Archive Review: Casino Royale (2006)

The first of Daniel Craig’s outings as James Bond and Probably still my favourite, here we get an origin story of sorts and a new take on an old character

Certificate: 12A

Director: Martin Campbell

Screenwriter: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench

Genre: Action, Thriller

Runtime: 144 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Recently promoted to 00 Status, James Bond is sent on his first mission.  To take part in a high stakes poker game set up by Le Chiffre, a banker for terrorists who needs to win the game in order to get back his client’s money he recently lost.  With the help of recurring character Felix Leiter and beautiful treasury liaison Vesper, Bond has to out play Le Chiffre and claim the money for the British government.  But along the way he will learn the most important information of all, that you cannot ever really trust anyone.

He we were introduced to much less refined James Bond than the one that we are used to seeing.  He is a lot rougher around the edges, not quite so smooth or suave as previous incarnations of the character.  And I think the character is more interesting for it.  The old chauvinist vision of the character, although not entirely wiped away completely, was getting a little outdated for this day and age and needed an upgrade. That angle will never disappear entirely of course, Bond is nothing without his multitude of Bond Women, but this version of the character is a lot more reminiscent of modern-day action heroes.

At first read, the idea of a Bond film where the majority of the stakes revolve around a game of poker sounds terribly dull.  And yes, I do think this film does go on a bit.  But even during those poker playing scenes, there is enough else going on at the same time that the film never feels boring or slow.  The real action and tension begins after the game is finished and you think it is time to start winding down.  And that is a great bluff to lull the audience into a false sense of security.  Not only does this film have one of the most uncomfortable torture scenes I have ever seen, but the plot twist at the end is completely heart breaking and you do not see it coming at all.

Daniel Craig and Eva Green both give great performances here and there chemistry on screen is delightful.  It is refreshing to see a woman give Bond a dressing down every now and then when he deserves it rather that just following him around with doe eyes, a woman other than M that is, and Green can really hold her own.

There were a few missteps for this franchise after this offering, but this is still my favourite of Craig’s Bond films, and I don’t think that will be changing any time soon.

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