Casino Royale (2006)
This new jumpstart to the James Bond series was a shocking surprise to many a cynic (myself included) who complained that Daniel Craig was an odd choice to play James Bond. We were used to Bond being tall, dark and handsome, not blonde, rough and rugged but boy were we in for a surprise when Casino Royale hit the big screen. Suddenly Craig’s name was being named alongside that of Connery’s and Moore’s as the de facto James Bond. The hardcore Bond fans compared him to the James Bond of Ian Flemming’s book, and Bond haters became Bond fans overnight.
There is one scene where the BEAUTIFUL Solange (Caterina Murino) emerges on horseback unto the beach and one little boy chasing her is grinning from ear to ear. I thought this shot to be well thought out and perfect, as it reflected the expressions on every man’s face within the theater. – Greg Dragon
The reason for the success of Casino Royale was due to a few things: realism, reinvention and the familiarity of the Poker game of Texas Hold’Em. Like George Lazenby’s version of the spy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we are shown a human Bond, not the superhero of the other movies and after the Brosnan span of movies, this one comes as a refreshing surprise. James isn’t chasing tail like we are used to him doing, clues don’t fall out of thin air and his relationship with M (Judi Dench) is shown to be more Matriarchal rather than the master/servant versions of the Connery/Moore Bonds or the adversarial hate that Brosnan’s Bond had with M.
Another parallel to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is that we see James actually fall in love with a woman outside of sleeping with her merely for the mission. Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is a sharp, vulnerable and beautiful woman, whose complexity not only attract James but makes him give it all up unlike we’ve ever seen him. This restart to James Bond is a positively perfect one as newcomers will embrace Craig’s superb acting of the spy (the man’s facial expressions under duress is classic). They will appreciate a great villain in the mathematical Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) and identify more with the new version of Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) moreso than other versions of him in the past.
I have made the statement in the past that “this Bond is for hardcore fans only, newcomers ought not apply” due to the enormous amount of cheesy camp or awful writing that plagued the script. THIS James Bond however is for everyone, and if a newcomer isn’t a fan of the spy and his original “Vesper Martini” by the time the credits roll, then they ought to leave the entire series alone. This, my dear readers is James Bond, he is the Bond of the year 2000+ and he is the Bond that has restarted a dying series. Bravo Daniel Craig, I hope you stick it out for a legacy comparable to that of Sean Connery’.
Bond-o-meter Score (ranges from 1-10)
James Bond (10): A blonde Bond with steely blue eyes… who woulda thought? But oh how it works!
Story (10): The classic card game mixed in with an elaborate plot of money laundering. At the same time you have the emergence of 007, his first love and a sinister organization in the shadows.
Bond Girl (8): Vesper was such a woman it was just too real, her coy demeanor mixed in with her humble beauty makes her one of the better Bond girls. I truly missed her in Quantum of Solace.
The Villain (10): Cocky, cold-blooded and crying blood. Le Chiffre has got to be one of the best Bond villains to cross the deadly super-spy.
Spicy Bonus (10): I just love this movie, the rollercoaster of emotions that James goes through throughout the entire film, combined with kickass action scenes and a top notch story makes it damn near perfect. Not to mention it has one extremely beautiful woman in Solange (Caterina Murino) … oh.. my… god.. HOT! Casino Royale is my favorite Bond movie.