DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell
May Contain Spoilers!
With Die Another Day signing off on Pearce Brosnan’s Bond on a low note, well as fans were concerned (though I as not being a particular fan, I found this to be good fun), Casino Royale had the responsibility of refreshing the franchise. Some may remember the controversy of the new “Blond Bond” as well as the campaigns which were launched against Daniel Craig as being the wrong choice for the role.
Well, they couldn’t have been more wrong. Daniel Craig is not the most versatile actor, as playing cold characters is his forte, but for this new, or more authentic James Bond, he seemed to be born for this now, post-Bourne part. Based on the first 007 novel by Ian Flemming, Casino Royale introduced the MI6 Agent as a sociopathic shovanist, who in the book, was a top-notch poker player.
The film does the same but adds the usual action set-pieces which come part and parcel with a Bond opus. But it is the action in the Casino itself which is where the film works best for me. The Casino Royale segment is probably the middle hour of the film, but in that hour we focus on the relationships between him and his Bond-girl, Eva Green, as she is MI6’s money-man as it were, the introduction of CIA Agent Felix Leiter, and where he not only played the key poker game, but is also almost hacked to death with a machete and poisoned!
And both of those scenes rank as the best action in the movie, besides the opening free-running sequence, which whilst spectacular, is a bit redundant we all is said and done. But again, the logic behind the poker game is solid, making you wonder how many international matters are dealt with in this manner?
Casino Royale is clearly Bond’s response to Jason Bourne, and this was the right direction to go in and was certainly in keeping of the reboots of the day, again, with Batman Begins springing to mind just, a year earlier. Grit was to replace flamboyance but this manages to blend to two together, still retaining what it is to be Bond whilst looking more into the physical world of Bourne. The film’s heart is espionage and character, rather than comedic turns and action for action’s sake.
This is the best Bond film in decades…