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Casino Royale

2007-03-19 16:02

In Casino Royale a young James Bond (Daniel Craig), only recently promoted to “double O” status, must track down a syndicate of terrorists who seek to make untold millions by sabotaging large corporations while betting against them on the stock market. His search eventually leads him to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) – banker to these terrorists – who is running an incredibly high stakes poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro. The buy-in is $10 million, with at least $120 million up for grabs. If Bond can beat Le Chiffre, he will choke off the terrorists’ supply of funds. Unfortunately the British Treasury has appointed the beautiful but very stubborn Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to ensure Bond doesn’t take any liberties with their money. Bond starts well, but as the game progresses both he and Vesper find themselves subject to vicious attacks as Le Chiffre becomes more and more desperate to take the prize.


There’s been a distinct fad for “re-sets” of major movie franchises over the last few years. From Batman Begins to Star Wars to Superman Returns, filmmakers seem keen to bring a fresh new perspective to these much loved characters. But all these attempts pale in comparison to this virile and violent new chapter of 007 which is easily the best Bond film for over two decades.

Much of the credit is due to the new face of Bond, Daniel Craig. Hounded by naysayers and critics throughout the filming, the first blonde Bond has proved them all fools. With his steely blue eyes, his quiet intensity and his brawny physique, Craig has made the world’s most famous spy dangerous again. This isn’t a Bond who relies on pen missiles and invisible cars to do his work, this is a Bond who runs his enemy down on foot, over buildings and through walls, and throttles him to death.

Die-hard fans of the Pierce Brosnan brand of refinement may have some trouble accepting this sometimes boorish interloper, but Craig has his own charms. His suavity is a by-product of unshakeable self-confidence rather than affectation, and this lends him an air of realism and authority that has been missing from the movies for some time. In many ways Craig hearkens back to the original Bond, the incomparable Sean Connery, with his barrel chest, his unquestioning self-assurance and his panther like fluidity. Like Connery, Craig relies more on his own wits and strength, and less on gadgets and gizmos.

Of course it took the vision of the people behind the scenes to recognise the need for a fresh new approach to 007. Most of the crew have worked on Bond films before and the producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, have already relaunched the franchise once before with GoldenEye in 1995.

Wilson and Broccoli called on director Martin Campbell on that occasion (which was also Pierce Brosnan’s debut), and they have summoned him again for Casino Royale. Whether this is by pure chance or design, Campbell certainly knows how to inject some life into a movie. Probably most famous for his Zorro films, he is a consummate veteran of the action genre and he keeps the movie snapping along, with hardly a pause for breath.

Casino Royale is also better written than a lot of its predecessors. Unlike the last seven films it is actually based on one of Ian Fleming’s novels (and not just set in his “universe”). Written in 1953, it is (appropriately enough) the first novel in which the character ever appears, and is often seen as one of the darkest, edgiest Bond novels. It has been masterfully updated and adapted by 007 veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with the help of Oscar winning screenwriter Paul Haggis (of Crash fame). The dialogue is particularly excellent, full of wry humour and playful irony, and the screenwriters have had a lot of fun toying with Bond conventions like Martinis and dinner jackets.

As usual the film has attracted a superb supporting cast, with Judy Dench putting in yet another scene-stealing performance as M. In keeping with the old-school feel, the producers have cast a villain who looks every bit as evil as he is, played to oily perfection by Dane Mads Mikkelsen, complete with a cloudy eye. As far as Bond girls go, Eva Green has more spunk and intelligence than most of them put together, and just as much beauty. She is Bond’s equal, both intellectually and professionally, and shares a lot of Craig’s animal magnetism.

While it may stand head and shoulders above most 007 films, Casino Royale isn’t a perfect movie. It’s just a little too long for its own good and tends to gloss over plot details in a way that may annoy attentive viewers. By the standards of previous films it is extremely violent, with several bloody hand-to-hand battles and a rather disturbing torture scene. Though the increased violence is arguably a positive aspect for many viewers, more sensitive audiences should be wary. This is not a kid’s film – it is probably the most grownup Bond ever made.

Like all really good renovations, this new style Bond has arrived before a lot of people were willing to let go of the old one. But even if you are a staunch fan of the Dalton / Brosnan brand, you should give Craig a chance. At one point M calls him a “blunt instrument”, but watching him cut a swathe through his enemies, you can’t help but think this is the sharpest 007 we’ve had in a long, long time.

