It is a common assumption that most men want to be James Bond, and why not? He beats up the bad guys, beds the pretty ladies, and is as suave as any man can be. After viewing the “torture sequence,” as the MPAA has chosen to call it, I doubt many men will envy Bond so much – but they will wonder how his unmentionables are still operational for the Bond adventures to come. That’s something you will have to discover for yourself.
That’s the difference between Casino Royale and the previous triple whammy of Bond duds that have been stinking up theaters since 1997: this Bond is vulnerable, not just some superhero with subdued powers. Everything one has come to expect from a Bond movie is on display; exotic locales, gorgeous women, outrageous action sequences, nifty cars, brutal baddies, and even the occasional gadget (even without Q). As portrayed by Daniel Craig, 007 now has more depth and emotion than ever, and the result is one of the best Bond movies ever made.
Casino Royale, based upon creator Ian Fleming’s 1967 novel, chronicles the inaugural mission of James Bond, as he has just been promoted to a “double-O.” His goal: to stop Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen), a banker with terrorist ties, from winning a $150 million poker tournament. You guessed it; the winnings would be used to pull of a terrorist strike. Our beauty this time around is Vesper (Green), who is appointed by the all-wise M (Dench) to keep a close eye on Bond’s behavior – especially after he ransacks an ally’s embassy. Revelations and double-crosses ensue, but the intensity is as high as it’s ever been in the franchise.
It took all but about a millisecond for the naysayers to come out of the woodwork when it was announced that Daniel Craig would be the new Bond, taking over for Pierce Brosnan. I think it will now be universally agreed upon that Craig was the perfect choice. He is the best and most accomplished actor since Sean Connery to wear the suit, and his range is what propels his success. His blue-eyed stare is suitably piercing, but he also delivers the signature puns and double entendres to perfection. Hearing him order his martini in a long-winded fashion and then deliver the remark “I need to think of a name for that” is one of the many high notes the screenplay hits.
Complimenting the new face of Bond perfectly are some of the most sensational action sequences of the entire saga. The opening chase scene is a physical marvel, so much in fact that “stunt runner” Sebastien Foucan gets his own stunt credit. Unlike the glossy Bonds of the previous three entries, Craig’s Bond takes a beating throughout. This is sweaty-palms stuff, and this coming from someone who thought they had seen it all.
Director Martin Campbell makes his return to the franchise (his previous effort was the best of the Brosnan lot, GoldenEye), and that is just the topper. Everything has come together with Casino Royale, and I’ll join the world in breathing a sigh of relief. I thought the series had already outstayed its welcome as I entered the screening room. Now, with its cliff-hanging conclusion, I eagerly await the next entry.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Length: 144 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity.
Theatrical Release: November 17, 2006
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Written by: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade & Paul Haggis. Based upon the novel by Ian Fleming.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini