This new take on the existing franchise of the famous British spy series created by Ian Fleming has made James Bond, the secret service agent, as a more human and emotional driven character. Casino Royale is based on Fleming’s first novel in which we see Bond earning his ‘double-0’ status and the license to kill.
The film opens with an atmospheric black and white sequence in which Bond brutally kills his first victim in a blood-strewn public toilet. This action scene alone reveals the character we are all familiar with has become a more tougher, no-nonsense kind of guy who doesn’t give a damn what everyone thinks.
The film immediately proceeds to a dramatic and exciting chase scene across Madagascar between Bond (Daniel Craig) and a bomb-maker, which ends up in a disaster. Reprimanded by M (Judi Dench) for his recklessness, Bond takes matters into his own hands and heads to Bahamas where he sees a possible lead in terrorism.
Eventually this leads him to Casino Royale in Montenegro where he plays a high-stakes poker game against Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), with the hopes of making the terrorism investments go bad while being paired with the sultry Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) as a secret agent for the British treasury.
When Daniel Craig was first announced to be the new actor portraying James Bond last year, many critics were complaining that he wasn’t the right choice. Some were saying he was “too blonde” and “bland.” And yet, in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig has proved these doubters wrong with an exceptional performance in the lead role.
His on-screen presence is truly spectacular. From the moment he steps out of the sea in a similar way to Ursula Andress in Dr. No, the new physic of Bond, with the pumping thighs, bulging pecs and inflated ego shows a new side to the character. I believe Daniel Craig’s portrayal is as good or better than Sean Connery – who is considered to be the best Bond over the years.
Director Martin Campbell – who worked on his first Bond film with Pierce Bronsan back in 1995 with GoldenEye – has created a beautiful look to the film with exotic locations and dramatic action pieces. Working with Paul Haggis excellent script (who also wrote the 2006 Oscar-winning Crash), it’s interesting how Campbell has forced this new Bond movie as ‘back to basics’ without any aid of gadgets.
Speaking of action sequences, these were all done for real, ignoring all CGI and green screen technology to create more ‘realism’. To be honest, it works spectacular well especially the Miami airport scenes.
As for Bond’s love interests, he has two on offer, the lovely Solange (played by Caterina Munro) and Vesper Lynd (featuring the gorgeous Eva Green). Of the two Bond girls, it is Eva who gets more screen time in which she brings a highly intellectual charm coupled with just the right amount of fragility. Her chemistry with Craig, though, is a bit too enhanced by the script’s romantic angle that veers dangerously close to getting the better of the movie’s overall dynamism. This was the only criticism I had; these scenes when Bond professed his love to Vesper after recovering from his (naked) torture seemed to drag on a bit too much…
Despite that and with a running time a little over two hours, the climactic showdown in the canals of Venice feels less exciting than it could have been. But in the end, Craig and Campbell give enough reason for one to overlook such faults. Through their recreation of the legendary role, the gamble on showing Bond’s first mission, as a secret agent making his break, seems to pay off and I’ll look forward to his next, new mission in 2008.