TBT: Casino Royale (2006)

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. . .as if it was going to be anything else! Or maybe the choice isn’t as obvious as I think it is. Despite the fact that 2006 doesn’t seem like much of a ‘throwback,’ per se, and that I just sent in a Guest List for the 007 Best Moments in this very film to The Cinema Monster, this still feels like one of the ultimate James Bond films.  . . a natural and perfect way to cap off a month of James Bond Throwbacks. Disagree? Well then you can do what the Puritans did: get the eff out! 😀 😀

In the spirit of getting out, indeed that is what happens today: out with the old and in with the new; a brand-spanking new style and tone to a franchise long since in decay with the advent of simply over-the-top technological devices and crummier and crummier stories. Much as I don’t want to call Brosnan one of the worst, he certainly had the unfortunate luck of being surrounded by some of the poorest material to date. 

Today’s food for thought: Casino Royale

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Status Active: November 17, 2006

[Theater]

Mission Briefing: Fresh off an assignment in which he must eliminate two targets in order to achieve double-0 status, Bond is now faced with the prospect of tracking down Le Chiffre, a cunning and merciless terrorist financier whose grip on the black market grows more powerful with each passing second. A high-stakes poker game set up in Montenegro will be Bond’s best chance of outwitting the dangerous man.

Mission Support: 

  • Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) — fiercely intelligent and every bit as poetically disdainful as the young, trigger-happy 007; represents the British treasury and keeps a watchful eye over Bond in the poker game; a close friend of 007 but whose true identity may not be entirely trusted
  • René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) — 007’s Montenegro contact and a shady fellow, also not to be entirely trusted; approach with caution
  • Solange (Caterina Murino) — girlfriend of Le Chiffre henchman Alex Dimitrios; possible distraction who could be in possession of some useful information; interrogate using any means necessary
  • Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) — American agent on behalf of the CIA
  • Alex Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian) — sinister second-tier threat to operations leaders, but is a known associate of Le Chiffre; approach with extreme prejudice
  • Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) — financier to several of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and a mathematical genius who likes to prove it playing his hand at cards; cold and emotionless, he is an excellent calculator of human behavior and persistent at getting what he wants; must be stopped at all costs
  • Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) — liaison for third-party organization whose identity is not yet identified; at this time MI6 holds Le Chiffre in higher priority than Mr. White, but he is nonetheless a figure of significance; approach with extreme prejudice

Q Branch: [ERROR – file missing]

Performance Evaluation: As if to give the Bond of old a mercy kill with this necessary re-booting of Britain’s most dangerous spy, director Martin Campbell set his sights on recapturing the cold steely pain of James Bond, bastard child and loyal protector of England. His selection of Daniel Craig and decision to dispense with much of the cheese that was beginning to bog the films down, were key in distinguishing Casino Royale as a truly compelling recounting of how Bond was born.

Not only does he wear the single-breasted Brioni dinner jacket — as noted by a certain perceptive British treasurer — with a level of disdain we aren’t used to witnessing before, but Craig’s willingness to sacrifice his body effects determination and aggression more in line with what readers of the beloved novels have consistently expected and even more consistently been denied. Not to mention, screenwriters smartly take advantage of contemporary issues such as post-September 11 paranoias and use them to champion relevance and gravitas that’s more convincing than Bond’s previous scuffles with the Soviets.

As Bond takes it upon himself to insert himself into the Bahamas and other exotic locales in an effort to track down MI6’s latest target, the man known as Le Chiffre, a brilliant and determined banker who earns his riches by funding global terrorism. Because he’s fresh on the job, M (played by Judi Dench in one of the film’s more frustrating yet ultimately understandable moves) finds herself with her hands full as she attempts to keep tabs on her fledgling 00 agent. Packed with spectacular action sequences — the opening parkour scene is particularly memorable — perhaps never more exotic locations, and possessing a refreshing level of vitality for both the character and the franchise, Casino Royale has managed to overcome the wave of skepticism initially facing it by delivering one of the sexiest and most thrilling installments yet.

