Monday, November 5, 2012

Movie of the Week – Casino Royale

This week’s movie:  Casino Royale (2006).

The twenty-first James Bond film sees Bond rebooted and on his first mission – to stop Le Chiffre, a banker to the world’s terrorist organizations who has lost their money and needs to win a high-stakes poker tournament to stay in their good graces. If Bond can keep him from winning, he will turn to MI6 for protection in exchange for information.

Returning to the franchise after bringing it back from the dead in 1995 with GoldenEye, Martin Campbell directs, with a script from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis. It is not uncommon for the series to bring back directors (Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert, and John Glen all directed three or more Bond films), but he is the first repeat since 1995. While Campbell’s directing career has been mostly relegated to making mediocre action/adventure films, he has done his best work on the Bond series. Both GoldenEye and Casino Royale rejuvenated the franchise. Bond, for all intents and purposes, was dead after License to Kill, but Campbell’s GoldenEye put him back on top. With Casino Royale, he completely revamped the style of Bond (more realistic and gritty) while still keeping it cool and fun (again coming off a terrible, bloated and tired Bond film in Die Another Day). The film is the best in the series since Thunderball.

Campbell worked with composers David Arnold (who has scored three Bond films) and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell (providing the film’s theme), cinematographer Phil Meheux (who also shot GoldenEye for Campbell), and production designer Peter Lamont (who designer nine Bond films, this being his last).

Daniel Craig stars, making his first (of five) appearances as James Bond. Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen co-star, as Bond’s love interest and the main villain respectively. Judi Dench (who reprised her role as M, which is sort of strange, but whatever), Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, and Caterina Murino feature in support, with small performances from Simon Abkarian, Jesper Christensen, Ivana Milicevic, and Tobias Menzies.

The film is great because it focuses more on the character of James Bond than all the crazy action set pieces, though they are very good too. His relationship with Vesper (Eva Green) is developed in such a way that the audience gets to see Bond in a much more vulnerable place than usual (much like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – which maybe could have been the best Bond film if Sean Connery would have starred in it). Quantum of Solace, while not a great stand-alone film, is actually a fantastic part two to Casino Royale, as it focuses on Bond’s pain and anger following the events that close this film. I recommend watching them together. Casino Royale is a must-see for fans of James Bond.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD and Streaming

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