Casino Royale was the soft reboot that finally brought realism back to the Bond franchise. Despite being the twenty-first film in the long running franchise, Casino Royale is actually based on the 1st book written by Ian Fleming. The story itself has been adapted two times before. The first time was actually in 1954. As an episode of a forgotten anthology series titled Climax! The second time was as that lousy 1967 parody film. Eon Productions was finally able to use the name in 1999.
Pierce Brosnan was intended to return, but since he had just turned 50, he knew he was officially too old. So the search was on for a new Bond. Ultimately, the sixth actor to portray Bond became British actor Daniel Craig. He was met with immediate criticism for being too blonde and too ugly to play the tall, dark, and handsome spy, but he proved everybody wrong. After the CGI heavy Die Another Day, the goal was to bring 007 back to the grit of Fleming’s intention. Q and his Gadgets were out, Felix Leiter is now black, Moneypenny was out, but thankfully, Judi Dench wasn’t out as M…
The Mission: Play a high stakes poker game and topple the terrorists responsible
Gadgets & Vehicles: Explosive Keychain, Phone Detonator, Portable Implant Equipment, Bug & Earpiece, Field Medical Kit
Bond Girls: Vesper Lynd, Solange, Valenka
Bond Villains: Le Chiffre, Mr. White, Alex Dimitrios, Dryden, Kratt, Leo, Adolph Gettler, Steven Obanno, Mollaka
Analysis: A reboot to the Bond franchise seemed like a bad idea, but the floating timeline begged the differ. It was hard to believe the 007 in Die Another Day shared the same history as the 007 in Dr. No. It’s why so many people believe the name James Bond is just a code name. Casino Royale instead takes place at the beginning of Bond’s career. In the process of obtaining his license to kill and 00 status. The only conflicting factor is that M is still played by Dame Judi Dench, but it would have been a shame to let her go. The film is the first not to begin with the gun barrel sequence. Instead the sequence is cleverly incorporated into the story. After Bond makes his first kill for MI6.
Followed by an opening credits sequence in the style of casino playing cards (with an unsettling lack of naked silhouettes). Chris Cornell performs a theme titled “You Know My Name.” It fits the character, but I wouldn’t call it memorable. Bond is tasked with putting a stop to the financing of terrorist activities by banker Le Chiffre. The often villainous Mads Mikkelsen plays the Bond villain. He’s best recognized by his damaged left eye that requires him to use an inhaler. His lady love and henchwoman Velenka is always by his side. Bond plays Le Chiffre in a stressful high-stakes poker game that nearly costs him his life. Gadgets are used sparingly in favor of old fashion stunts and action that makes Casino Royale one of the best Bond’s ever made.
It’s best set pieces include the parkour fight and the Aston Martin car crash. Martin Campbell (director of GoldenEye) knows how to reintroduce 007. Daniel Craig may not have a pretty face, but he is ripped. In a strangely sexualized way (along with a disturbing testical related torture scene). Bond attracts poker wife Solange, but most importantly, he falls in love with one of the strongest Bond girls yet, Vesper Lynd. Played by the always seductive Eva Green. Vesper finances the game and tragically dies a watery death. It’s not until the very end when Craig says “The name’s Bond, James Bond,” that I was officially sold on his more brutal portrayal of 007. Casino Royale is an ace in the ever growing Bond film deck.
James Bond will return in Quantum of Solace