle of Britain's most famous spy and become James Bond. Would Craig be any good, would the movie be interesting for a new generation, would it be comedy bond or serious bond? The questions were endless and often boring. So to answer those questions in short Daniel Craig is extremely good as James Bond, the movie "Casino Royale" is certainly on the serious side and yes with a more realistic nature it is certainly appealing for a new generation who had been treated to a new sort of hero a few years earlier in the form of Jason Bourne.
Having recently achieved his 00 status, James Bond (Daniel Craig - Layer Cake) is sent on his first mission to bring down Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) a mysterious private banker for underground terrorists. Having lost a large sum of the terrorist's money Le Chiffre stages a high stakes poker game in Montegro. With treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green - The Dreamers) in tow and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) assisting, Bond enters the poker game to stop Le Chiffre from winning back the terrorist's lost money.
As it happens this is not the first time Ian Fleming's "Casino Royale" has been adapted into a movie, back in 1967 it was made into a very comical spy spoof starring David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen to name just a few of a long list of stars. But this time round the adaptation of "Casino Royale" is definitely not a spy spoof and definitely a lot grittier than we have become use to when it comes to James Bond movies.
The story to "Casino Royale" is not actually that brilliant but with the added intro sequence which gives us the history to James Bond getting his 007 status and then embarking on his first mission, it is more than adequate. What is especially good is that even with such a lightweight storyline the producers have managed to basically capitalize on what is essentially a reboot of the franchise and fill the movie with relevant information to build up Bond as if he was a brand new character.
It also helps that "Casino Royale" is one of the most realistic James Bond movies for quite a while. Yes it's still revels in over the top action but where in past encounters with James Bond you would see people get basically knocked shitless only to get up with out a scratch in a cartoon like manner, this time around characters bleed, they get hurt and they often remain down when they get a kick in. Some may not like this and prefer the more comical bond of say the Roger Moore era but for me it works brilliantly making James Bond this time round feel like a real character rather than a fantasy figure. It also means that the comic quips which had started to make the Bond franchise a little cheesy have been toned right down and although present do not dominate proceedings.
Keeping things more realistic whilst making Bond still as exciting is no mean feat but every ounce of the action is adrenalin packed, edge of your seat entertainment. From an early sequence which sees Bond participating in a fast paced chase through a series of building and roof tops is some of the best action I have seen in a Bond movie in years. But it doesn't end there and although as the storyline evolves it actually confines the action slightly, needless to say the producers have managed to include enough to keep the momentum of "Casino Royale" at a perfect pace.
Plus of course a Bond movie would not be a Bond movie with out 007 being accompanied by a bevy of beauties. As with the transformation of James Bond into a more realistic spy the womanising which had been associated with him has also been toned down, not to the extent that it has been completely removed but we now have a Bond who doesn't charm his way into a woman's knickers when ever he can.
But now to the real gritty Daniel Craig as the man in the suit is he man enough, a good enough actor to take on such an iconic role. Well yes Craig is, in fact I would say that after Sean Connery he is the next best Bond. As already mentioned this a new Bond with a new realism which makes Craig's job a lot easier because he can stamp his own mark on this version of James Bond making him in many ways his own. He has the looks to pull it off and physically, thanks to that certain swimming trunk scene, he also appeals to a female audience as well as a male. But it is really down to his acting which makes this Bond so good, he displays a raw aggression which makes his performance engrossing and you get a feel that this is a Bond who is set on doing his job no matter what.
Beside Bond you have Dame Judi Dench who returns as M, which does make matters a little confusing as if memory serves me right she was introduced as the previous M's successor in a previous Bond movie so could not have been legitimately around for Bond's first case. But even so it doesn't matter as Dench makes for such a brilliant M that the slight annoyance can be forgiven. What is more apparent this time round is that M's relationship with Bond is much closer and although he aggravates her no end she seems concerned for his welfare more than ever. The partnership of Dench and Craig works in many ways much better than her partnership with Pierce Brosnan.
Then of course you have the other women in Bond's life most notably Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. Thankfully the producers have dropped the need for double entendre names, something which I am grateful for as it stops this Bond feeling too Austin Powers. Anyway back to Eva, she is brilliant in the role of Vesper a slightly mysterious character who as well as being fragile is also quite tough, which is perfect for the new grittier Bond. Plus of course she is very predictably attractive but what else would you expect.
If I had one negative would be that this time round I actually missed the over the top bad guys which Bond has too fight. Mads Mikkelsen is very effective as Le Chiffre but never comes across as that menacing. But then bringing in a camp over the top bad guy would have been seriously out of place in this new age of Bond.
What this all boils down to is that as a reboot to the James Bond franchise I have to say "Casino Royale" is surprisingly impressive. It has all the elements which are needed to make James Bond appeal for a new generation of movie lovers. Plus Daniel Craig does a splendid job of making this new grittier Bond his own and touch wood should be around for a while to come. As for the storyline to "Casino Royale" it is slightly weak but is made up for by plenty of action and as a re-introduction to James Bond is spot on.
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