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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Oct 26: Casino Royale- Review #300

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Oct 26: Casino Royale- Review #300

"In his first mission, James Bond must stop Le Chiffre, a banker to the world's terrorist organizations, from winning a high-stakes poker tournament at Casino Royale in Montenegro."
Directed by: Martin Campbell, Rated: PG-13, 144 minutes

As a quick preface to this review I want to state that this is not only my 300th review of the year, but also my 400th post. Thank you to all of my readers as I couldn't have gotten this far without you!

Casino Royale reintroduces us to James Bond, the martini-loving, woman-seducing, badass secret agent. And it does it in such glorious fashion, combining everything we love about the character and adding a tad bit of Bourne, a wee bit of Indiana Jones, and enough originality to make the 50 year old icon feel fresh. It's far from your formulaic Bond flick and manages to not only keep you guessing, but even fearing for the life of a man you know cannot die. It's suspenseful, it's action-packed, it's funny, it's sexy, and most importantly, is a film that Bond deserves. Oh, it's worth mentioning that Casino Royale also boasts not one, but two incredible openings. Yeah, it's that good. 

Sorry, THREE incredible openings if you count the amazing opening credits. 

Newly promoted to a double-0 agent at MI:6, a secret British intelligence agency that rivals the CIA, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is thrown head first into an elaborate mission where both his skills and strengths will be tested. Now, Bond isn't quite as sophisticated and suave as we've seen in the past. He's very rough around the edges, reckless at times, and quick to shoot. He's impulsive with all of his decisions, from what to do or whom to pursue (with both bad guys and women). Under the (sometimes) supervision of M (Judi Dench) Bond is sent to Montenegro to prevent the evil "banker to the terrorists", Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) from winning a high stakes poker game in which he can recoup his losses and pay back his own boss after a failed terrorist attack. To enter the game, a beautiful treasury secretary, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) gives Bond $10 million and flirts with him just enough to gain his attention. Under pressure from seemingly every angle, Bond must defeat Le Chiffre in poker, prevent him from paying his own employer as well as taking down his syndicate. 

While Le Chiffre is far from the most memorable of villains, Mikkelsen makes him very hard to forget. 

Casino Royale is a modern Bond movie for a modern audience. Daniel Craig is terrific as Bond and he's far from what we have come to expect in the role (I mean, he's got blonde hair and blue eyes!). Craig manages to make the iconic character his own, however, and turns in a much more vulnerable performance than the past actors who have played 007. He's much more human and relatable, even if he can jump from buildings and take out baddies left and right. This Bond actually bleeds, gets tortured, and at the heart of the story, actually truly falls in love. He's a man driven by emotion, not by a title or a gun, and in doing so he not only makes mistakes but suffers as well. We're well past the days of perfect heroes who never get shot and get the girl in the end, and Casino Royale focuses on that aspect brilliantly. 

Vesper is a very smart woman and much more of a challenge for Bond than previous love interests. 

Now, Casino Royale isn't all about the emotion. Director Martin Campbell crafts incredible action sequences deserving of this bigger, better, and more gritty Bond. From the opening black and white sequence that introduces us to 007, to the following chase sequence that sees Bond chasing a man who jumps and climbs over every obstacle like a crazy monkey, Campbell blends suspense with shock and awe. It's a terrific combination that gives nods to previous Bond films while recreating the hero like we have never seen before. Along with the great visuals, David Arnold gives us a musical score that highlights the somber moments beautifully and accentuates the dramatic tension of the action just as well. The iconic, nay, legendary Bond theme finds its way into the movie, but does it as more of a nod to the past as it is used more of a stepping stone into Casino Royale as opposed to a continued motif. The same can be said of the trademark lines of Bond, as the movie brushes off the martini quote and completely destroys his signature Aston Martin. Again, these nods reminds us we're in 007's universe but also tells the audience that this is indeed, a different kind of Bond. 

Bleeding and dirty, this is not what you expect James Bond to look like. 

As different as Casino Royale is from its predecessors, it still is a true Bond movie at heart. With incredible action sequences, beautiful women left and right, and a hero who knows what needs to get done no matter what the cost is, the film reintroduces the Ian Fleming legend with both dramatic and suspenseful justice. Daniel Craig completely takes over the role and does whatever he pleases with it, running off carelessly after a bad guy and actually falling in love with a woman. Casino Royale by itself is an exceptional film and adding the Bond label to it only makes it greater. It's a blockbuster with not only a smart script, but a flawed hero. Much recognition needs to be given to both the filmmakers and the cast, especially Craig who defied all expectations placed upon him and can easily be called one of (if not the best) actors to play James Bond. Whenever the film dives deep into a full out action flick or even a suspenseful poker movie, we're reminded that it is indeed a James Bond movie. The film ends with the iconic line, "The name's Bond. James Bond", only cementing the fact that he has indeed returned.

