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Casino Royale (2006)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"At Last, A Bond Film That Has Been Shaken And Stirred"
4 stars

Although the notion of a James Bond film stripped of the elaborate gadgets, megalomaniacal villains and campy one-liners has struck some people as anathema, it isn’t the first time that the long-running series has taken such an approach. The early Sean Connery films, for example, were relatively low-key affairs and it wasn’t until “Goldfinger” (1964) that the toys and stunts began to take precedence. As the series progressed and the films became more and more over-the-top, they would occasionally pause for a more restrained entry to make up for the excesses of previous installments–the straightforward “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) was consciously designed as a rejoinder to the outer-space silliness of “Moonraker” and the two underrated Timothy Dalton films, “The Living Daylights” (1987) and “License to Kill” (1989) took a stark approach that was a 180-degree turn from the silliness of the later Roger Moore films.

With “Casino Royale,” the latest Bond entry, the producers have made a conscious effort to reboot the franchise in a more realistic manner in direct opposition to the bigger, faster, louder, dumber aesthetic that dominated such recent films as “The World Is Not Enough” (which offered us the sight of Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist) and “Die Another Day” (which provided the only slightly more plausible sight of an invisible car). Whether they did this in an effort to reduce the skyrocketing costs or because they realized that their patented brand of epic adventure was getting a little stale at a time when eye-popping spectacles have become almost a weekly occurrence at the multiplex I cannot say. I can say, though, that the decision to go this route was an inspired one and while the results may not rank on the level of “Goldfinger” or “From Russia With Love,” it is easily the best Bond film to come along in quite a while.

Based on Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel (which was never made into an official Bond film, though there was a strange TV adaptation featuring an American agent named Jimmy Bond and an overstuffed 1966 spoof that featured five directors, an army of screenwriters, many of the world’s most beautiful women and only the briefest traces of wit), “Casino Royale” takes a “Batman Begins” approach to the character that purports to explain how he became the caustic and cool superspy that we know and love. After a prologue that shows Bond (Daniel Craig) earning his 00 license to kill, he is sent off to Uganda to try to get information on a secret terrorist network and thanks to his headstrong nature, he more or less blows everything and causes an international incident in the bargain. After being dressed down by boss M (Judi Dench), Bond decides to pursue a lead on his own that leads him bedding the wife of a henchman (Caterina Murino), who pays the price for such behavior, and preventing an airplane bombing in Miami.

It turns out that the man responsible for the bombing was Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a private banker who makes his living holding and investing the money belonging to the world’s most nefarious terrorist groups. Unfortunately for him, he used over $100,000,000 of terrorist money shorting airline stock on the assumption that it would crash in response to the bombing and wound up losing it all. In an effort to get it back, Le Chiffre arranges for an ultra-high-stakes private game of Texas Hold’Em (apparently baccarat was just too sissified for today’s audiences) on the assumption that his skills at the game will allow him to win the money back before his investors get wind of what has happened. Because Bond is apparently the best poker player in the British Secret Service, he is entered into the game and sexy government banker Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is sent along to keep an eye on the money. Most of the middle is taken up by the increasingly tense game in which Bond and Le Chiffre try to outbluff each other as the stakes, monetary and otherwise, grow higher and higher. However, non-poker players will be relieved to learn that once the game ends, the film then dedicates itself to the usual array of car chases, crumbling buildings, brutal fight scenes and one agonizing torture scene in which Bond is repeatedly brutalized in the one portion of the male anatomy that no man would want to have brutalized if he was planning on pursuing any sort of relationship with someone resembling Eva Green.

Right from the start, “Casino Royale” takes pains to separate itself from the other Bond films. Instead of giving the action scenes the kind of high-gloss polish that we have become accustomed to over the years, director Martin Campbell (who previously directed 1995's “Goldeneye”) has gone for a grittier, in-your-face approach–nearly all the battles are staged in tight, enclosed spaces–that makes the fight scenes look and feel like genuinely painful brawls instead of highly choreographed production numbers. Along those same lines, the film generally avoids complicated special effects and computer graphics in order to give the scenes a more immediate impact. Arguably the most impressive such sequence in the film comes early as Bond pursues a suspect through the skeleton of a skyscraper under construction that turns into a stunning demonstration of parkour, a martial art in which people scramble up walls and through windows with cat-like grace. (If you saw the thrilling French import “District B13"–and you probably didn’t–you saw parkour in all its glory.) This sequence is so astounding, in fact, that even a climax that features Bond battling his way out of a sinking building in Venice winds up paling in comparison.

