Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale (2006)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.

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

Casino Royale (2006)

Date of viewing: June 12, 2014

1-Casino Royale (2006)
Opening
The Thorn: 7.0 – I’ve always had trouble with the opening sequence: it looks like video, not film. It’s in black and white but was clearly desaturated in post. And poorly. It looks like a cheap ‘Sin City’. I was also shocked by how brutal the violence was. This is not Moore’s Bond, that’s for sure. I did enjoy the set up to the barrel intro, although I hated the fake blood streaming down – that was corny. The animated credits sequence was too much of a departure for me, what with its ’50s vibe. And the characters were too blocky. The only good thing about this opening is that it set my expectations lower. I was about to be blown away.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Graphics are very good. I like that it focus on Bond, and not on naked dancing women. Song is ok.

***

2-Casino Royale (2006)Story
The Thorn: 9.0 – This is an excellent story, and one of the best scripts of the series. It’s not international espionage, but it’s a stellar cat-and-mouse scenario, as Bond is after Le Chiffre, who is suspected of helping fund terrorism. His task is to break down his opponent so that he has no choice but turn to the British government for shelter. The 2nd act is mostly set in a casino, but it’s utterly gripping stuff.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – The main thread of the story is not only good and simple, it is also successfully wrapped into a bigger plot whichcan be felt at various times in the movie. Excellent presentation anduse of viewer’s imagination.

***

3-Casino Royale (2006)Banter
The Thorn: 8.5 – Thankfully, the exchanges are never corny. It’s a darker brand of wit: sarcastic, ironic. I thought that most of the dialogue was pretty sharp for once. The only exception is this syrupy line that Vesper says to Bond, which made me retch (“If all that is left is your smile…”). ACK. I have to take a half mark off just for that grotesquery.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – The dialogue between Bond and Vesper during their first meeting is delicious. In general, throughout the movie, dialogues (not just banter)are performed in a very natural way; they don’t feel theatrical.

***

4-Casino Royale (2006)Villains
The Thorn: 8.5 – The villains in this film are mostly real-world villains; there are no superhuman foes or freaks. Mads Mikkelsen is perfect as Le Chiffre: he’s cold, calculating, cruel, creepy, and stuffy. And I love his one gimmick, damaged tear ducts that lightly leak blood from one eye. It’s just enough to make him a Bond villain, without making a freak show of him. All the others are average fare, but very good.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – LeChiffre is a well designed character; all his attributes fit well together. I like his skinny look, his use of an asthma pump, and his weird eye that bleeds from time to time, suggesting that he has a weak health, which in turn supports that he would be more inclined to develop and use his intellect. His love for gambling and competition fits well with his profession.Mikkelsen, playing LeChiffre, is perfect for the role. As mentioned before, a great feature of this movie is that the villain is part of a bigger organization which we don’t see but discover the existence.

***

5-Casino Royale (2006)Bond Girls
The Thorn: 9.0 – There are always plenty of beautiful women in a Bond film, but the two principal one are Solange Dimitrios, and Vesper Lynd. The first is a woman Bond seduces to get information on her husband, one of Le Chiffre’s contacts. She doesn’t have a distinctive personality, but she’s gorgeous and sexy (Caterina Murino came fourth in Miss Italy 1996). But the stunner is Eva Green, as Vesper. The character is smart and worldly, but she’s devastatingly beautiful – a natural beauty. She also looks good glammed up, but it’s au naturel that she really shines. Le sigh…
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – CaterinaMurino (playing Solange) and Eva Green (playing Vesper) are both extremely beautiful women. Solange is alluring and it is very sad how she gets scorned by her husband. Vesper seems small and frail, but is extremely intelligent, playful, confident, resourceful, active, loyal and natural; she is not a risk-taker like Bond (no one sane is) but she is not afraid to take an active role in front of adversity. It is no surprise that Bond and Vesper falls in love.

***

6-Casino Royale (2006)Gadgets
The Thorn: 8.0 – What’s great about this film is that what few gadgets there are are plausible and/or practical ones (homer chip implant, GPS phone, …etc.). Even his vehicle isn’t all tricked out: it has a gun, antidotes and a portable defibrillator. It’s less flashy/exciting than previous installments, but it’s perfect for this grittier outing.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Gadgets used in the movie make sense. My favorite is the medical kit in Bond’s car; it makes sense for a field agent to have access to one. I also likethe fact that the gadgets are simply used, and not explained in some silly and superfluous way.

***

7-Casino Royale (2006)Vehicles
The Thorn: 8.0 – There’s really nothing exaggerated here: all are very realistic, with some flashy rides, some not at all. And there’s a terrific cameo by the Aston Martin DBV.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – I like the 1964 Aston Martin that Bond wins fromDimitrios, but my favorite car is Bond’s newest Aston Martin which is quite hot.

