27 November 2006

Casino Royale

Casino Royale, Best Bond Ever?

I am the self-proclaimed largest James Bond fan on Earth. I am only twenty-four years old. For me, Bond fever started with Goldeneye on pay-per-view in 1996. Since then, I have seen all the films a minimum of four or five times. I have collected all the books by all the authors. I have read almost all of them. I have read the book Casino Royale many times before the movie came out. When I saw the preview and heard the reviews coming in, I knew what the torture scene was. I knew the fate of the key characters. I knew who was good and who was bad. Or did I?

With a few slight changes and updates, the new 007 film did the original story justice. Some weird things went on during this film though. The first one was easy to see. Miss Moneypenny and Major “Q” Boothroyd were nowhere to be found. There were a few places that Moneypenny could have been used in lieu of the character that was in the film. It was odd to not see Q. Though, Desmond Llewelyn was not in Dr. No or Live and Let Die either. But, Major Boothroyd did appear in Dr. No played by Peter Burton. The card game of choice was Texas Hold ‘Em instead of baccarat. And finally, during the opening credits and song, the little “music video” did not have silhouettes of women or women at all. That is not to mention that the song lacked something, too.

But before the song, the opening gambit was very enlightening. It shows James Bond, played by newcomer Daniel Craig, not yet a double-o agent making his first two kills to achieve that status. It was done in black and white to kind of give the feel of flashback. It was refreshing. This film was the story about the first mission Bond has as 007. He makes mistakes. He is not the refined, suave hitman that we have grown accustomed to over the past forty years. This was where most people did not follow. This movie helped explain why Bond is the way he is.

Casino Royale started off with a look at Le Chiffre, portrayed by Mads Mikkelson, making promises to keep money for “bad guys.” We later fins out that Le Chiffre is banker for the world’s terrorists. He puts their money in accounts and allows them access all over the world. Then, there was a tremendous free-running action scene with Bond chasing a man on foot through a construction site. It ended with a mistake by Bond. M, with Judi Dench back in the seat, then slaps him on the wrist. But not before he is able to find the next step into unraveling the mystery of what is going on.

This leads him to the Bahamas. Here, he finds the next lead in his quest. He finds a guy named Demetrius, and proceeds to play him at Texas Hold ‘Em. Bond defeats him winning his Aston Martin DB-5, right out of Goldfinger and Thunderball. After a humorous misunderstanding, Bond ends up with Demetrius’s wife. After a little “pillow talk,” Bond is off the Miami. There he thwarts a plot against an airliner. He then discovers that prior to 9/11, many shares of airline stocks were lost. Le Chiffre shorts them in the stock market to make money for himself using his clients’ money. Because of the plot against the airliner backfiring, he loses over $100 million. This leads him to host a $10 million buy-in poker game. Poker was substituted for the classic baccarat, not that anyone understood baccarat to begin with. All I know is, it has something to do with the number 9.

So, Bond is entered due to the fact that he is the best player in the agency, and he is off Montenegro to Casino Royale. On the train, we are introduced to the lovely Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green. They have a playful banter, but the bottom line is that she is from the treasury and will be fronting the money.

At the game, Bond forces Le Chiffre to lose all his money. But not before Bond loses his entire stash first and gets help from Felix Lieter, an American CIA agent that later becomes a close ally of Bond in the lore. This put Le Chiffre on the run. His clients know that he has lost all their money and will come for him. A double agent is shown and Bond is trapped after a phenomenal car accident. He is the tortured by a means straight out of the original novel.

Bond awakes to find more deception and more betrayal. In the end, Bond becomes Bond. The human emotions from the beginning are lost through the events of the film. It shows how he became the way he is. The final scene proves it all.

Ultimately, Daniel Craig has me convinced that he is the best bond since possibly Sean Connery himself. He may even be better. But, before I can make such an outlandish claim, I will have to see where he takes the character in future films. Casino Royale could possibly be the best 007 film ever made. It is better than anything Brosnan turned out, and I loved Goldeneye. It is better than both of Dalton’s attempts at the franchise. It is better than every Moore entry except maybe For Your Eyes Only, which is my current favorite. Of course, Lazenby’s only outing as the suave secret agent doesn’t even enter the same arena. So now, we are back to Connery. The newest entry in the 40-year-old franchise rivals From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball. It is by far, the best first film from any of the actors. As far as I am concerned, long live Bond, and let that Bond be Daniel Craig.

Verdict: See this at least once, I am currently planning my third trip to the cinema.

1 comment:

Megan said...

I feel that this is an appropriate entry to begin my commentary on your oh so enlightening reviews. I am forced to agree whole-heartedly with your take on the film. My first Casino Royale experience was watching the Peter Sellers spoof film, and while it was amusing and full of that card game that I couldn't understand (even after studying the Hoyle guide), it can't beat the action and intrigue of this film. Though I'm sure many people enjoyed the lack of naked silhouettes in the opening, I am not necessarily one of those people. The cards suits were a nice, and apropos replacement, but just didn't feel quite right. And do I really need to go into the joy of watching Daniel Craig, charming with a bad-boy sex appeal. *sigh* I think I need to take a moment to myself here. I can't wait for the next film. Which also means that we are need of a Bond marathon fix sooner rather than later to prepare. That said, I promise the rest of my comments will not be as long and rambling, but this one excited me.