- Alistair Fairweather
Grabs the flagging 007 franchise by the scruff of the neck and slaps some sense into it. Who said Daniel Craig wouldn't make a good Bond?

raeesa mohammed 2006/11/28 9:52 AM
miss simply tops - grand
Samantha 2006/11/28 10:02 AM
Daniel rules My brother has just brought the dvd back from America, so I couldnt resist watching it before it hit the big-screen (although I'll go watch it again when its released). Daniel is like a breath of fresh air from the Dalton & Brosnan clan. Dont get me wrong, I loved them too - but he's a cut above the rest! I really enjoyed the movie, its a tad more realistic than previous ones (if you can honestly call a Bond movie realistic), and I highly recommend it. Lots of 'edge of your seat' stuff - oh, and by the way, for the ladies - Daniel is worth going to see the movie for as it is - the cutest Bond in my opinion!
tania 2006/11/28 1:57 PM
casino royale great movie
Sean 2006/11/28 3:44 PM
Brosnan no bond. As far as I am concerned Brosnan was hardly a good bond relying on flash gear rather than good stories. I think Daniel will bring back the magic.
Faan de Beer 2006/11/28 3:49 PM
Casino Royale At last again, a James Bond who doesn't look like a sissy but eyes that tell you - he's got a license to kill.
Lourens Walters 2006/11/28 4:50 PM
Great Review if the movie is any bit as good as this review, i am really going to enjoy it. thanks alistair, i am definitely going to see this one when it hits the big screen.
Maria Perry 2006/11/28 5:00 PM
Casino Royale It´s a good movie but too violent and glommy, not suited for children. It isn´t not James Bond any more, just a good thriller and I miss Pierce´s smile and style.
ALEX 2006/11/30 1:37 PM
Mrbaldus 2006/11/30 2:38 PM
Casino Royale Hope Daniel Craig does a good job with the role, i personally would have preferred Clive Owen as JB so i hope Craig proves me wrong.
jimbo 2006/11/30 6:40 PM
its crap its a good action movie but it isnt bond. bond movies are supposed to be lighthearted and fun. Wheres the gadjets and bond comments? its crap.
Mohamed 2006/12/01 9:18 AM
Casino Royale Besides a few great action scenes, especially those in Uganda and the airport scene, the movie lacked intrigue and suspense. I think the new Bond is great but he needs to be more of a ladies man.. thats what makes a real James Bond. The movie could have been so much more if they paid more attention to detail.
Babs 2006/12/01 10:55 AM
Alistair off as always? If Alistair is as on the spot as what he has been with recent movies, (NOT) then I think I will hate this Bond. I have to agree with Mrbaldus, Clive Owen would have been the perfect Bond. I unfortunately know Daniel Craig from movies like Layer Cake and The Jacket and he is just no Bond no matter how hard everybody around the world is trying to make the cinema tills go "pling".
Gillybaby 2006/12/01 11:21 AM
Who cares? Firstly, NOBODY can EVER replace Sean Connery - he will ALWAYS be THE James Bond! Secondly who cares about the scenery or the story line or the actor - watch it for what it is!!!! It's a flipping movie for crying out loud!
tiny 2006/12/01 2:33 PM
licence to thrill its nice movie
Mandy 2006/12/01 2:38 PM
Whine, whine, whine, get over it already! 1. Clive Owen would have been a good Bond, but he turned down the role. You need the actor to want the job to make the movie. 2. I love Pierce Brosnan, but he WAS getting on a bit. 55-year-olds shagging 20-somethings is just a bit icky. 3. Sean Connery will always be the standard. You can't beat first place, BUT... 4. Did you know that Ian Fleming's favourite Bond was Roger Moore? He thought he best epitomised the character he had created. 5. I'm looking forward to seeing Daniel Craig. And if anyone's seen him in Sylvia, you'll know he's damn good at sexy!
Blofeld 2006/12/01 3:38 PM
Casino Royale After 44 years the franchise is still going strong.Craig is reasonably good as secret agent 007.But there should be more emphasis on character rather than the fast-pace and sometimes overlong dialogue scenes. Pity we don't get to see more of the Aston Martin DBS. It's screen presence is limited and is deserving of better. Still gets a 007 stars from Me!
Theo Carter 2006/12/01 7:43 PM
Latest Bond Rocks! Craig is great as 007, he certainly takes Bond back to how Ian Fleming had first created him - instead of a smarmy upper class twit, playing with exploding fountain pens, he is as he should be, an unstoppable thug who also knows which fork to use! Closest thing to the best Bond ever - Sean Connery.
esmond 2006/12/02 3:34 AM
woolag new james bond is gevaarlik
John 2006/12/04 11:57 AM
licence to bore No opening scene that made bond movies famous. No Q and no gadgets. Poker game that took forever to finish. Bond falls in love. If the main character wasn’t called James Bond I wouldn’t have known it was a Bond movie. Absolute rubbish!!!
TJ 2006/12/04 3:36 PM
Not bad I had my doubts, but Craig fits the role of a young inexperienced Bond. The question is will he fit in as a more experienced 007(if he gets the chance)?
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