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5-0Recommendation: It’s funny thinking back on the controversy surrounding the casting of Daniel Craig now, as he has continued to make the role his own ever since, following up this solid performance with equally convincing turns in Quantum of Solace and of course, most recently in Skyfall. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea; he’s certainly more callous than Brosnan and more physical and possibly more brutal than Connery, but it’s difficult to imagine the series persisting had it not been for Craig’s introduction. This first outing for him finds the spy at his most vulnerable. Anyone a fan of the books is sure to find great enjoyment in watching him develop here. Not to mention, this film suits fans of solid action films. They don’t get much better than this.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 144 mins.

Quoted:  “All right. . .by the cut of your suit, you went to Oxford or wherever. Naturally you think human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain, my guess is you didn’t come from money, and your school friends never let you forget it. Which means that you were at that school by the grace of someone else’s charity: hence that chip on your shoulder. And since your first thought about me ran to orphan, that’s what I’d say you are. Oh, you are? I like this poker thing. And that makes perfect sense! Since MI6 looks for maladjusted young men, who give little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect queen and country. You know. . .former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches.”

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Photo credits: http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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35 thoughts on “TBT: Casino Royale (2006)

  1. Pingback: TBT: Chinatown (1974) | digitalshortbread

  2. HIGH FIVE, TOM!!! I freaking LOVE this film! In fact, there’s a good chance it’ll be making an appearance on my blog soon… 😉 But anyway, excellent review! Thrilled to hear you like this one as much as I do! Daniel Craig is just…perfect. One question though: are you frustrated by Judi Dench because you’re a Bond purist (i.e. you think a dude should be in the role)? I have a friend who’s a super Bond nerd who said as much. Personally, I love her in the role. But I haven’t seen many Bond films, and I also think Dench is just a badass in general, so there’s that. Haha.

    • Judi Dench I think is a better actor in the part but as far as continuity goes, I was expecting a guy. But then again, I don’t think Bernard Lee was able to offer his services. . . . unfortunately. lol. It wasn’t so much of a distraction as just one of those — yeah, nerdy little nitpicks@!! lol. I think she’s fantastic though. Still my favorite parts of Bond history though are Bond’s interactions with Q. That shit’s always a blast. That’s the ONE gripe I have against this film, and that’s a technicality b/c this is an ‘origins’ type story, so there would be no Q branch to begin with. I just want more moments with Desmond Llewelyn!

      How much are you looking forward to Bond 24???

      • Well, admittedly, I have only seen the Daniel Craig Bond films, and I’ve never read the books, so I don’t know much in regards to Bond history…but I like Judi Dench and I like Ben Whishaw, so I’m cool with them! Lol. And I think if anybody is going to take over as M, Ralph Fiennes is an excellent choice. 🙂 I am SO looking forward to Bond 24!!! I heard it’s going to be called Devil May Care or something…?

        • oooo interesting, i like the sounds of that. I honestly have not done proper research into that. As big a Bond fan as I am, that’s quite shameful. haha!

          and yes, I’ll second that about Ben Whishaw. I mentally blocked him out earlier. he’s great here. he could be a good follow-up to Desmond. 🙂

    • Cheers Tim!!! I would agree whole-heartedly. I can’t believe there are actual skeptics to the presence of Daniel Craig. Haha he just seems perfect.

        • i know man, looking back on that it’s crazy. I guess it’s been awhile but I also don’t get why it was such a fuss at the time, either. It’s not like everyone was just DYING to keep Brosnan around. His time was up. Lol! I guess maybe it was just the fact he wasn’t as well-known at the time?

    • Right you are Mark, CR kicks infinite amounts of ass. It is even better than Moonraker, somehow. But I think that’s an interesting choice to refer to that movie: we couldn’t really get two more different 007 outings, could we? That one was over-the-top almost slapstick goofy, this one is much more dire and gritty. Love both, for two totally different reasons.

      Goes to show the range this franchise really has. I look forward to more.

    • Wow, what an introduction!!! I”m jealous. But of course you picked a good one. Now, time to start making moves elsewhere. Hopefully this whole TBT theme this month might give u some decent ideas of what to watch next. 🙂

      Haha, that wasn’t a shameless plug for my other reviews at all. . .

  3. Definitely the best Bond film I’ve seen, though, admittedly, I haven’t seen many. Craig fits the role rather snugly; gritty and uncompromising. Top work Tom!

