A Brit Late: Casino Royale Review

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Release Date: 16 November 2006 (UK)

Lateness: Almost 2 years

With the new bond movie just around the corner I decided to gather some friends and sit down for the first in the reboot of the franchise. This may have been a mistake, after talking to a few mates and seeing if they would want to come round and watch it I noticed a pattern to each conversation:

Me: “So I was thinking of getting some people together to watch Casino Royale before the new movie comes out, you interested?”

Friend: “Yeah Sure, I haven’t seen that since it came out”

Me: “I’ve never seen it!”

Friend: *Stares at me blankly* “What? Are you kidding me? How could you not have seen it?”

Me: “I just missed it”

Friend: “How can you just miss James Bond?”

etc.

As you can see, people were NOT impressed and each person I spoke to made it their personal mission to make sure I saw this movie.

Casino Royale was the first Bond book written by Ian Fleming, making it the perfect starting point for a re-imagining of the series. I was extremely sceptical of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond going into the movie, having disliked him in almost every previous role save his role in Munich. Let me now after seeing the film say that Craig is a fantastic James Bond, possibly the best since we saw Sean Connery in the role many years ago.

Casino Royale follows Bond through his very first mission as a double 0 agent. The film opens with a fantastic black-and-white sequence showing Bond killing his first two targets, the requirement for becoming a full fledged agent. After a traditional opening credit sequence we are treated to a fantastic parkour-inspired foot chase through streets and across rooftops. As soon as the chase scene ended I knew that I was going to love this movie. The cold, gritty and much darker version of 007 is exactly what I think the series needs to keep it alive, and it also brings the film version of the character a lot closer to the book version.

Bond’s enemy in this outing is Le Chiffre, a man who launders terrorist money, allowing them access to it anywhere in the world. The majority of screen time centers around a marathon poker game where the stakes are high, both for Bond and his enemy. Bond must win to prevent the funding of terrorist activity, depriving Le Chiffre of his money and business, whereas Le Chiffre is playing for his life. He lost his money in a stock market gamble and will be killed by the very clients he serves if he doesn’t pay up in time.

The action sequences, placed well in-between sections at the poker table are awesome to behold. The cinematography is done exceedingly well, something I’m sure we all expect from the director behind Goldeneye. It’s not only the action that’s been ramped up for this entry in the series, so has the emotional involvement. I don’t remember actually identifying or really caring about the characters in a Bond movie until I saw this one. It really manages to draw you into the relationships between the characters. Especially the relationship between James and Vesper Lynd.

I was extremely surprised that the notorious torture scene involving a nude Bond, a chair with the bottom cut out and a section of rope, made it into the film, seeing as its only rated 12A over here in the UK. I have to admit it had even me closing my legs tight and curling up into the fetal position. Nevertheless it just fit, it suited the darker tone of the movie, especially the desperate Le Chiffre.

There was one scene that I was incredibly confused by, in the shower where Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is having a breakdown after seeing Bond kill two henchman. Bond comforts her as she is ranting about having blood on her hands that won’t come off, and then proceeds to suck her fingers.

Wait, what?!

I really have no idea what made that necessary in this scene. I get the fact he needs to do something both comforting and seductive but this just seemed out of place and like a bit of a bad decision. In my opinion he should have just kissed her hand a couple of times and left it at that.

All in all, Casino Royale is a fantastic, action-packed and extremely well done entry into the Bond series. The only thing missing for me was the usually obligatory car chase, however I didn’t even think of that until I sat down and tried to think of bad points on the movie. I cannot wait for Daniel Craig to reprise his role in Quantum of Solace later next month and will be one of the first in line on opening night.

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