Casino Royale Review

#21

2006

Daniel Craig

So after twenty movies and almost fifty years they finally decided to throw out all the bullshit and reboot the franchise fresh. Casino Royale was actually the first book in the series, and they actually adapted it on TV in the mid 50s, with the main character being an American secret agent called Jimmy Bond. Because of that, when they started making the actual movies in the 60s, they didn’t have the rights to it, so they just skipped it. Since then, they had run out of Ian Flemming novels and just started making up their own names, but now they finally had the rights back, and how fitting that the launch of this new series would be based on the original book. But let’s talk about this movie. We’re finally up to the final and current Bond, Daniel Craig, and he’s fucking awesome. He’s so much more intense and brutal than anything we’ve seen before. It’s much more true to the original Connery version of the character, where you can tell that all the class and style is just an outer layer to hide the cold killing machine that lies beneath, except this version they delve into it a little more. We see a lot more human moments, and it’s like we’re stripping away these layers from the original version of the character. A lot of this development comes from his relationship with the girl, Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green. She’s working with him on his mission, and she refuses to be seduced by any of his bullcrap. There’s a great scene when they first meet and start dissecting each other. She’s a great mental foil for Bond, and it’s fun watching them banter with each other. But yeah, back to Daniel Craig. A lot of people think he’s the best Bond of all of them. I think I still prefer Connery, but they’re hard to compare. Either way, Connery’s performance in the past, it’s not going away, but Daniel Craig is a great new Bond reinvented for the modern era. He’s exactly what the franchise needed and the only other Bond I would call on par with Connery.

He’s helped, too, by the fact that this movie is dope as hell on it’s own. It’s dark, it’s serious, it’s exciting, it’s well written, and I would probably call it one of the best straight up action movies of the decade. The opening scene in black and white where we see Bond complete his two kills required to gain 00 status is brutal and fucked up and badass and sets a great tone for the entire movie. From there we get so many great and memorable action moments. There’s the whole airport chase sequence, an awesome car flip, and a part set in one of those Body Worlds exhibits for some reason. The parkour part at the beginning is the one everyone talks about, though, and it’s pretty easy to see why. It’s really cool, but what’s great about it is how differently they both move. The guy Bond’s chasing is doing all these insane flips and stuff, but Bond is just using brute strength and speed to keep up the best he can. Me favourite part is when the dude jumps over a wall and Bond just busts through it after him. One of my personal favourite moments is the fight in the stairwell. It’s just so gritty and bloody, it’s one of those fights where you feel every punch. A lot of people have accused these Daniel Craig Bonds of aping the style of the Bourne movies. It’s a fair point. There’s a lot of the sort of close up brutal intense fighting that was made popular in those movie, and MI6 in this one do remind me a lot of the CIA in the Bourne movies, with all their laptops and cell phones and cool lighting whenever they cut back to them, but I would say it has enough uniquely Bond elements to stand on it’s own. And besides, Bond movies have always been a reflection of action movie trends of their eras. It’s part of what makes the series interesting, how much of a time capsule each one is. The plot, which I guess I should talk about, revolves around this big high stakes worldwide poker game. There’s this guy called Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkleson from Hannibal, which everyone tells me I should watch but I haven’t yet. He’s a banker for some high priority criminal organization. He’s lost a bunch of their money, and is trying to win enough at this poker game to pay them off before they come after and kill him. Bond is in the game to make him lose so that he’ll go to MI6 for protection and give them info on his bosses. The whole middle act is this poker game, which makes the whole thing feel very Bond. There’s also a really tense scene where he’s been poisoned and has to restart his heart with a defibrillator in his car. Eventually he wins the game, and then Le Chiffre kidnaps him and Vepser and tortures Bond by whipping him in the balls with a big ass rope. It’s a pretty hard scene to watch, and it ends with the bad guys’s bosses showing up and putting a bullet in his head. Then Bond actually resigns from MI6 to go off and live with Vesper somewhere, when it turns out she betrayed him and was working for the bad guys. There’s a huge final fight in Venice where Bond fights a bunch of guys in a building that’s collapsing into the canal, and Vesper ends up drowning in the elevator. There’s a great moment where he’s talking to M on the phone about coming back to MI6 at the end, and she’s like “if you need anymore time…” and he’s like “why would I need more time? Mission’s over. The bitch is dead.” It’s like the origin of Bond’s whole cold uncaring attitude towards women. He’s learned a harsh lesson; in this line of work, you don’t trust anyone. Then we end on probably the best single moment of the whole movie. The bad guy, this dude who Le Chiffre was working for called Mr White, gets a phone call and we don’t hear who’s on the other end but he’s all “who is this?”, and then suddenly he gets shot in the legs. He starts to pull himself up and Bond comes up holding a gun and putting away his cell phone, and he goes “Bond. James Bond.” And then we cut to credits with the classic 007 theme playing, first time we’ve heard it so far. This whole movie is sort of like a Bond origin story, and now he’s finally fully established. It’s a totally badass and satisfying moment that let the whole world know: Bond’s back. After three and a half decades, these movie were finally good and relevant again.

Overall Rating: We’re back, baby/10

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