I did not see Casino Royale in the theater. At the time of its release Sarah and I were moving from Barrie to Stouffville and money was tight. Also, fresh was the burn from Die Another Day and I was leery about yet another “let’s bring Bond back to Ian Fleming’s original concept” reboot. The previous attempt resulted in Disheveled Dalton.
I didn’t even have much faith with the return of GoldenEye‘s director Martin Campbell. Besides The Mask of Zorro (1998), his post GoldenEye work stunk. Do you remember Vertical Limit (2000) or Beyond Borders (2003)? Don’t worry if not.
When I finally did get to see Casino Royale, I was floored. They did it right this time.
Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale is the only one of his novels I have read. I remember how cold and distant Bond was in it, yet he falls hard for Vesper Lynd. I’ll never forget the line towards the end, “The bitch is dead.” It hit me right in the gut. I had to read the line a few times to let it sink in. I was also surprise to see it in this movie.
The big advantage Daniel Craig had in Casino Royale over Daulton in Licence To Kill, is how everyone is on the same page. The script follows the novel closer than any Bond film since the ’60s making it a better fit for Ian Fleming’s character. No one is asking him to “pop a wheelie” in a semi truck this time.
Instead, Martin Campbell gave the action what I like to call “weight.” I find a lot of action films to be “floaty”. There is no or little consequences for explosions, gun fights and general mayhem. The villain’s henchmen are only fodder who can’t shoot straight as the main cast moves on. That can be fun when the film and its characters are irreverent.
In Casino Royale, actions have consequences. When Bond gets into a hand to hand combat, his shirt is bloodied and his knuckles are banged up. When he gets into a car wreck, it knocks him out. He doesn’t step out of the vehicle unscathed and snaps a witty line. A non-perfect Bond is then allowed to make mistakes. He screws up big time at the poker table and he reads one lady completely wrong. And he has a sense of humor outside of double entendres. This all makes Bond the more interesting he has ever been before.
Bond is not the only character they got right. The villain, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) isn’t an insane misanthropic billionaire hell bent on destroying, rebooting, or even ruling the world. He is really a gambler who gets a thrill from using terrorist’s money to bet with. He is a desperate and selfish man which makes for a deadly combination.
The “Bond Girl”, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) isn’t an empty shell. So many times Bond’s fling of the film has the most fantastical and/or traumatic day of their life, only to later act like they just came back from a successful trip from the grocery store. A little tired, but a job well done. Instead, Bond needs to console a shaken Lynd who just witnessed a murder. The two hold each other fully clothed in a shower.
Now for the continuing competition with my wife, Sarah to guess how long it would take Bond to first get laid during each of these films. It was my turn to roll the dice and I got double fives. Sarah now had to decide if Bond would get laid before or after 55 minutes. She choose under.
There was a questionable moment when Bond got half naked with a terrorist’s wife about 25 minutes in, but there was no confirmation that they sealed and deals. Instead, Bond takes off once he gets the information he needs from her. Bond didn’t get close with another lady until about 90 minutes in. This means there are only 4 films left and I am three points behind! My goodness, this will be close!
Sarah – 10
Mars – 7
It took Eon Productions decades to get the rights for the novel Casino Royale sorted out. The timing couldn’t be better for this film adaptation/reboot as it was Ian Flemings first Bond adventure. Fleming was getting a feel for the character and it works well to introduce a Bond who is deeper than the 2D comic book hero he became in previous films. It isn’t a “dark” or “gritty” reboot, though. Bond isn’t full of self pity or emo angst. He just has bigger problems than fretting over his martini being stirred instead of shaken.
Get more Bond in you!
From Russia With Love
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever
Live and Let Die
The Man With the Golden Gun
The Spy Who Loved Me
For Your Eyes Only
A View To A Kill
The Living Daylights
Licence To Kill
Tomorrow Never Dies
The World Is Not Enough
Die Another Day
Quantum of Solace
Never Say Never Again