Action Movie Fanatix Review: Casino Royale

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Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Richard Branson

Director: Martin Campbell

2006  |  144 Minutes  |  PG-13

“It doesn’t bother you? Killing all those people?” – Vesper Lynd
“Well I wouldn’t be very good at my job if it did.” – James Bond

I never grew up watching James Bond movies.  Many of my friends did and always tried to get me to watch them.  I would give them a shot but they never quite clicked for me.  I played the video games like crazy and deep down knew that I should like Bond movies… I just didn’t.  Everything changed when Casino Royale hit theaters.

Casino Royale tells the story of a young James Bond (Daniel Craig) as he goes on his first mission ever as a 00 agent.  Bond is sent along with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to play in a high stakes poker game in Montenegro where he hopes to regain lost British money for MI6.  Along the way Bond falls in love with Lynd and discovers the organization behind Le Chiffre but worst of all, he learns that he can’t trust anyone.

We are all getting mighty sick and tired of reboots and remakes.  Casino Royale got in on the action early so as not to feel like it was just riding another trend.  At the same time, Casino Royale isn’t exactly a reboot.  It can very well be seen as a prequel, which is another tired trend but actually helped to breath a new life into the James Bond mythos with a less experienced Bond doing things his own way.  It actually turns the idea of a prequel on its head by showing a young, inexperienced Bond in a modern setting.  It’s a pretty cool concept actually.  No time travel or period setting necessary.  It just is what it is.  Now let’s get on with it.

With Daniel Craig I finally felt like I had a badass Bond that I could get behind.  Since its release I have come to appreciate the other Bonds in the series.  I finally “got” what James Bond is all about but I am sure that for years and years to come Daniel Craig will be the quintessential 007 for me.

Vesper Lynd is the Bond girl that started it all.  Without her there may be no other girls in James’ life.  If it weren’t for her death (7 years too late spoiler alert) he likely wouldn’t have been such a philandering ladies man for the rest of his life.  It helps to note that Eva Green looks absolutely gorgeous here.

And what’s an action movie, much less a Bond movie, without a fantastic villain.  Mads Mikkelsen fulfills this role in spades as the evil Le Chiffre.

One of James Bond’s trademarks is his awesome cars.  Because of this we spend half the movie waiting for him to finally get “his car,” an Aston Martin DBS, only to see it rolled and completely wrecked only a few minutes later.  I loved it!  It’s just so unexpected!  There goes damn near $300,000!

Speaking of riding trends, Casino Royale features a rather tense series of scenes around a poker table.  Many Bond movies feel instantly dated by the trend wave they are riding at that time but poker is such a timeless game that I don’t see Casino Royale ever feeling dated… at least for THAT reason.

Casino Royale ranks as one of, if not THE, longest Bond movies ever but you never feel it while watching.

Casino Royale also featured easily my favorite of the James Bond theme songs with Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name.”

So, as you can probably tell, I pretty much love everything about Casino Royale.  It’s just a really fantastic movie in every way, never mind its ranking among its Bond movie peers.

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