Director: Martin Campbell
Scriptwriters: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Title Song: Chris Cornell
Locations: Pinewood Studios, Barrandov Studios in Prague, Czech Republic, Bahamas, Italy
Running Time: 144 min.
Casino Royale was released November 17, 2006. This is the third time that Casino Royale has been made into a movie, this time as an official EON production. And although this movie is not perfect, it is the first time the movie has been done right.
The movie begins with a black and white flashback scene to Prague, where Bond gains his double-o status by killing two men, an MI6 agent selling information and his contact. In fact, the famous "gun barrel scene" is given context for the first time, as we discover that the shot is taken at the first man Bond ever killed, the contact.
We are introduced to Le Chiffre, who acts as a banker for the worlds terrorists. However, he is using their money to invest in stocks, which he then "short sells" because he manipulates attacks that are designed to ruin those companies. Bond goes to Madagascar to find a bomb maker, in hopes of finding the next link in the chain. After a chase scene that involves some aerial acrobatics that require some suspension of disbelief, Bond kills the man in the embassy. This causes a backlash from M, who threatens to have Bond's double-o status revoked. However, Bond recovered the bombers phone, and the information leads to the Bahamas and the next link in the chain, Alex Dimitrios. Despite being on thin ice, Bond goes there and seduces Dimitrios' wife, Solange, and gets some information out of her. Bond follows Dimitrios to Miami, where he meets up with a terrorist, Carlos, who attempts to destroy a new super jet to bankrupt the airline Le Chiffre had just short sold. By foiling the plot, Le Chiffre is now out about one hundred million dollars of various terrorists' money, and is now desperate to get it back.
Le Chiffre sets up a high stakes Texas Hold'em game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. (The fast that this isn't a Baccarat game is one of several faults I find with the movie.) Bond is sent to beat Le Chiffre, preventing him from getting his money back in hopes that le Chiffre will then take asylum in MI6 in exchange for information about his various terrorist contacts. Bond is given 10 million pounds, with a potential for 5 million more. Vesper Lynd, a government accountant, is keeping an eye on Bond, and more importantly, the money. The game takes place over several evenings, and Bond runs into various henchmen, whom he defeats, with the help of his French contact, Rene Mathis. Bond is also poisoned and nearly dies of a heart attack, but is saved by his own ingenuity, some conveniently places defibulators in his car, and a little help from Vesper. Bond finally wins the game, after being bankrupt and fronted 5 million pounds by Felix Leiter, in exchange for the CIA being the ones to bring in Le Chiffre. Leiter's men move to capture Le Chiffre, but he eludes capture and kidnaps Vesper. Bond goes after her, only to see her in the road ahead. He swerves to avoid her and crashes and is captured while still in a daze. Bond comes to his senses in a torture chamber, where he is tortured using nothing but a well-aimed carpet beater. Bond does not give up the password that le Chiffre needs to steal Bond's winning, and Bond is nearly castrated. However, Mr. White, the leader of a terrorist organization who will assuredly play a big role in future Bond movies, shows up and kills Le Chiffre.
Bond slowly recuperates, and Vesper is now deeply in love with him. Bond deposits the winnings, and Vesper secretly removes the money to be given to Mr. White, who let Bond live so that he could enter the password to give access to the money. Bond figures out that Vesper is a "traitor" a bit too late and has to fight to get the money back. During the firefight, the building they are in collapses, and Vesper drowns in the water's of Venice, trapped in an elevator. Bond tracks down Mr. White, who had seemingly gotten away with the money. Bond shoots him in the knee, and says that they need to talk.
My Grade- B- This movie is welcome after a four year Bond hiatus. I like Craig as Bond and how he plays the role a little edgier and colder. I am glad that he didn't try to emulate the immensely popular Brosnan, but rather went with a more "Dalton-esque" approach that works well for the Bond just starting his career. But that brings me to a major problem I had with this movie: the timeline. It has always been a problem that Bond doesn't age, but this movie completely through the timeline out the window in an overly overt way. If Bond has just become 007 in a "post 9/11 world", then what happened to all of his missions during the Cold war? Are we to just pretend they never happened? Problematic. I also felt that this movie felt a little episodic, in that the "feel" of it wasn't consistent throughout. It felt like the various scenes were shot with different directing styles. And while I liked each episode, it made the movie feel oddly incoherent. I think this is also exacerbated by the fact that the movie seems to reach several ending. It first seems like the escape of Bond from the torture room is the climax, but then we have some slower scenes, followed by another action sequence, where it feels like the movie ends with the death of Vesper and Bond delivering the famous line from the novel "the bitch is dead." But even then there is another scene with Mr. White, presumably setting up the plotline for future movies.
Best Moment- The card game was interrupted too much to feel like a powerful scene in and of itself, and the fact that they weren't playing Baccarat didn't sit well with me. However, what I feel did work and was a good adaptation from the book is the torture scene. It seems like with Die Another Day and this movie, the film makers are more willing to let Bond be tortured on screen. I think Craig plays this part very well, demonstrating how Bond uses his wit as a defense mechanism during his worst times. The egging on of Le Chiffre also sent a clear message to Le Chiffre that he would never crack.
Also Notable- *After breaking into M's house and discovering her real name, much to her chagrin, Bond then logs onto MI6's website with her personal password. Woken up in the middle of the night to learn of this, M asks one of the best lines in the film: "How the hell does he know these things?" Well, M, that's why Bond is the best.
*When trying to get into the hotel where Dimitrios is staying, Bond makes use of what is at hand. After a rich snob lobs Bond the keys to his car, thinking Bond is a valet, Bond takes the car to the parking lot...then slams it in reverse to crash it into a divider, which in turns sets off a number of alarms. While the rich people rush to check on their cars, Bond slips in unnoticed, as well as getting a little payback against the man who assumed Bond would only be at the hotel to park cars.
Did Your Know-
*This is the first Bond movie ever to not have Moneypenny in it, and only the second not to feature Q. (The other being Live and Let Die).
*While the first line of Connery's Bond was "Bond. James Bond", Craig doesn't say the famous line until the very last line of the movie.
*The name of Dimitrios' wife, Solange, was used twice before in the Bond books: in the short story "007 in New York" and the short story "From a View to a Kill".
*Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron were apparently seriously considered for the role of Vesper Lynd.