USA/UK/Germany/Czech Republic 2006
Director: Martin Campbell
As someone who grew up watching James Bond (Roger Moore was my favourite, don’t ask me why), I found myself less and less satisfied with the recent Bond films. Goldeneye was excellent, don’t get me wrong, but after that things just sort of fell apart. Plots got sillier and sillier, gadgets and special effects spun out of control, and Bond himself started becoming a live-action cartoon. Thankfully, everything changes with Casino Royale, starting with the man himself, Daniel Craig.
I know there were a lot of people opposed to Craig as Bond (seemingly simply because he has blonde hair), but I knew going into it that he had what it takes to bring Bond back to basics. The Bond from Fleming’s novels is not a nice guy: he’s a ruthless trained killer. Craig brings a quiet intensity and razor-sharp determination to the role, giving Bond an edge not seen since Timothy Dalton. This version of Bond is also the toughest to date, with Craig showing amazing physical charisma. For instance, I can actually see Craig’s Bond as a former SAS man, unlike Moore’s gentleman charmer.
Along with Daniel Craig’s excellent performance, the supporting cast delivers as well. Eva Green parries back and forth with Craig, never falling into the typical Bond girl trap of all style no substance. Mads Mikkelsen plays his role perfectly, a sinister gambler with a waxy poker face. Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, a supporting Bond character left idle too long, is also quite good; I just wish we could’ve seen more of him.
The action in Casino Royale is exciting and believable, with standouts being the incredible free-running chase through a construction site and tense embassy confrontation. None of the stunts seem forced or unrealistic, as in Die Another Day. Director Campbell keeps the film grounded at all times and this pays off in credibility.
I think that’s the keyword of Casino Royale: credibility. The previous Bond films had lost it but Campbell and Daniel Craig have managed to return the Bond franchise (or a reboot as some people are calling it) to former glory. If the forthcoming films can maintain this quality and credibility, I see a long and interesting future for 007.Colin Le Sueur