This Bonds a MI6 agent hot under the collar and nearly out of control and M (Judi Dench) isnt convinced promoting him to 007 status is the smartest move. But hes promoted anyway and immediately sets off on the trail of a terrorist loan shark named Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). After a screw up exposes Bond, hes off to Montenegro to defeat Le Chiffre in a game of high-stakes poker. With the help of a fellow operative (Giancarlo Giannini) and British Treasury Agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Bond buys a seat in a game where $150 million is riding on how well he can read his opponents and handle his cards.
Sex has always been one of the major selling points in Bond movies and Casino Royale doesnt disappoint in that department. Caterina Murino is sizzling as Solange, the wife of a bad guy Bonds trying to take down. The stunning Eva Green brings the right mix of intelligence, style and sensuality to the part of Vesper Lynd. When Vesper and Bond connect, the screen fairly crackles with electricity.
Theres no arguing whos in charge with the always classy Dame Judi Dench back as M. This time around the characters got more bite than bark. M's a woman at the top of her game who doesnt take any crap from new agents. Shes more than a match for Bond and he knows it.
From the astonishing opening foot chase sequence thats beyond description to a jaw-dropping torture scene in which Bonds manhood is at stake, to the more low-key scenes around the poker table, Casino Royale proves it doesnt take ridiculous gadgetry and over-the-top set-ups to make a Bond movie work. Casino Royale fully succeeds in its mission to reinvigorate the franchise without relying on the campiness of past Bond films.
The action is extreme, theres gorgeous eye candy for both sexes, and the plot is actually grounded in reality. Every single actor without exception is terrific. Sexy and violent, with just the right touch of humor to lighten the mood and make it a little playful, Casino Royale is enormously entertaining and a must-see movie.
* Important Review Disclaimer* - Im not a fan of the Bond movies. I like the old Sean Connery films, didnt see George Lazenbys Bond, deliberately purged the Timothy Dalton movies from my memory, and hated the cartoonish takes on Bond in the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan editions (although Brosnan did rise above the material). This is the first time in history Im actually looking forward to the next film of the Bond series.
Casino Royale was directed by Martin Campbell and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity.