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'Casino Royale' Review

"Casino Royale" Deals Audiences a Royal Flush

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'Casino Royale' Review

Daniel Craig as James Bond in "Casino Royale."

© 2006 United Artists Corporation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions
Daniel Craig is James Bond. In fact, Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery and maybe the only Bond ever who could have pulled off the stunts in Casino Royale. Not only is Craig absolutely amazing, the film itself is one of the most enjoyable, heart-pounding, high octane action-adventure movies in years.

Casino Royale easily surpasses expectations by delivering a white-knuckle thrill ride of a moviegoing experience that even those without one iota of interest in the previous Bond films (like myself) can get caught up in. Gone are the silly gadgets, disappearing cars, and incomprehensible plot lines. Even the bad guy looks like your average everyday criminal mastermind, albeit one who cries tears of blood. The action sequences and romantic excursions are secondary to storytelling, an element sadly lacking from the recent Bond movies.

The Story

Eva Green and Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale"

© 2006 United Artists Corporation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions
Although set in the present day, Casino Royale explores the early days of 007 back when Bond, James Bond wasn’t the ultra-smooth, super-polished spy who orders his martinis shaken rather than stirred. In fact, this James Bond couldn’t care less how his drink’s prepared, all but biting the head off of the bartender who asks for his preference and responding to the question with, “Do I look like I care?”.

This Bond’s a MI6 agent hot under the collar and nearly out of control and M (Judi Dench) isn’t convinced promoting him to 007 status is the smartest move. But he’s 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, he’s 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.

The Acting

I feel so vindicated. I told all you naysayers Craig could pull it off. “Daniel Craig? He’s blonde and blue eyed! What were they thinking? There’s no way this Craig guy can make it work.” Do you want a little salt and pepper with that crow? Craig’s sexy and dangerous, and plays this version of Bond close to the edge. Craig’s Bond is athletically superior and more physically brutal than past Bond's, and Craig's athletic prowess is one of the main reasons he works so well in the role (that, and the fact he’s a first-rate actor). Plus, this Bond comes across as though he’d just as soon kill you as shake your hand. There’s definitely something extremely sexy about the bad boy vibe coming off this Bond.

Sex has always been one of the major selling points in Bond movies and Casino Royale doesn’t disappoint in that department. Caterina Murino is sizzling as Solange, the wife of a bad guy Bond’s 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.

There’s no arguing who’s in charge with the always classy Dame Judi Dench back as M. This time around the character’s got more bite than bark. M's a woman at the top of her game who doesn’t take any crap from new agents. She’s more than a match for Bond – and he knows it.

The Bottom Line

From the astonishing opening foot chase sequence that’s beyond description to a jaw-dropping torture scene in which Bond’s manhood is at stake, to the more low-key scenes around the poker table, Casino Royale proves it doesn’t 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, there’s 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* - I’m not a fan of the Bond movies. I like the old Sean Connery films, didn’t see George Lazenby’s 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 I’m actually looking forward to the next film of the Bond series.

GRADE: A

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.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 1 out of 5
casino royale, Member lamby1234567890

Casino royale A new stunning bond film with the arrival of Daniel Craig as James Bond and any doubts can immediately be dispelled at the start to the finish of the film: Craig is easily the best Bond ever. His 007 is three-dimensional, mysterious, charming, funny, vulnerable and tough as hell, and Martin Campbell's second outing as a Bond director (he introduced the world to Pierce Brosnan in 1995's Golden Eye) is the best adventure yet he rarely lets us down but always shows us his best. Although the film is set very much in the here and now - the impressive use of modern filming for once seems both accurate and believable - the film is based on Ian Fleming's first Bond book and shows us Bond earning his 00s in a brutal opening sequence. But he is clearly a maverick that MI6 are worried about, especially the boss M (Judi Dench) who is perturbed to say the least when she returns home one night to find that Bond has broken into her apartment and on here leather chair. What has he bin doing there? The two agree an uneasy peace when M dispatches Bond on his first mission: to bring down a suspect known as Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker who works for the world's terrorists as a bomb maker which bond need alive. Believing Le Chiffre is planning to bring down several aircraft in order to profit on the stock market, Bond's journey takes him to Africa, the Bahamas, North America, Venice and a centrepiece poker high stakes game held at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. A great Bond movie needs a great baddie and Le Chiffre is more than up to the mark: a ruthless killer, he is also an asthmatic, with a scar that crosses his eye and makes him cry tears of blood. Mikkelsen and Craig's scenes are full of real tension, whether they are politely facing each other across the card table or battling each other in a truly eye-watering (not to mention nude) torture sequence. Equally impressive is the main Bond girl: French actress Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, an uptight accountant who is sent to monitor Bond as he spends vast amounts of taxpayers' money on poker. Their mutual disapproval inevitably turns to romance, and then love, and there is a real tenderness and believability about the scenes they share. With some stunning action sequences to boot - including a Free Running chase that has to be seen to be believed - this has all the ingredients to breathe life into a series that was arguably becoming stale. But there are some quibbles - at 144 minutes it's the longest Bond film ever made (beating the incumbent On Her Majesty's Secret Service by four minutes), and as a result the tension tails off in the second half. The great action set-pieces - and they are great - all occur in the first half of the film. The plot resolution is both peremptory and a little confusing, and poker aficionados may well raise an eyebrow at the climax of the all-important card game. But the pros outweigh the cons by some distance, and despite these drawbacks this is one of the year's most entertaining films. Casino royale I a amazing film an it has a 5 star rating an its my film of the year because it is action packed and a very good story line to it.

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