As the latest James Bond, Daniel Craig is an interesting choice for the role and what would seem like limitations–his rough demeanor and relative lack of charm–are actually closer to what Fleming had in mind when he first devised the character. Besides, it is important to remember that this James Bond is not the roguish quipmeister that we have come to know and love over the years but the unformed personality that will one day grow into that character. In fact, there are moments here and there, especially towards the end, where you begin see to see glimmers of Sean Connery’s slyer portrayal in Craig’s approach and if he properly develops that aspect in balance with his own hard-boiled take, he could well become the best Bond since Connery. As Vesper Lynd, Eva Green may have the heart-stopping good looks of a typical Bond Girl (and let me take this opportunity to curse Eon Productions and their insistence on keeping the nudity at PG-13 levels–if ever there was an actress who simply wasn’t meant for the confines of PG-13, it is Eva Green) but she can also act as well, which is a not inconsiderable asset since her character winds up becoming more complicated and nuanced as the story progresses. More importantly, she and Craig strike up a nice, flirty rapport that has them steaming up the screen even while they are both fully dressed in eveningwear (Again, curse you PG-13!) and when they are together, they give “Casino Royale” something that hasn’t been seen in a Bond film since the days of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”–a genuine emotional heart.

“Casino Royale” has its share of flaws–it runs on too long for its own good (we are nearly an hour into the film before the main plot begins to kick in), there is far too much on-screen discussion about Bond being too cold and emotionally detached for his own good (although I can’t prove, this touchy-feely gibberish has the thuddingly literal fingerprints of co-writer Paul Haggis all over it) and don’t get me started on the hideous theme song contribution from Chris Cornell. While these flaws might have crippled a lesser Bond vehicle, they don’t do that much damage this time around because for the first time in years, you get the sense that the producers are genuinely trying to make a good film instead of just rehashing the old elements for the umpteenth time. “Casino Royale” has a life and energy to it that will thrill long-times fans and newcomers alike and when the end credits again announce that “James Bond Will Return,” for once that message comes across as a promise instead of a threat.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15275&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/17/06 01:11:06
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User Comments

