Friday, May 1, 2009

Casino Royale

After giving us such a bad film like Die Another Day, the franchise's producers finally give us a James Bond film that can be taken seriously. Gone are the bad habits of the old days and hello to an action film that is not affraid to look boring in the eyes of many. To that matter, Casino Royale is the film that some fans of James Bond have been waiting for. It's well executed, acted and written. Above all, the film is less predictable than its predecessors.

On his first mission ever, James Bond (Daniel Craig), a British secret agent, discovers that Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker who provides services for terrorists, is behind some attacks. However, the last attack that Le Chiffre was behind failed. Since he lost some money from his clients, Le Chiffre organizes a poker tournament in Montenegro. In order to pull the rug under Le Chiffre, MI-6, the British secret service, sends James Bond in the tournament under the supervision of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), an official of the Treasury Board. She warns Bond that if he loses the tournament, the British government would directly finance world terrorism.

For once, we have a James Bond film that is not afraid to drift away from the formulae that has defined the franchise for a long time. This means that this time, the film has a rather balanced focus on the characters and the entertainment factor (this means less action scenes). Obviously, Casino Royale owes this to the simple structure of its storyline that contains a few plot twists that will sustain your interest for the film until the very end. Is James Bond going to win the poker tournament? Besides, in case he wins, is his mission really over?

Without revealing too much, this is probably the first James Bond film in which anybody would care about the characters. For instance, it was so refreshing to see that Vesper Lynd, the Bond girl, is not just used as a sexual accessory. In fact, you'll see by yourself that she has a direct influence on how the story evolves.

Furthermore, the script allows such a character development that we rarely see in a James Bond film. Forget the performance by Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day who couldn't look like a character psychologically marked by torture! Daniel Craig (Munich) is the best James Bond ever. Unlike his predecessors, Craig gets the opportunity to play an action hero that is full of human nuances even though some may find him monosyllabic. In his subtlety, Craig renders so well Bond's innocence, vulnerability (his ability to look like someone who is hurt in his body and soul), his ability to keep his blood cold (despite what he sees) and even paranoia at times.

Finally, while paving the way to a sequel, Casino Royale is definitely the best film in the James Bond franchise. In fact, this franchise reboot is not afraid to get rid of all the flaws that once made the franchise laughable (not that I hated the previous films). As a result of that, watching this film feels like watching a whole new James Bond: no gadgets, no Q, no Moneypenny and a larger role for M (who's brilliantly played by Judi Dench). If you didn't understand the film, watch it a second time; I'm telling that you won't regret it!

Rating: 4/5

Origin:UK/USA (2006)
Length:144 minutes
Screenplay:Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade
Director:Martin Campbell
Starring:Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen

Titles on Amazon (Canada):

Titles on Amazon (USA):

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