Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale is an entertaining action-packed film, successfully launching the rebooted series.
Casino Royale takes us back to the early beginnings of James Bond, where our iconic hero has just killed traitorous MI6 chief Dryden and his contact, thus obtaining his newfound status: 00 agent (license to kill).
Sometime later, we find Bond on an assignment in Madagascar to apprehend bomb maker Mollaka and bring him back for questioning. After he and another agent’s cover is blown, Mollaka runs and hides in the embassy. Bond follows him and finds himself swarmed by African soldiers, with guns pointing at him. To get away safely, Bond kills Mollaka and destroys the Embassy. Angry about Bond’s actions, MI6 leader M (Judi Dench) admonishes him and sends him away. Bond leaves, but uses his departure as an advantage to investigate a clue he picked up from Mollaka: ELLIPSIS.
Bond arrives in the Bahamas, and he looks for more clues. Through investigation, Bond discovers that a man named Dimitrios is linked to everything. Bond follows him to the airport and uncovers that Dimitrios has hired a bomb maker to destroy the Skyfleet’s airliner. Bond foils the bombing; consequently, financially hurting the man responsible for hiring Dimitrios and the bomb maker: Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).
Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker and accountant who lost a client’s investment when the bombing was averted, sets up a high-stakes poker tournament, with the winnings totaling 115 million. Eager to stop Le Chiffre from winning the money, M assigns Bond to participate in the tournament and beat Le Chiffre, so the government can foil his plans of international terrorism.
On his way to Casino Royale in Montenegro, Bond learns that he will be working with British treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green)—a woman who is tasked with protecting the government’s 10 million buy-in. Bond converses with Lynd and soon finds out that she is his female counterpart.
Bond is more comfortable with his assignment and is ready to take on any challenge. However, as Bond faces off against Le Chiffre in the tournament, more obstacles arise, forcing Bond to conclude that beating Le Chiffre is going to be harder than expected.
Casino Royale is the 21st film in the long-running Bond franchise. Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis, and directed by Martin Campbell, Casino Royale is an entertaining, action-packed film. The filmmakers successfully revamped the series and in doing so, establishes a great launching pad for other Bond films to follow. They also shed the previous Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond image and transmogrify it into a new, improved Bond, with Daniel Craig in the title role.
As mentioned, the filmmakers go into a new direction with Bond by taking away the fancy, cartoonish gadgets used in the Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films. Instead, they create exhilarating action sequences for Bond to display his agile, quick thinking, and hand-to-hand fight skills. As a result, Bond is more thrilling to watch every time he matches up against his adversaries.
On a directorial level, Martin Campbell crafts a great-looking film with well-choreographed action sequences. Scenes of Bond chasing Mollaka across steel yards are thrilling to watch; even the scenes of Bond engaging enemies in fisticuffs build suspense, keeping viewers’ attention throughout the sequences. Additionally, Campbell frames the poker tournament scenes with precision. The director cuts out all the unnecessary parts to keep the scenes refreshing and interesting. As a whole, Casino Royale moves at a brisk pace, never losing momentum, building to a satisfying payoff.
Performance-wise, all actors deliver good performances in their roles. Daniel Craig steps into the role of James Bond and makes it his own. As Bond, Craig exudes charisma, gravitas, and acumen. Craig also manages to bring a lot of character depth to Bond. With this added depth—which was missing from previous installments—Bond is more of a complex, interesting hero. Eva Green portrays Vesper, and she proves that she is worthy of the iconic “Bond Girl” role. As Vesper, Green is alluring, intelligent, and resourceful. Whenever Green is onscreen, she ensures that Vesper is a likable presence by displaying good acting chops in the dramatic scenes. Mads Mikkelsen portrays Le Chiffre, making the character slimy, devious, and scary at the same time. Mikkelsen, who is a talented character actor, handles every scene he’s in with ease.
Casino Royale is a rousing film from start to finish. The film serves as the first film in the rebooted series. With Campbell in the director’s chair, he delivers one of the best Bond films to ever come out.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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