1/20/20 The BIg D. In case you didn't figure it out, Le Chiffre was hitting Bond where it counts with the rope 2 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell boring sorry 2 say 1 stars
7/28/13 Free dating sites Hi there, I have got to declare, I enjoy your site. The colorings, the layout, the overall 5 stars
7/05/13 Hardric Realistic? In real life Bond wouldn't last 5 minutes. 2 stars
3/24/13 KingNeutron Craig brings an interesting take to the character - pretty good poker movie, + Green is HOT 4 stars
9/02/12 roscoe 3 great action scenes, but too long, too much romance, too much poker = boring too often 3 stars
10/22/09 Rachel Worth the investment. Awesome movie. 5 stars
8/29/09 Jeff Wilder Craig best Bond since Connery. Movie best Bond since the Dalton days. 5 stars
6/06/09 R.W.Welch Best Bond flick in a while. Craig has the right stuff. 4 stars
5/21/09 Matt In 20 years this will be a classic. the best written bond and hugely entertaining. 5 stars
4/13/09 dt Bond fans get hit in the "nuts" with this offering. Bond wit is replaced with pure grit. 1 stars
3/16/09 Monday Morning Craig isn't a terribly compelling Bond. 3 stars
2/14/09 WiseGuy The gambling ruined the movie, too boring, and too long 1 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. daniel craig is a great bond! 4 stars
12/04/08 how can i improve my credit score credit check companies 2 stars
11/25/08 Leo T I like a little darker Bond... but a Bond movie without the humor unthinkable... 3 stars
11/13/08 The Dork Knight Nice balance of realism and nods to the old movies 5 stars
8/03/08 Flounder The best James Bond movie of all time. Ranking right up there with Goldfinger and OHMSS 5 stars
7/31/08 ben dover chris f more like fucking stevie wonder daniel craig is an amazing actor 5 stars
7/23/08 chris f very dissapointed a very poor portrayal of bond 1 stars
5/28/08 MDH-Matt Daniel Craig dispensed naysayers in this, easily one of the best films of 2006 5 stars
3/02/08 ladavies Daniel Craig could have been my 2nd favorite Bond, but he was pussy whipped in this 4 stars
3/01/08 Ivana Mann One of the best action movies of the decade.Expertly acted, paced, and executed. Bravo! 5 stars
2/04/08 FILM REVIEWER Boring and repugnant 1 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White good action but Craig is not the most alluring Bond 3 stars
12/08/07 Sam Eli The Best Bond Movie Since Goldfinger Action Packed, Fastly Paced and a Great Turn by Craig 4 stars
11/10/07 g webster the way Fleming wrote it,ruthless and non stop action 5 stars
9/03/07 johnnyfog No stupid gadgets this time. Just bullets. 4 stars
7/06/07 olias terrific script,terrific acting by the two leads.best ever action sequences 5 stars
6/02/07 F-Off Execs Better than any Bronsen Bond film, no dumb execs wrecking it? 4 stars
5/03/07 Matt No Q, no Moneypenny? Never mind, this rawer Bond minus the trickery works. 4 stars
4/28/07 Geraldine This movie sold me on the Bond franchise. 5 stars
4/22/07 Chris Redmond Quite simply, the best Bond since the Connery days. 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK How about they just stop making Bond films? 2 stars
4/16/07 Indrid Cold Clearly one of the best Bond films in a long time, but doesn't live up to the enormous hype 4 stars
3/31/07 fools♫gold Either I'm an unthoughtful prick, or this film just pretends to be clever. 1/5 or 2/5. 1 stars
3/25/07 Bobo All the Craig-haters are eating their words. This film kicks ass. 5 stars
3/24/07 Hoosier Chick just watched the DVD, Daniel Craig is perfect successor to Connery 5 stars
3/19/07 LIndsay Lowhound New Bond is as violent as Steven Seagal, as inscrutable as Jackie Chan. 3 stars
3/17/07 AJ Muller Craig is the best since the early Connery, and the flick is the best Bond EVER. Kickass. 5 stars
3/17/07 Nick One of the best, if not the best, Bond movies ever. 5 stars
3/16/07 Charles Tatum The best Bond of the past twenty years 5 stars
3/13/07 action movie fan great action,sets,locales and characters, but abit hard to follow 4 stars
3/07/07 Ann Coulter's evil twin M must speak for whole 007 series when she says, "How I miss the cold war!". 3 stars
2/28/07 Beau Daniel Craig is an outstanding 007! a great movie to add to the sequel 4 stars
2/19/07 ad The best and most believable BOnd ever 5 stars
1/30/07 Albert Stone A more human Bond, and good acting on the whole. A bit too long though. 4 stars
1/29/07 George Finally a watchable Bond movie 4 stars
1/20/07 David A. Well done adventure, and nice to know even James Bond made a few mistakes when he was young 4 stars
1/19/07 Peter Rubbish, far too long 1 stars
1/18/07 Red Dragon This film was awesome; Daniel Craig - Wow! 5 stars
1/14/07 Farnqwo This is crap.... good crap by todays standards. I love 007's new bottom lip! 3 stars
