Casino Royale Review
“I've Got A Little Itch... Down There. Would You Mind?”
November 14th, 2012
I am by no means a hardcore James Bond fan. If you were to ask me how may Bond films I've seen in total, I would be able to count the number on one hand. Those four films being "Die Another Day", "Casino Royale", "Quantum of Solace", and the most recent release "Skyfall". But even then, barely half of those were times where I actually enjoyed my time and remembered what I had seen after a week to two weeks had gone by.
After hearing some things about "Casino Royale" that were more than the regular praise from a close friend of mine, I decided to pick up a DVD copy of "Royale" that same night. It wasn't until then that I became much more enthralled with the character of James Bond than I ever had been before. I'd heard about the films that the experienced Sean Connery had done, the rather disappointing one-off from George Lazenby, the sometimes ridiculous outings courtesy of Roger Moore, the two from Dalton, and three from Brosnan, who I never really got that good of a feel in the role of Bond, but after all of those actors had given their interpretations I wasn't ever interested.
That was until I heard about Daniel Craig.
MI6 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig), having recently been raised to the status of "double-oh", is on assignment to apprehend internationally known bomb-maker Mollaka in Madagascar. But after things go awry, Bond quickly finds himself involved in an intricate and life-threatening plot brought about by Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker to the world's terrorists. With help from the head of MI6 (Judi Dench), HM Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and surprising ally and CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), Bond must best Le Chiffre at a high-stakes Texas hold 'em tournament or risk forfeiting not only his life, but also the life of a loved one.
As I said in my "introduction", one of the four James Bond films that I've seen was 2002's "Die Another Day", starring Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Judi Dench, and Pierce Brosnan as Double-Oh Seven. I suppose I shouldn't say "have seen" in this case because if you were to ask me what happened in that film, I wouldn't be able to tell you a thing. The reason being, I saw parts of that film ten years ago. I don't know about yourself, but when I was ten years old I was much more concerned with Godzilla, Digimon, and Beyblade. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I remembered the fourth and final film outing of Mr. Brosnan, courtesy of a movie review podcast's James Bond retrospective series.
And as I've become more and more familiar with movie reviewing and the certain aspects of a film that need to be paid attention to, I recalled just how lackluster a film "Die Another Day" was. Not to forget the egregiously long period of time, for long-time James Bond fans especially, of four years without any sort of hope for the franchise. In that time, many a Bond fan had thought their beloved franchise gone by the way of a bullet to the brain, perhaps delivered by the second to most recent Bond himself.
It is with an indisputably satisfied experience many a time over that I say the James Bond franchise has been back and thanks to the most recently released film "Skyfall", keeping Daniel Craig in the role we've come to love more than ever, it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down or fading into our memories.
In his debut as the martini-drinking womanizer with an overdeveloped trigger finger, Daniel Craig does nothing short of astonish. He has brought a level of edginess and debonair to the character that few can resist. A few of my favorite scenes from this film are the chase through construction sites and embassies, the rather unorthodox but no less cringe-worthy torture scene, and the touching confessional between James and Vesper by Lake Como. All of those scenes gave us a look underneath the armor, at the inner workings of the double-oh agent and they showed us how human he really is.
Eva Green and Dame Judi Dench are wonderful in their roles as the women who have to put up with James' shenanigans and steer him in the direction he needs to go. The interactions between Craig and the two are distinctly appropriate for each character. Judi Dench's M is stern yet caring, like a mother would be and Eva Green's Vesper is both antagonizing and affectionate, albeit not quite from the outset. They both do what supporting roles should, but often don't, and give the main antagonist something substantial to play off of and further develop themselves with.
Having only seen him in one other film, I didn't have very much to go on for Mads Mikkelsen as the film's villain. While he was indeed formidable at times, case and point that torture scene, more often than not Mikkelsen's Le Chiffre came off as a spoiled rich kid who was only doing what he was because he could. But perhaps I'm biased after having seen Javier Bardem's remarkable performance in "Skyfall"...
Anyway, if you call yourself a Bond fan and you haven't seen this film, see it immediately. Oh and if you can help it, don't bother with the '67 iteration. This film is by and large much better than that ever could have hoped to be.
This was a review by tMG. Would someone kindly bring me a Vesper? I am quite parched.