Not really a reboot of the James Bond franchise, but an entirely continuity-defying telling of Bond’s first adventure as a 00 agent. Guns, girls, cars and plenty of very expensive beverages await you…
Principal Cast and Crew
Directed by Martin Campbell
Full details available at IMDB
James Bond, newly promoted to 00 status, is assigned to discover the funding behind a terrorist network.
Originality: I have not read the original Casino Royale novel, but this film is an adaptation of it, and so it’s not a new story. It’s not a hugely innovative story either — the plot twists, while at least occasionally unexpected, are not things which have not been done before. This doesn’t mean you spend the whole film thinking it’s just a retread of old material though. Three out of six.
Effects: It’s a Bond film, which means big money — a reported seventy-two million pounds (that’s British pounds — about $130 million US dollars) went into the making of this film. Big money means big effects, and they don’t disappoint. Explosions, gunfire, explosions, more gunfire… all excellent. I cannot, however, give the effects a perfect score due to some rather implausible choices of effects for the collapsing building in the later part of the film. Five out of six.
Story: I watched the film, and I enjoyed it, but I’m still not entirely sure why certain things happened. There are things going on to keep you interested, but not always enough information about why events take particular courses — and why didn’t anybody mention the rather inept agent from beginning again? Four out of six.
Emotional Response: One doesn’t expect a strong emotional response from an action film, and most of the time Casino Royale consistently fails to deliver one. That said, there are a few points where the film does start tugging on the heartstrings, and it’s hard to ignore the wow factor of the ever-larger Bond film showpiece action sequences — but it’s also hard to really, truly care. Four out of six.
Acting: There was a lot of criticism from some quarters for the choice of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, but I think the choice has paid off well. Craig’s Bond is a brutal killer underneath a slick dinner jacket, and he slips in and out of every aspect of Bond’s personality with consummate ease. To borrow a thought from the BBC review of this film, Daniel Craig is an actor, and a very good one. As for the rest of the cast, Judi Dench delivers superbly as M once more, although she finds herself in a rather different situation to previous films. Her first scene is particularly good. We must of course also consider the Bond girl and the villain, without which it would hardly be a Bond film. Eva Green turns in an excellent performance as Vesper Lynd, even if it did involve slightly too much eyeliner. On the villainous side, Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre comes across as rich, vicious and definitely not sane — just what the role needed. Five out of six.
Production: Bond films are expected to feature exotic locales, gorgeous scenery, luxurious hotel rooms and for this film the titular casino. I went in recalling the casino scenes from GoldenEye, which oozed obscenely rich sophistication. The casino in this film has a different attitude, busier and noisier, with the luxurious quiet of the private salon where much of the action takes place, but it can’t be faulted, and as usual we’re given a good dose of escapism with numerous five-star hotels, vast quantities of champagne and complicated cocktails made to Bond’s exacting requirements. What stands out most in production terms is the opening sequence, which is in black and white with gorgeous lighting and some very interesting choices of camera angle — and the early chase through a building site, featuring copious and gratuitious free-running. Sound and music are superb, with a soundtrack that manages to sound like a Bond film without making very much use of the classic themes, a deliberate choice to reflect that this is the making of the Bond we know; the familiar music gradually insinuates itself into the soundtrack as the film progresses, culminating with the famous 007 theme as the credits roll. Glorious stuff. Six out of six.
Overall: As an overall grade I award five points out of a possible six. This film is good, but it does have flaws which one has to look past. Don’t go in expecting Battlestar Galactica-style plotting, because you’ll be disappointed. Go in for some entertainment, escapism and wonderfully implausible action and you won’t be disappointed in the slightest.
In total, Casino Royale receives thirty-two out of forty-two. I’m not going to weigh in on whether or not it’s the best Bond film ever, or if Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever, as whatever I say, most of the rest of the world is bound to voice its disapproval extremely loudly. I don’t think many people are going to leave the cinema disappointed thought, no matter who their favourite Bond is.