Movie Review – Casino Royale

The name’s Bond. James Bond. On November 17, Daniel Craig became the sixth actor to take on the role formerly played by Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby. Craig captivates the audience with his superb acting and charisma that emphasize the physicality of the stunt work -rather than special effects-as the radically revamped Bond of Casino Royale. The movie is based on the 1953 novel in which Ian Fleming first introduced Bond to his readers.

Directed by Martin Campbell, Casino Royale certainly delivers on action, as the settings change from Prague to Venice to Lake Como to the Bahamas. Bond’s first 007 mission takes him to Madagascar where he is assigned the task of spying on the notorious terrorist Mollaka. Contrary to the MI6 mandate, Bond decides to launch his own investigation and finds himself traveling through the Bahamas in search of Mollaka’s extended terrorist cell. He soon meets Dimitrios and his exotic girlfriend and realizes that he is closer than ever to finding the world’s most dangerous terrorist financier, Le Chiffre. When Bond discovers that Le Chiffre plans to play in a high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em at Montenegro’s Le Casino Royale and use the winnings for more malevolence, he decides to play against him in an effort to halt the terror.

Of course, Bond’s mission comes with some strings, namely a beautiful, treasury agent, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who is sent by the British government to keep her eyes on Bond. Lynd proves to be a somewhat prickly partner for Bond as they take an immediate dislike to each other. Needless to say, they eventually warm up to each other’s charms but not before a few intense rounds of poker and some nasty encounters with the bad guys.

Lynd is an intelligent woman, unlike what Bond girls are portrayed as today. If you look back to the books or early Connery films (with the exception of Diamonds are Forever), the lead female characters were always intelligent, independent and sometimes even put up a good fight. The movie has an authenticity to it. Of course, Bond has to find himself in an Aston Martin at some point, his favorite onscreen vehicle, however, it is so early in his career that he tells a barman he does not care how his martini is made.

Craig certainly won me over after seeing the film. The actor delivered a tough and ruthless Bond who could be a cold-blooded killer, a cool calculating gambler and as always, a matter-of-fact seducer of women. But he also knows that killings can be messy and that emotions can sometimes cloud judgment. This film illustrates the development of Bond’s callous, cold-hearted character in later movies. The last scene was amazing, with the audience going wild, cheering and clapping. The ending left us wanting more and waiting for the next film.

The film is a bit long, with an unexpected third act pushing the running time to 144 minutes. Yet, the movie should help newcomers and older viewers rediscover what made Sean Connery’s early Bond movies the best of the series. Overall, I would heartily endorse this film as it featured a simplistic, coarse, no-frills, and realistic Bond without the futuristic Jetsons’ toys and gimmicks.

December 4, 2006
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