Friday, November 17, 2006

Casino Royale (2006)

The 21st James Bond movie has been the focus of much media attention, primarily due to the fact that it’s the first outing for Daniel Craig as the hero, taking over the role from Pierce Brosnan. Though there have been very vocal protestations about this casting choice, he is surely the best thing about the film.

Casino Royale takes us back to Bond’s early days, when he has only just received his liscense to kill. Already he is causing trouble for M and getting to travel to exotic locations with beautiful women. It is his task to win a high-stakes poker game, to prevent a banker from using the winnings to fund terrorism.

Daniel Craig creates a Bond all for himself – still confident, still arrogant, but we see a glimmer of vulnerability beneath the 007 veneer. Quite why anyone doubted him in the first place, I cannot grasp, but he effortlessly looks the part, while having the massive acting talent to match. Eva Green makes a formidable and alluring Bond girl, helping add to what was a more emotional story than seems to be the usual with Bond. Mads Mikkelsen makes a suitably sneering villain.

Martin Campbell returns to the helm and doesn’t disappoint. The action is spectacular and truly push the boundaries of the film’s 12A rating. One sequence in particular genuinely shocked me, and made me wonder that had it been a woman in Bond’s place, the age restriction would have been far stricter. The action is engaging and moves at a break-neck pace, and is nicely interjected with moments of humour and emotion.

There is a segment toward the end of the film that made me completely lose interest, regain it, and then lose it again, only to be blown away by a magnificent, albeit expected, scene. The story contains many twists, as expected, although they become slightly more confusing than necessary by the end of the film.

This is a fresh, exciting approach to a long-running and much-loved franchise. I can only hope that Daniel Craig returns for many more adventures as 007.

8/10