Movie Review: CASINO ROYALE

On October 14th, 2005, I thought Daniel Craig was all wrong for the role of James Bond. On November 14th, 2006, I discovered how wrong I was.

After playing it safe for four films with Pierce Brosnan, it was time to take a risk. We needed a new Bond, a dangerous Bond, for this grittier time in the world. You don’t often find as stark a contrast in franchise cinema than you do in Die Another Day and Casino Royale. Two movies, chronologically back-to-back, on the opposite ends of the spectrum. One is one of the worst Bond movies ever made. The other instantly became one of the best in Bond history.

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My CR Notes:

  • As great as Casino Royale is, I still miss the opening gunbarrel.
  • The black and white for the pre-title sequence really lets you know you are in for a Bond movie you’ve never seen before.
  • Craig’s Bond is so confident in that office scene.
  • When Bond kills the man in the bathroom, there’s almost a horror element to it. Listen to David Arnold’s score as Bond drowns his victim.
  • This might be the only Bond title sequence without sexy silhouette women.
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre makes for a very memorable villain. He weeps blood, he has asthma, he’s a shady banker.
  • I do like the “gambling terrorist/clients’ money in the stock market” plot line.
  • If there’s one thing you need to know about Daniel Craig as James Bond, it’s don’t touch your ear.
  • The parkour scene is easily in the top 5 ever Bond action scenes.
  • How do we know Daniel Craig is unlike any other Bond before him? I mean besides the blonde hair and his height. He bursts through a wall like the Hulk!
  • I still hear “listen to me” when that African ambassador tells Bond to let the bomb-maker go.
  • This is Judi Dench at her most M’est.
  • Craig’s Bond vs Dench’s M in her apartment ranks up there with some of the most entertaining acting duet scenes in franchise history. There’s another terrific one coming up later.
  • I know “bloody cheek” is meant figuratively. But in Craig’s case it could apply literally as well.
  • I would watch a whole movie of Bond pretending to be a hotel parking attendant.
  • If this movie is “Becoming Bond”, you truly feel it when Bond wins that poker game and takes Dimitrios’ Aston Martin.
  • Speaking of which: Bond must have two versions of the 1964 Aston Martin DB5.
  • The actor playing Dimitrios has a Borat vibe to him.
  • “Body Worlds” is one of the creepiest settings for a Bond flick.
  • I love Bond’s “look over there!” head move in order to stab Dimitrios.
  • Does M have a male Moneypenny?
  • The oil truck on the airport tarmac is reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • The other fantastic acting duet belongs to Bond vs Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. The verbal sparring match on the train shows their electric chemistry.
  • Vesper is so damn fascinating. You can understand why Bond is instantly smitten. But at which point in the film does Vesper reciprocate that feeling?
  • Stephanie Broadchest would have been a perfect Bond girl name in the 1970s.
  • Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis makes for a wonderful Bond ally and mentor.
  • Bond looking at himself in the mirror after putting on his tux is “Becoming Bond part II”.
  • Vesper is too easy of a password.
  • This movie turned me into a lover of poker. Who wouldn’t want in on that high stakes game at the casino?
  • “Becoming Bond part III” is when he orders his vodka martini.
  • Thanks to this movie, I know IZLAZ means stairs in Serbian.
  • Bond’s stairwell fight with the Ugandan warlord is brutal and a top 10 all-time fight in the series.
  • Daniel Craig gets the closest to what Ian Fleming put on the page, when a bloodied Bond stares at himself in the mirror after that stairwell brawl.
  • Very rare we see Bond lose at something. Especially when it comes to cards.
  • The other players at the card table look like something out of U.N. Poker.
  • How was Mathis so easily turned into the scapegoat?
  • Every time I watch CR, I lose count of how many times Bond flips his Aston Martin DBS V12.
  • I’m glad the producers didn’t shy away from the torture scene. It was painful to read in the novel. On screen? Even more horrifying.
  • After having your balls beaten with a rope-knot, how soon can you have sex? I feel like this could be an WebMd situation.
  • CR is one of the very few movies were we see the romantic side of James Bond.
  • Not a fan of Gettler as a last act villain. He’s no Le Chiffre.
  • Vesper’s suicide scene still haunts me. Such a powerful death. Makes 007 who he is. As Bond so bluntly states: “The bitch is dead.”
  • I think Mr. White could have made a great Blofeld-like character for the rest of Craig’s tenure as 007.
  • Sean Connery’s opening “Bond, James Bond” line in Dr. No is legendary and can’t be beaten. But Craig’s at the end of CR isn’t too far off.

 

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Bond’s coolest moment? Throwing the keys away after playing parking attendant. 

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? I know he’s in great shape, but the coming out of the water scene is a bit much.

Bond’s best line? “That last hand, nearly killed me.”

Best acting performance? It has to be Daniel Craig. He plays his Bond recklessly and with a cool confidence. 

Bond’s #MeToo #TimesUp moment? Kissing Vesper without her permission during the poker game. 

Worst line in the movie? “You didn’t bring any chocolates?”

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 35th time? When Bond is fooling around with Vesper in the hotel bed in Venice, those are stunt legs. Unless Craig has dark hairy legs?

Best action sequence? As stated before, that parkour scene is magnificent.

Who or what is the title song about? It’s about Bond discovering who he really is and explaining how he can stay so cold. 

Best looking cinematic moment? During the foot chase, that shot of Bond fighting high up on the crane overlooking the beautiful blue ocean. 

How could the villain have succeeded? First, don’t gamble with your client’s money. Secondly, never play poker when you are desperate.

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Only Daniel. The producers made the right choice. 

Does Bond ever think he might die? That scene when he is poisoned is pretty scary. He definitely thinks he is going to die. 

What would have made the movie better? Not much else. It’s nearly perfect. But how about throwing away all the “Becoming Bond” stuff and just have the Craig era as part of the entire franchise? Just an idea.

What’s in a name? Bond pretends to be professional gambler Arlington Beech for about 5 minutes. 

What’s in a title? “Casino Royale” comes from the first ever Bond novel by Ian Fleming. It took 53 years, but they finally made it. 

Drinking game: Every time playing cards are shown on the screen, take a sip of a your vodka martini…made from three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.

“WTF?!” moment: Bond sucking off the non-existent blood off of Vesper’s fingers in the shower. It’s a sweet gesture, but still. Creepy. 

Fun fact: The Asian older woman who plays poker on the yacht and at the casino is the same actress in bed with Sean Connery at the beginning of You Only Live Twice. 

Overall ranking: 3rd out of 24. 

Review synopsis: Cutting down on the eye-rolling one-liners, and eliminating the high-tech gadgets, allows Casino Royale to get at the heart of what we love about the character. Director Martin Campbell has a knack for introducing new Bond actors. Craig goes from “Can he play Bond?” to “This man was born to play Bond!” as soon as he shoots Dryden in the office and says… yes, considerably. This is an all-timer that gets better as each year passes. 

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