    Adam.

    • Then you’ve seen certainly one of the best representations of the franchise, in my humble opinion Adam. CR is just freaking solid.

      Thanks very much for your kind words as always

  4. Great review Tom! This is my favourite Bond flick, it is awesome! Everything came together damn near perfectly, love it. AND it featured the hottest Bond girl, my favourite Bond of all time and Mads Mikkselsen. Come on, really? It could only be a winner. I, personally, had no issues with the length though!

    • Hey there Zoe, yes yes AND more yes!!! Casino Royale kicks too much ass, and I don’t think I have issues with the runtime. I do think back on it now and seem to think there are one or two moments of ‘false-ending’ kinds of feelings, but that’s only because Campbell gives it so much tension and there’s so much going on to love.

      Very true about Mikkelsen, I really wanted to single him out more in this review but i had to stick to the format 😛 He really is incredible and maybe one day I’ll summon up the courage to actually give The Hunt a shot. :\

      • 😀 YAY! So glad we are in agreement. It was just damn near perfect. I have actually been ITCHING to watch it again the last few weeks, but my exams were in the way. Maybe with my freedom I will go back to this and revel in the glory of it! 😛

        Mads is amazing!!!!! I do so love the format though, so I get why you couldn’t get on it more! Hmmmm, you should watch it. It was one of my top ten movies of last year, truly a brilliant one. I would love to hear your take on it!

        • Thanks, I liked getting to switch it up just for this month. I think everyone’s gonna be booing me for next month’s theme. . . .hahah! I have a feeling.

          Alright. I’ll try to make a promise to watch The Hunt. Those kinds of movies REALLY make me squirm, though! 😛

    • Hey what’s up Brian, thanks for stopping by. Glad to hear the good news about you liking CR as much as I! It’s really fantastic, isn’t it? Ah, well you can always get into more Bond if you so liked this outing. I would suggest Skyfall and a few of the older versions and skip out on Craig’s follow-up to this one. Quantum of Solace is just a waste, IMO

  5. Oh Eva Green. I’m blushing! She is still charming even as a trigger happy badass! (Watched the trailer), Unfortunately, I only remember one thought that I had about this movie. It seemed like it was supposed to end…and kept going way past the point where I was ready for it to end. Skyfall bored me to an extent despite being decent but my memory is not allowing me to recall much of these films otherwise. I think I may have liked this one better though!

    • 😦

      Casino Royale and Skyfall are like the best things ever. Why, Louie? Why? Why must your memory serve you so poorly? hahah nah. I’m not gonna force the issue. I find this film in particular to be extremely memorable, at least it lingers for me even still 9 years later. The lessons Bond had to learn here were painful and real. I loved it.

      I will agree that there’s a sense of Martin Campbell not knowing quite where to end this one, but I enjoyed every minute of this film regardless. I didn’t ever want it to end! And personally I think the very very last scene with Mr. White is superb.

      • I was kind of disappointed in the villain of Skyfall to the point where it ruined things for me. He went down so easily and Bond overcame the odds in such predictable fashion. I thought it was okay but not spectacular!

        This is unfortunate though.

      • I will say he did kind of go out a little lame. But i absolutely loved Javier Bardem in that movie, but I can also see where people find fault in his work. I can’t whatsoever. I’m one of the fortunate ones I guess who found Skyfall to be a near-masterpiece. 😀 😀

        And i wouldn’t say unfortunate, you just happen to not appreciate it quite on the same level. (Which of course, means we are now lesser friends.)

  6. This movie kicked all the right pieces of ass. Even if it was more like a Bourne movie than anything else, it was still rad. Good review Tom.

    • Damn, I need to see some of those Bourne movies, then!! (Can’t believe i haven’t.) I’d just like to think this is one badass Bond film, but if the comparison fits I can’t wait to see Matt Damon’s adventures. Thanks Dan.

    • I think it perhaps goes on a little too much but I am not of the thinking it’s tacked on. But to each their own! This movie is pretty damn long. I will say other parts could have been trimmed but pound-for-pound this is an excellent freaking James Bond movie! Glad to know Mikey’s a solid supporter of mr. Daniel Craig too. 🙂

      Your stock just rose higher in my book, buddy.

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