Casino Royale: Film review

Casino Royale


Rating: 2.5/5

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini


The name’s still Bond… James Bond. However, he doesn’t care whether his martini is shaken or stirred. He’s uber cool no doubt, but he isn’t seen playing with seductive cars and gadgets. Unlike previous Bonds (Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan), this Bond (Daniel Craig) is a die hard romantic, so much so that he resigns from his 007 status after he falls in love! Not the sort of thing one expects. I mean, you’re Bond… James Bond… for crying out loud!


In short, the movie falls below expectations for a ‘Bond’ flick. The blue eyed and blond Craig is super cool as the new 007 – witty, egoistic, charming, tough, well chiseled – all rolled in one. His crystal blue eyes hold you and his smile charms you as well as his ladies.


While on one hand the characterization of this James Bond seems to have been worked upon little differently in Casino Royale, on the other hand (literally) his loyalty towards his watch brand Omega has been retained.


What’s also different in Casino Royale is the fact that James Bond is not invincible. He’s more human than his predecessors. He bleeds, almost dies of a cardiac arrest (courtesy poisoning), he feels and is in a vulnerable position in one sequence wherein the bad guy Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) whips him where it hurts the most! However, Bond is at his smirking best even in angst.


The first half of the movie is action packed and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Some well filmed action sequences on the runway, on top of a crane and in a construction site with hazards at every step give you a sense of thrill. Especially noteworthy in the runway scene is when a plane is readying to land, only to zip off in the sky in the nick of time so as to avoid collision with a truck on the runway. Slickly done, this scene sure has you all there.


On the other hand, the second half is more like a romantic movie, one which you definitely don’t expect Bond to be in. A few scenes deleted from the second half and the movie would have been just right.


As the name suggests, in Casino Royale one would definitely expect to see a lot of the Casino and that we sure do, which tends to get a little too much. A game of poker goes on and on and on… What’s more, that seems to be the battleground between Bond and Le Chiffre. The real action’s sure missing here. While we’re on Le Chiffre, Mikkelsen hardly comes across as a villain and doesn’t wear the bad guy persona too well.


Eva Green as Vesper Lynd plays Bond’s love interest in the film and is smart and matches Bond in wit. Lynd plays an accountant, who is sent to watch Bond as he plays a high-stakes game of poker, in which government money is involved. Craig and Lynd have their special moment under the sun… or rather the shower in the bathroom! The new Bond girl is gorgeous and at the same time manipulative!


The scenes between Bond and Judi Dench as M are very interesting and add to the humour. In fact, since Dench is the only one who has been retained from the previous Bond films, it’s quite a delight to watch her as she dictates terms to Bond and tries hard not to get impatient with him.


Coming to the use of gadgets in the film, one would expect to see awe-inspiring technology in a Bond film since the world around has progressed by leaps and bounds in terms of technology. One expects to see much more than just a gun and a machine to revive Bond while he has a cardiac arrest in his car.


However, considering that the makers wanted to reposition the Bond franchise and make Casino Royale a more realistic film than its predecessors, the effort can sure be seen and appreciated.


Director Martin Campbell has done a good job. Cinematography by Phil Meheux is superb. Performance by the lead pair is also worth mentioning, however a little bit of chutzpah in Mikkelsen’s character would have added that much more excitement in the film. Camerawork and special effects in the action sequences during the first half are also worth mentioning. The screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis is where the film fails, especially towards the second half.


The film is definitely bound to get an excellent opening as it’s been four years since we saw the last Bond in action in Die Another Day (2002). Moreover, Daniel Craig in his Bond avatar will also draw in audiences to the theatres. Word of mouth publicity may prove to be a dampner as the last 45 minutes of the movie makes you restless. Nevertheless, the film will be watched.


Postscript: Virgin Atlantic head honcho Richard Branson does a cameo in the film. However, it’s a blink-and-you-miss-it kinda appearance at the security check in the airport scene. But his planes are sure shown flying high in the runway scenes!


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