Film: Casino Royale (Review of 5/5)

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This is the first encounter we have with Daniel Craig as the great British agent who’s licensed to kill. How will Craig scale up to the heights of Pierce Brosnan or Sean Connery? How will the script of Casino Royale hold up in this latest Bond epic? Will both compliment each other or has the Bond franchise run out of luck with this throw of the dice.

Casino Royal: James Bond is better than ever

Casino Royale, it’s back to the beginning

The film starts with a flashback to Bond getting his initial two kills; the last requirement to becoming a double 0 agent in the British MI6.

We then jump to the introduction of Le Chiffre (played by Mads Mikkelsen), a worldwide money launderer and terrorist financier who takes the money of his evil clients and invests them into stocks that he then influences into making a massive profit for both parties involved. Hardly the master criminal we’ve come to love from previous Bond’s who’s main objective were to use satellites as weapons or had an unhealthy appetite for military submarines. Nevertheless LeChiffre is no push over and his clients are nothing but a little bit savage.

One of Bond’s best ever chases…

Bond then has a truly epic chase with a known terrorist bomb maker through slums and a construction site. This scene is one of the best action/chase sequences I’ve seen, with some truly amazing free running style moves. We have a brilliantly choreographed fight scene on the tops of two massive cranes that involves some great hand to hand combat.

Parqour by Sebastien Foucan in Casino Royale

Some great scenes of parqour by Sebastien Foucan and Daniel Craig

The bomber makes his way to the Nigerian embassy and Bond can’t afford to lose his target, a small fish in a much bigger terrorist pond. Unfortunately Bond is intercepted with the bomb maker before he can make his escape, so doing what he does best, he destroys half the building as a ‘flamey’ distraction to make his withdrawal. From this point on Bond’s in M’s bad books for being caught on camera shooting up the embassy and assassinating the bomb maker. He also doesn’t make things any better by into M’s house. As always M is played by the wonderful Judi Dench.

Bond manages to track down the bomb makers client, a Mr Dimitrios (played by Simon Abkarian), a known accomplice of Le Chiffre. Dimitrios sets up another bomber for Le Chiffre but Bond is again on his tail, however he kills Dimitrios in the process. So far 2 useful bad guys located and 2 dead bodies produced… M wont be happy. Following the bomber we have the films second action scene, another great marvel of suspense and adrenaline, this time in Miami airport. Mr Le Chiffre has invested his terrorist chums money against the share price of ‘Skyfleet’, a new plane being launched, so if the share price falls Le Chiffre makes a fortune. So this is where a financier and a bomber maker come together to turn a profit, by blowing up the prototype plane and crashing the share price. Bond is there to stop him and narrowly avoids the planes detonation by killing the bomber. Good old Bond!

With the failed destruction of the prototype plane, Le Chiffre’s loses his terrorist chums money. So with Le Chiffre’s life on the line and no other opportunities to turn the profits he promised the terrorists, Le Chiffre organises a high stakes poker tournament at Casino Royale in Montenegro. If MI6 can make Le Chiffre lose the poker, they’ll offer him sanctuary from the terrorists in exchange for information regarding their location and how to get to them. Queue the famous Bond poker scene, with treasury agent Vesper Lynd acting as Bond’s personal banker and keeping a close eye on him. Lynd is played by Eva Green.

With help from Vesper Lynd, CIA contact Felix Leiter and local MI6 agent Mathis, the deadliest game of poker unfolds. With wild raises, bluffs, lethal digitalis poisoning and even cardiac arrest, this is a very well directed tense scene. After losing once, Felix comes to the financial rescue of Bond, who finally takes down Le Chiffre and everyone else at the table.

With nothing to his name, and his terrorist former clients at his heels, Le Chiffre and double crossing Mathis kidnap Vesper to exchange for Bond’s £150m cash.

Casino Royale – Bond at his best and darkest

This lines us up for a brilliant torture scene between Le Chiffre and Bond; managing to convey every bit of the torture without showing any gore is a sign that the directors and photography staff pulled out a cracker with this one. Daniel Craig manages to even make various bits entertaining… what a brilliant actor he is.

Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Caterina Murino

Eva Green, Daniel Craig and Caterina Murino

Managing to flee his captives after the terrorists assassinate Le Chiffre, Bond and Vesper head to Venice for some ‘me’ time, thinking they have already transferred the money back to MI6. After Vesper goes to the bank to extract some spending money, M rings to inform Bond they haven’t got the winnings yet. Bond quickly twigs that Vesper is actually double-crossing him and has already extracted the $150m for herself and someone called Gettler. Now we have another series of action scenes around the streets, rooftops and buildings of Venice. This culminates in the sinking of a building in the middle of Venice, as well as the drowning of Vesper. M reveals that Vesper’s boyfriend was kidnapped and she was being blackmailed to save his life.

Following some clues that Vesper left Bond, Bond tracks dow Mr White, part of Le Chiffre’s organisation that were running the whole affair. The screen darkens with the first use of the signature line by Daniel Craig: “The names Bond, James Bond”.

Casino Royale – my review conclusion

This film essentially continues in Quantum of Solace but is so amazing in its own right. Lots of fantastically executed action scenes, deep (and some very confusing) plot twists and turns, great casting and wonderful performances make this one of the best films ever made in my eyes.

Perhaps a tiny bit too much going on, but that’s quite easily overlooked by my points noted above. Everyone should watch this even you’re not a fan of the Bond franchise. Plus this film also has one of the best Bond theme tunes ever; “You Know My Name” Written and Produced by Chris Cornell and David Arnold.

Categories: Film Reviews, Great Films - 5 Stars

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