Blond is always better.
James Bond (Daniel Craig)’s first 007 mission takes him to Madagascar where he is to spy on a terrorist, Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan). Not everything goes to plan and Bond decides to investigate, independently of MI6, in order to track down the rest of the terrorist cell. Following a lead to the Bahamas, he encounters Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian) and his girlfriend, Solange (Caterina Murino).
This was the James Bond flick that brought back James Bond after about 4 years because honestly, even though ‘Die Another Day’ was one of the highest-grossing Bonds flicks at the time, it was still pretty lame. So Hollywood finally wised up and brought back the director of ‘Goldeneye’, Martin Campbell, and probably made one of the best decisions of their lives.
Campbell is the perfect director for James Bond, especially a reboot of his story, which means he can do whatever the hell he wants without any die-hard Bond fan crying about how they are ruining the name of Bond. There’s so much action, energy, and fun to be had here with a bunch of crazy set-pieces like when Bond and some dude go parkouring around a construction site, the terrorist attempt on the airport that reminded me a bit of the ending to ‘Liar Liar’, and also when Bond was fighting those two guys in the stairway. Everything Campbell does here is so much fun and filmed in the kind of way that we can actually tell what’s going on, but still feeling the tension and havoc that is being ensued. Campbell also somehow found a way to make a simple game of poker seem like the biggest win or die situation that I have ever seen. It’s a real wonder as to why this dude doesn’t do more action with a big budget because he can put it to some real good use.
When it comes to the story, it’s pretty standard fare but what I liked is how I didn’t quite know what was going to happen next. Yes, we all know that Bond usually lives at the end so he can give his famous last lines, but something with this flick made me feel different about that because he wasn’t just a guy that could kick insane amounts of ass but he was also a guy that could easily lose as well. This was cool to see in a story about James Bond considering it can get pretty predictable at a certain point but the story still worked for me and at least held my interest beneath all of the running, shooting, and killing.
My only gripe with this flick is that it feels too long by the end. The film is about 144 minutes long and you can start to feel it around that 2 hour mark and it gets even worse when the film continues to never end. It was almost like ‘The Never Ending Story’ of James Bond, it just kept on going and going and going until we were basically lost in the story-line and sort of felt like we had enough. However, Campbell does do a great job of keeping our minds off of that for the most part.
The main hype surrounding this flick was actually whether or not Daniel Craig, a relatively unknown indie actor at the time, was going to be able to be the part of James Bond and he practically got all of the nay-sayers to shut their mouths after this. What I like about Craig is that he always seem one step ahead of whoever he’s talking to and his role as Bond is no different because if you think about, Bond is always one step ahead of everybody else around him even though he’s terribly cocky. I have seen all of the Bonds that have came before Craig and they are all good but Craig brings a lot more that we didn’t expect from him such as making Bond seem more like a bad-ass rather than just the wizard of spy gadgets. Yes, Craig is the Blond Bond but he’s also one of the better Bonds of recent memory and I’m glad to see that he is still sticking with this role and can still go onto other flicks like ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and actually be looked at as an actor rather than just another Bond dude.
The rest of the cast is pretty out-standing too even though it is fairly knocked down to a couple of key roles. Mads Mikkelsen is pretty damn intimidating as Le Chiffre, and plays up that scary, freaky look to his advantage and definitely makes me feel like I should run away if I saw him across from me at a poker table; Eva Green is good as our new and improved Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, and she actually has a lot more depth to her rather than just being another one of the chicks that Bond bones and forgets about, she actually has something special about her and you can actually believe the relationship her and Bond have; and Judi Dench is always awesome as the cruel and sassy, M. Can’t say much else that hasn’t already been said of Ms. Dench.
Consensus: Casino Royale is by far one of the better Bond flicks with a star-making role from Daniel Craig, constant energy and action flying all about, and a new and improved look at Bond that we have yet to see from any other of the other films, which always works.