To start off the run of reviews of Daniel Craig Bond movies, here’s Luke of Oracle of Film with the first review of Casino Royale (2006)
Thanks again Luke!
“That last hand nearly killed me.”
Number of Times Seen: 5
Brief Synopsis: Bond is finally given his 00 status, which launches him into an investigation over someone profiting by betting on terrorist attacks.
My Take On It: I remember not liking Casino Royale too much on a first watch. Oh, sure, I liked it. I understood that, as far as actors go, Daniel Craig is a perfect fit. He looks good in a suit, delivers his lines with both fun and layers of characterisation, and, best of all, delivers the best action we have seen in a Bond film for quite some time. The chase through the construction yard after the bomb-maker is one of the most gripping fight scenes I have seen in quite some time. I also recognised the talent behind the direction. The cinematography was stunning, the soundtrack intense and some of the character arcs surprising. Of course, I could also not fault pitch perfect casting in Eva Green, Mad Mikkelsen and the continuation of Judi Dench’s time as M.
There was just something off about the whole affair. To me, it was not a Bond movie. I imagine this is a similar feeling to how viewers felt when ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ came out. Sure, we can get a cool insight into Bond falling in love and, for a brief moment in time, becoming more than an unstoppable man in a suit, but was that what we really wanted? The fights were awesome, but after an hour, they fizzle out into a more thoughtful and slow type of action. Punch-ups are exchanged for quips across a poker table and the final fight isn’t as much of a fight, as a torture scene, followed by a twist. It is a pretty incredible torture scene though. I nodded in approval at this movie, but I remember very well the feeling of disappointment, as the DVD rolled to an end.
Back then, I was a f***ing idiot. Casino Royale, after a further four watches, has cemented itself as one of my favourite Bond movies of all time, perhaps my number one, depending on how eager I am to sink into Goldfinger on any particular day. Once you have come to terms with the fact that Martin Campbell doesn’t want to make just another Pierce Brosnan, you realise that this is still the same Bond as before. This is the Bond who veers out of the way, almost killing himself, when he realises a girl is tied up on the middle of the road. This is the Bond who has a heart attack, recovers, checks the girl next to him is okay and then returns to a poker game, to deliver the perfect quip to the bad guy. This is the Bond, where even if there was nothing left of him but a smile and a little finger, would still be the best action hero out there right now. This is Bond. James Bond.
Bottom Line: Goldfinger might just pip Casino Royale to the post as Best Bond for setting the trademarks into motion, but Casino Royale is definitely my first stop when it comes to getting the fill Bond experience.