The Good:
great action sequences that contrast very well with the more emotional moments that bring Bond down to a more realistic, on-earth level
The Better:
even better performances from the supporting cast, from the villain to the girl, and Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, and Giancarlo Giannini
The Best:
Daniel Craig as a new breed of Bond that's both vulnerable and badass, with an added touch of his charisma, charm, and complexity

9.3/10

Discussion Question:
Where does Daniel Craig rank among the actors who have played Bond and what do you think he does better then the rest?

Trailer:

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21 Comments:

At October 26, 2012 at 9:32 PM , Blogger awsumdave said...

I think this film is pretty phenomenal myself, and I also realllly didn't expect Daniel to pull it off, but he really does. I had a blast watching this film. However, the real question comes with...Quantum of Solice, I've read mixed reviews, and I have mixed feelings about that myself.

 
At October 26, 2012 at 9:40 PM , Blogger Nick said...

It's really not good. It has it's moments and some of the ideas are great, but the execution is terrible, especially the dizzying actions sequences.

 
At October 26, 2012 at 10:07 PM , Blogger Joe Giuliano said...

You nailed it Nick. I was in the majority when Craig was selected as the next Bond, and he won me over early in the film. He made the character his own and hasn't looked back. As for Quantum of Solace, there's an interesting article in this weeks E.W. in which Craig says the film's issue was in the script or lack thereof. I highly recommend giving it a read.

 
At October 26, 2012 at 10:09 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I'll definitely have to track it down!

 
At October 27, 2012 at 11:06 AM , Blogger Ries said...

Great review, Nick. I agree that Casino Royale was the perfect vision of Bond for contemporary viewers. Early buzz says that Skyfall is incredible, and I can't wait to see it.

 
At October 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks. I cannot wait for Skyfall either... Only heard glorious things.

 
At October 27, 2012 at 7:30 PM , Anonymous Andy said...

Woo 300!
Also, Craig is my 2nd favorite Bond after Connery. I think he's unique enough that he's un-Bond-like but that's also part of his charm since it looks like he can really do all the stuff that he does. I have a hard time thinking that Pierce Bronson could actually be that much of a badass, but Craig makes it look easy.

 
At October 27, 2012 at 7:34 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Very true. I never cared for Bronson as Bond. And seeing Craig step in the shoes after him makes him look even worse lol.

 
At October 29, 2012 at 5:54 AM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

I think the difference between Casino Royale, Skyfall and the rest of the bond is this are good films not just good bond films, if you take the bond isims then we are still left with a really good film...

 
At October 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Very good point. They don't rely on knowing Bond or even liking Bond to really enjoy, which makes them much stronger films.

 
At October 29, 2012 at 10:13 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

Congratulations on 300/400, a great film to do this on. I love Casino Royale, of course I love all things Bond. I've been working on some Bond posts, come by and visit.

http://kirkhamclass.blogspot.com/2012/10/countdown-to-skyfall-50-years-of-007.html

 
At October 29, 2012 at 10:33 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for the comment (as always). You've stopped by a lot these past 300 posts and I want to thank you.

 
At October 30, 2012 at 8:35 AM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

Ok just seen skyfall take that comment back... pffft..

 
At October 30, 2012 at 9:56 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Didn't like it?

 
At October 30, 2012 at 11:55 AM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

I didn't hate it...

 
At October 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

if your looking for a review I can do one for you because Alex @ our site is doing the write up...

 
At October 30, 2012 at 4:43 PM , Blogger Nick said...

For Skyfall?

 
At October 30, 2012 at 11:58 PM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

yeah...

 
At October 31, 2012 at 12:07 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Sorry. I'm dying to see it myself and will definitely post a review. So I'm not sure?

 
At October 31, 2012 at 6:30 AM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

thats fine... np..

 
At April 17, 2013 at 2:34 AM , Blogger Olya Olegovna said...

I really enjoyed this article. It is always nice when you read some thing that is not only informative but entertaining. roulette-gamedownload.com

 

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