Sunday, May 29, 2011

Casino Royale (2006)

Director: Martin Campbell

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Everyone has a past. Every legend has a beginning. On November 17th, discover how James...became Bond.

Plot: In his first mission, James Bond must stop Le Chiffre, a banker to the world's terrorist organizations, from winning a high-stakes poker tournament at Casino Royale in Montenegro.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Oh, yeah!

After having almost completely given up on the Bond franchise after the disappointing Brosnan pictures (I didn't like any of them), CASINO ROYALE was the shot in the arm this series needed. Craig was ideal, although I was very sad that Clive Owen turned it down - he would have been a great Bond. While his physical appearance not what Ian Fleming described in his books, his persona is right on. Craig's Bond IS the literary Bond. The closest fans of the novels had previously was Timothy Dalton.

This Bond is an intelligent blunt instrument. That's his job. He's not the wisecracking playboy the movies have portrayed. I appreciate the literary and movie Bond. I'm not a one or the other kind of guy because there's plenty of room for both.

I've been there practically for opening night on nearly all the Bond pictures since probably A VIEW TO A KILL, when I was old enough to drive. Like I've said, the Brosnan films were a huge letdown, especially considering he was a great Bond except for the constant one-liners. He was too playful. So for years my expectations had been low for each new movie but there was something different in my anticipation for CASINO ROYALE. I hoped for a departure of the silly and for something more grounded in reality (kind of like the difference from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY except that I loved all but the last of the Moore films).

Everyone involved made an excellent movie and one of the best Bond pictures so far. I was blown away. I wasn't entirely sold on the romance between Bond and Vesper in that he seemed a little too quick to throw his career away for this woman. After subsequent viewings, it's growing on me and that gripe is fading.

Another nice surprise was the Chris Cornell song, "You Know My Name". LOVE IT! I recall reading a good deal of hate on it online. I don't get it. It's a great song and it fits nicely among the others. It also goes to show how shitty Madonna's "Die Another Day" song is. Fuck, that was awful. And that opening credit sequence is absolutely magnificent. David Arnold's scoring talents never cease to impress me. I'm continually grateful that he's taken the reins from the recently deceased John Barry. He's a worthy successor.

The pre-credit B&W flashback sequence of Bond earning his 007 moniker is a great introduction to the new actor as well as the post-credit on-foot chase sequence. HOLY SHIT was that badass!!!

The novel ends with Bond telling M, "The bitch is dead." Normally, I'd be disappointed that the film didn't end that way. Not only was I thrilled they had the balls to include that line near the end, the final shot of Bond doing the classic, "Bond. James Bond" and then hearing the Bond theme for the first time in the movie with the trumpets balls to the wall screaming...well, that was a brilliant fucking move. There was a roar of cheers and applause from the audience I saw it with. It was one of those rare moments where you jump up and scream, "FUCK YEAH!" CASINO ROYALE is one big, "FUCK YEAH!" and I couldn't be more pleased with this movie. Well, almost...and that's good enough.

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