1/11/07 rory rantabulous 5 stars
1/08/07 Stefan Halka Finally, after 20 years, a good Bond. 4 stars
1/06/07 Yorkee YES - Well Done Craig, easily the toughest and meanest Bond. 5 stars
1/05/07 Tim the Enchanter Craig is good, but the movie is better. Darker and grittier than most Bond, but its cooler. 5 stars
12/28/06 rick gardiner Craig brought acting to new level. Should be nomimated for oscar. 5 stars
12/27/06 Man out 6 bucks Bond is back! 5 stars
12/23/06 pin Action is good but, Bond plays Texas Hold'em? - FOREVER - uh, no. 2 stars
12/21/06 Thomas Wynn Daniel Craig is good as Bond. 4 stars
12/18/06 moon EXCELENT debut as Bond good action qnd a good plot 5 stars
12/18/06 John A. Miller No not quite Sean Connery but the best Bond since. 4 stars
12/17/06 Ellen Lopes Great movie! Before this one I thought Bond was a chauvinistic pig! 5 stars
12/17/06 amber young Oh God Daniel Graig is so HOT - sizzling hot Best Bond along with Sean, but so today!!. 5 stars
12/15/06 Richard Paquette Welcome back, 007!!! 4 stars
12/13/06 Derek Tribe Great Bond action...Criag is rock solid as Bond. 4 stars
12/12/06 adslut Daniel Craig is the best BOND and he's hot! 5 stars
12/12/06 jdean62 Yes its true.. the best BOND yet...IM not a Bond groupie but loved this film ! 5 stars
12/11/06 The Deadly Assasin One of the best 007 films ever !!! If you don't like this , rent xXx !!! 5 stars
12/11/06 mckorb Best bond film in years ... 5 stars
12/10/06 Wendy Straw Awesome 4 stars
12/09/06 laura leigh ooooh Daniel Craig is yummy! I can't stop thinking about him! 5 stars
12/08/06 Helen A Bradley Too vilent, too long, Judi Dench needs new teeth 1 stars
12/08/06 BrianDePalma Another Bond shhit. Actions were so bad. Overrated garbage 1 stars
12/08/06 Odie Craig's cold bastard psychology makes us believe that Bond is an assassin. 5 stars
12/07/06 UGB Has the potential to be a good Bond - Great film 5 stars
12/06/06 Nighy I have the title for the next film - PUSSYBOND! 1 stars
12/05/06 dingle great film 5 stars
12/04/06 Shaggy This movie stays true to the franchise in every way. 5 stars
12/04/06 DeepPan#77 The bond movie that kills the franchise 1 stars
12/03/06 shashank movie was awesome,sexy,& wonderful compared to his previous movies. 5 stars
12/02/06 stuart & sarah lane awesome, Craig has re-invented James Bond for the 21st C awesome stuff ,brilliant script 5 stars
12/01/06 Morris Stone Finally !! Awesome, believable, and classy. 5 stars
12/01/06 shagtex he's not Connery but he may be the next best 4 stars
12/01/06 Richard Diangelo Roger Moore is the only real Bond,Brosnan and his clown make a mockery of the role! 1 stars
11/30/06 Mark Lawrence A great story which Thrills from beginning to end 5 stars
11/29/06 Drew Galletti I was very happy with this movie, though I could just be geeking out 5 stars
11/29/06 rach this is a mint film, i would recommend it to any1, whether they like bond or not!! 5 stars
11/28/06 actorbot I'm a great fan of Sean Connery but, boy this guy is good. 5 stars
11/28/06 Erin This film has everything! Daniel Craig is the best bond yet. Thank you for making him real! 5 stars
11/28/06 Dottie AWESOME...riveting on all levels, could barely contain myself in my theatre seat.!! 5 stars
11/27/06 jrod101 BEST. BOND. EVER. 5 stars
11/27/06 Chris Bellman It sucked, No gadgets, no car gadgets, that's Bond not a love story. 1 stars
11/27/06 Louise Craig is superb, great casino scenes, but didn't like Eva Green 4 stars
11/26/06 mlg didn't like it 2 stars
11/26/06 MaggieH GREAT!!!! 5 stars
11/26/06 mat crap no gadgets bond without gadgets un heard of 2 stars
11/26/06 Bitchflaps Too long, cheesy script and no suspense. Craig and Dench are superb though. 2 stars
11/26/06 Nick Loved the first half! Great Promo for the sport Parkour! Jumping and climbing buildings! 4 stars
11/26/06 Matt excellent film really enjoyable 5 stars
11/25/06 James Yacobacci Never thought I'd say it - better than Connery! 5 stars
11/25/06 Dan A great action film, it gets a little too long at the end, but definately worth seeing it. 4 stars
11/25/06 piers Excellent and i have seen all 10 out of 10# 5 stars
11/25/06 kerr crap 1 stars
11/25/06 earl hofert fun. 4 stars
11/25/06 Anthony Feor Its a great movie, but why did it have to be a prequel 4 stars
11/25/06 G.T. If you actually like Fleming's novels, you'll love this film! Read the books! 5 stars
11/25/06 Todd Craig is a fucking badass! Best Bond Ever! 5 stars
11/24/06 pete.chesworth new bond superb but the film did tail off as little bit with a bit of needless soppiness. 4 stars
11/24/06 Maverick Started off ok then gets really boring, card game runs far too long. 2 stars
11/24/06 chris f great bond film craig is definetly better than connery 5 stars
11/24/06 Charlene Javier Best Bond film in years. 5 stars