***

8-Casino Royale (2006)Locales
The Thorn: 9.0 – I loved the look of this picture and the various vistas and locations: the Bahamas, Venice, Lake Como, even Czechoslovakia were all eye candy. I didn’t like the ending in the crumbling venetian villa, though. That was too claustrophobic and stretched the limits of my suspension of disbelief.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Good choice of locations that make you feel at the various place in the story: Prague, Uganda, Madagascar, Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro, Venice, etc.

***

9-Casino Royale (2006)
Stunts
The Thorn: 8.5 – Although I suspect that much of the work is enhanced with CGI, at least we don’t feel cheated, à la GoldenEye: it appears real. The parkour segment is astounding, precisely for that reason. I love that it pits an actual athlete versus a brute force, with no clear winner in the game – two different approaches leading to a stalemate of sorts. Exceptional. This is one of the most exciting sequence of the series; it’s edited together with precision.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – The fight and chase scenes are extremely well choreographed and edited. My favorite stunt was the flipping of the Aston Martin during the chase with Vesper’s kidnappers; obviously the sceneis rigged to produce a crash, but Idont think they could have planned such a spectacular and gracious flip.

***

10-Casino Royale (2006)Soundtrack
The Thorn: 8.0 – Although I’ve long been a fan of Chris Cornell’s voice, I’m not a big fan of his music. I was excited to know he was doing the theme, but it’s merely okay. The soundtrack itself, though, is superb. David Arnold outdoes himself in the subtlety department, here, hardly touching the Bond theme, only hinting at it – because Bond isn’t quite 007 yet. Genius. But he does use permutations of it and the theme song here and there. Very nice.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Ididnt notice the music, which is perfect since it wasn’t needed.

***

11-Casino Royale (2006)Best Bond moment
The Thorn: I have three favourite moments, all for different reasons: 1) the parkour segment, because it’s so exhilarating, 2) the shower scene between Vesper and Bond; I thought it was super sweet and tender – I loved seeing their vulnerability, 3) when Bond dons a tuxedo for the first time – the Bond theme played subtly at that point, and we knew this was the beginning of the making of the legend. Although the latter didn’t invoke chills, or impress me much, it’s technically the best “Bond moment”.
The Horrible Dr. B: It’s hard because there are so many to choose from. However, one stands out for me: the scene where Vesper refuses Bond’s help and decide to kill her self. One might think that sheis ashamed by her act of betrayal to Bond, and that she is afraid of him; there is alittle bit of that probably, however, I believe she is sacrificing herselfin order to save Bond and her boyfriend. And what makes this act so powerful is that we know that she is very intelligent and strong; thus it must mean that she is extremely afraid by the villain’s organization and there is much more to this story that we don’t know.

***

12-Casino Royale (2006)Worst Bond moment
The Thorn: At one point, Vesper is kidnapped and Bond goes in pursuit in his Aston Martin. He’s racing down the night roads, turns a corner and, suddenly, Vesper is lying in the middle of the road, tied up. So he swerves out of the way and crashes his car. Except that, at the speed he was going, and given how close she was when he saw her, he would have killed her. And there’s no way he would have flipped his car the way he did, like a flimsy, paper toy. This felt SUPER contrived to me, and it ruined the moment.
The Horrible Dr. B: There is no bad moment. The only small problem I have is at the beginning where we see how Bond becomes a double-0 agent. The scenes are great and interesting, but the problem is that we only seethe conclusion of a mission, lots of information are not explained and it is alittle bit confusing what exactly is relevant to the rest of the story.

***

13-Casino Royale (2006)Overall
The Thorn: 8.5 – Without a doubt, ‘Casino Royale’ is one of the best Bond films of the whole series: the material is smart, tightly paced and put together extremely well. Daniel Craig makes for an interesting Bond – not a good Bond, per se, but a good pre-Bond, as this version of the character is a brute who will smooth out over time and eventually become the suave 007 that we’ve come to know and love. He’s no Roger Moore and, in this context, that’s a good thing. But it would have been all for naught if the material hadn’t pulled its weight – as evidenced in the follow-ups.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – This is the perfect James Bond movie. Everything is perfect: actors (not just the main ones, but all of them), characters, dialogue, story, editing, photography, stunts, locales, etc. Bravo! Please, producers, directors, actors, take this movie as your guide. Craig’s Bond is excellent; he features a young Bond in his first mission as 007, and as such his look and methods are not as refined as we know him for, but his intelligence and risk-taking style is all there for us to enjoy.

James Bond will return in ‘Quantum of Solace’

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