Casino Royale

Synopsis: Casino Royale introduces James Bond before he holds his license to kill. But Bond is no less dangerous, and with two professional assassinations in quick succession, he is elevated to “00” status. “M” (Judi Dench), head of the British Secret Service, sends the newly-promoted 007 on his first mission that takes him to Madagascar, the Bahamas and eventually leads him to Montenegro to face Le Chiffre, a ruthless financier under threat from his terrorist clientele, who is attempting to restore his funds in a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale. “M” places Bond under the watchful eye of the Treasury official Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). At first skeptical of what value Vesper can provide, Bond’s interest in her deepens as they brave danger together and even torture at the hands of Le Chiffre. The marathon poker game proceeds with dirty tricks and violence, raising the stakes beyond blood money and reaching a terrifying climax.

Casino Royale 8.5

When James Bond fans decried the choice of Daniel Craig as the next 007 before the movie had even begun filming, all I could think was: “Geez… give the guy a chance”. I mean, he certainly didn’t look the part, and I had never heard of him before (I had seen him in a movie before, but had forgotten him completely), but I figured that there had to be a good reason for the producers to bank their whole franchise on him.

The proof was in the pudding: Daniel Craig brought back a gravitas to Bond that was sorely missing since Timothy Dalton’s short tenure and an edge that we hadn’t seen since the early Connery days. While everyone imagines Bond to be a suave, sophisticated spy, the books originally characterized him as conservative and cruel – not really a ladies’ man in the Hollywood sense. And Craig gave us exactly that.

Fact is, Casino Royale ended up being the best Bond movie in decades and Craig, who plays an early version of the Bond character, was proving his worth.

Oh, it’s not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s got a lot of the regular 007 flavours (minus the Bond theme, because he’s not really Bond yet) and it’s a solid piece overall. Furthermore, the cast supports Craig exceptionally well and they match him in their intensity (quite unlike some of the “guests” of years past). Heck, even the villain is appropriately freakish but subdued and calculating.

Casino Royale is pretty much what a good 007 film should be, and it stands right up there with ‘From Russia With Love’, ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Thunderball’, and ‘For Your Eyes Only’ as the best of the Bonds (I do have other favourites, like ‘The Living Daylights’ and ‘Tomorrrow Never Dies’, but they’re hardly grand cinema 😉

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing more of Daniel Craig’s Bond adventures. Absolutely.

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