Movie Review: Casino Royale
January 11, 2008

"Casino Royale" was the first movie with a new actor playing the role of James Bond in quite some time. There were a lot of people who thought Pierce Brosnan did a dang fine job--and he did--so of course the new actor was under a lot of scrutiny in the months leading up to the film's theatrical release. Then in the months that followed, there were a lot of people saying that he's the best actor yet for the role. I heard all of that commentary, and I was anxious to see for myself just how it all worked out, but time kept getting in the way. Finally, just this evening, I got my chance to see. My conclusion isn't so much that he's the best Bond, though, as that he's a different Bond.

The movie opens in stylish black and white (an effect it won't keep long) and shows James Bond in his agent infancy. In fact, as the film opens he's not even a 'double 0' agent at all. That changes, but then things go wrong and his superiors begin to think they may have chosen the wrong individual for a promotion. What follows from there is a twisting, winding sort of story that feels decidedly different from recent movies in the series, but very interesting because: 1) it has a lot of action; 2) it shows the film maker's vision of how James Bond became the super spy that has delighted us all these years.

As James Bond, Daniel Craig shows the agent's early years with excellent style. It's clear that with the change of lead actor, the people in charge of the franchise decided they wanted a fresh start. Craig is reckless but mostly effective, jaded yet the slightest bit wide-eyed as he faces a world of intrigue and danger. Perhaps most importantly, he's easy to appreciate as a person who might even make a few mistakes and say a few things that annoy you, but that you want to see come out on top of everything. The past Bond characters seem to be machines with a British accent and no real personality aside from what the formula demands. Craig delves beyond that--thanks to the material writers have gifted him, of course--and completely won me over by the end of the film.

I really don't want to touch on any plot points beyond what I've revealed, but I want to assure you that there are in jokes about martinis and cars, plus a game of cards plays prominently in the proceedings. There also is a lot of down time toward the second half of the film, yet things remained tense enough for the most part that I remained near the edge of my seat pretty much the whole way through a film that comes in just shy of two and a half hours. Where past Bond films have rightly followed a fan-approved formula that meant you almost always could predict what might happen next, this one threw enough surprises in the mix that I was never quite certain what to think.

The end result, of course, is that I can't wait to see where the franchise goes from here and I'm quite happy to have it be Daniel Craig that takes it there. He's proven himself a capable, even exemplary actor for at least this particular role, and his next appearance as Britain's finest can't come soon enough.


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bluberry bluberry - January 12, 2008 (12:40 AM)
agreed, it was a very good movie. one or two parts might have been little bit over-the-top, but it's hard to complain after how stupid almost all of Die Another Day was.
sashanan sashanan - January 12, 2008 (12:07 PM)
Rebooting the series was a daring move that paid off handsomely, not in the last place because Craig has done a fabulous job. Looking forward to the next one very much - I haven't missed a Bond movie in the theatres since GoldenEye but this was the best I've seen in quite some time.
wayne_steed wayne_steed - January 13, 2008 (06:05 AM)
I was a James Bond newbie till Casino Royale came out. Now I can't wait for the release of Bond 22, or whatever it is.

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