11/23/06 matt Teriffic action and performances, but weak plot structure. Still better than that DAD p.o.s 4 stars
11/23/06 giddo Digger has not seen the film as his mum would not let him! Great Film! DC is great! 5 stars
11/23/06 dani Riveting!Craig may not be the best looking JB,but he's the best Bond iv seen.More!! 5 stars
11/22/06 E An unexpected pleasure - SMERSH was real btw 4 stars
11/22/06 Rosalie This is a very sexy movie! Loved it. 5 stars
11/22/06 Brian Mckay Great first half, then runs out of steam. Trying to cram too much into one film. 3 stars
11/21/06 TONY DOYLE Wish I hadnt wasted my Bandwidth.Total Shite 1 stars
11/21/06 Rev. Marc Fuller Finally Ian Flemmings Bond has come to the screen. Well done Daniel craig. 5 stars
11/21/06 jdean62 Not a fan of BOND... but after seeing Daniel Craig... loved it... cant wait til the next! 4 stars
11/21/06 JM Synth Much better than any of the Brosnan ones, but lets not go nuts 4 stars
11/21/06 tekmage Possibly the best Bond EVER...definately not slow at all, I loved the action, old school! 5 stars
11/21/06 ad it's ok to have high expectations. Rob G is right but outweighed by Craig's performance 5 stars
11/21/06 Jiz Awesome until like 45 minutes in, then it just DRAGGED ON big time. Rob's review nails it. 3 stars
11/21/06 J.R. Different, but excellent. 5 stars
11/20/06 Bird Best Bond since Connery - Excellent 5 stars
11/20/06 Luisa Great stunts, well done Daniel Craig...Jeffrey Wright was under-used. 4 stars
11/20/06 Bond Rocks I expected more seduction scenes and more gadgets, otherwise it was excellent! 4 stars
11/20/06 Ken E Craig nailed it. Best bond yet. First bond film I have ever wanted to go back & see again. 5 stars
11/20/06 Tim Two words: Chick Flick 2 stars
11/20/06 Benoit D What a deception So boring 1 stars
11/20/06 Liz D Best Bond movie Ever, Wll done to Daniel Craig 5 stars
11/19/06 007 1/2 Only gripe - M for continuity. But this longtime Bond fan loved the movie - great restart!! 5 stars
11/19/06 Jason Stringer Everything a Bond film should be. SUPERB 5 stars
11/19/06 socrates17 The only real (ie Ian Fleming) JB film ever. 5 stars
11/19/06 Graham Messy third act, but a more-than-promising new beginning - for Craig, and the whole series 4 stars
11/19/06 mister stupid after 40 years, a real james bond again. brosnan and moore are a pair of vaginas 5 stars
11/18/06 Wayne S. Excellent job by Craig, but FORCED romance with NO chemistry. 4 stars
11/18/06 Wayne S. Very good Bond film, craig was very intense as a young Bond, but I thought that there was n 4 stars
11/18/06 50send At last a Bond who looks like he could do some damage ! 5 stars
11/18/06 Kevin A welcome reinvention. Watch Bond go from a lump of raw iron to tempered British steel. 4 stars
11/18/06 Elizabeth I was confident Craig would be an excellent Bond -- and he is! 4 stars
11/18/06 Alex jones well well well i love the sexy james bong! hubba hubba but i h8 the movie ! booooooooooooo 1 stars
11/18/06 Randy L Well done 5 stars
11/18/06 Mike D. Very different, yet very satisfying! 4 stars
11/18/06 prashanth great stunts fine acting but thewrong casting 4 stars
11/18/06 Fringe Went to the theater planning on hating it but I absolutely loved it. 5 stars
11/18/06 Ole Man Bourbon Just a total stupid POS movie. Crap plot, crap action. Craig was pretty good though. 2 stars
11/18/06 Quigley Daniel Craig was superb as "Bond, James Bond." First action scene made the movie; too long 4 stars
11/17/06 Raymond Scott Where's Timothy Dalton when we need him? 2 stars
11/17/06 kenkhoo A gripping roller coaster of action, suspense, drama, romance, deception & emotion. 5 stars
11/17/06 BK Total waste of money. I wish I could rate it 0. 1 stars
11/17/06 Jack Sommersby Lumbering and dull and overlong. A real disappointment. 2 stars
11/17/06 annie By jove, I think he's got it! Bond is back! 5 stars
11/17/06 James Hamster What can I say, where can I start, I was anti DC, but now I'm a believer, well done my boy 5 stars
11/17/06 robert bond fans have needed this for a long time- Craig is giving Connery a run for his money... 5 stars
11/17/06 ProSneakyD DC is the new bond and is perfect for this is a terrific film, Flemming would be happy. 5 stars
11/17/06 Ben Smith unbievable, best bond since connery 5 stars
11/17/06 sj Bond the way he was meant to be. Viva! 5 stars
11/16/06 Digger James Bond is such a pussy. I can't believe people actually still watch this shit. 1 stars
11/16/06 Joe Dickson Somewhere up there, I hope, Sir Ian Flemming is smiling. At last they finally got it right. 5 stars
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  17-Nov-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Mar-2007



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