Published on November 21st, 2006 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Casino Royale
I’m a huge James Bond fan, and I only know one other person who can give me a run for my money when it comes to geeking out and turning into a total fanboy when it comes to 007. I also consider Pierce Brosnan to be perfectly suited for the role of James Bond, he embodied the role during his tour of duty by providing the action we needed, the quips we craved, and wooing the women we wished we could have. While the series itself succumbed to self-parody and more and more outlandish plots and gadgets, the character was still intact for the most part.
When Casino Royale was first announced (sans Brosnan) you can expect my reservations. The series was rebooting, a new James Bond was being brought in, and the entire series itself was being refreshed to something many in the younger generation were unfamiliar with. There’s no Q, there’s no Moneypenny, but there is the same M? Imagine the confusion of younger fans coming off of the CGI-laced Die Another Day into the more grounded, nearly-gadget-less Royale.
All those fears are unfounded, however, as Casino Royale proves to be one of the, if not the, best James Bond film yet with a perfectly cast lead, a great supporting line-up, interesting story, twists, turns, cars, women, guns, and explosions, James Bond returns to the big screen with a huge bang focusing in on the character and his beginnings rather than invisible cars and laser watches.
A lot needs to be said for Daniel Craig who steps into the role as the sixth actor to play the title character. Craig brings everything to the role and gives the audience more than we could expect. His cocky, arrogant beginnings are believably portrayed and his hardened, deep eyes give the impression of a cold-blooded killer but also the emotion we know Bond still relies on early in his career. Enough speculation and critical analysis of the actor seems totally unwarranted and those who adamantly spoke out against him in the beginning are dining on a feast of crow right now as Craig IS James Bond. I won’t go so far as to say he is better than Sean Connery in the role, as I’ll need several more viewings of Casino Royale and it subsequent sequels to see the range of the character, but based solely on Royale, Craig easily passes Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Brosnan, and George Lazenby.
The movie itself, as previously mentioned, focuses in on the beginnings of 007 and his career at MI6. From the beginning of the film you can see the emotionally driven, arrogant son of a bitch who opposes authority and seems to work for himself. As the movie ends, and Craig delivers the catch phrase we’ve all been longing to hear for 2 hours and 24 minutes you can see a change in the character as all that he has known has fallen apart around him, his emotional attachments severed, and his sense of duty heightened. The movie grounds itself more in reality (for the most part) with out any of the outlandish (and totally unbelievable) gadgets that cropped up in the ladder installments of the series. The gadgets that you do find here are entirely possibly in the real world, as is the rest of the film.
Everything about the film was in question two years ago and now, 24 months later, the only question we have is how long until we get to see 007 on the big screen again. Casino Royale is good, scary good, so good in fact that after the credits began to roll with the familiar theme in the background all I could think about was if there was another showtime tonight and how do I get tickets.
With so many excellent parts to the film it’s nearly impossible to touch on them all, but Casino Royale is a film that needs to be experienced by both fans and non-fans of the franchise. Thinking of it as an introduction to the spy movie genre or an extension of a 40 year franchise, either way Casino Royale ranks as one of the best times you will have at the movies and easily the best film of 2006.
See it once, then see it again. His name is Bond, James Bond, and he’s back and better than ever.