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Casino Royale (2006)

Everyone has a past. Every legend has a beginning. On November 17th, discover how James...became Bond.

Directed by:

Martin Campbell

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 144 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom, United States

My James Bond experience has been very limited—I saw some of A View to a Kill back in the 80s, but that was only because Duran Duran did the theme song and I was a true Durannie. Those were the Roger Moore Bond years, and from what I remember of what I saw, he was slick and kind of suave, there was some shooting … so yeah, very limited. I came into the Daniel Craig Bond as a veritable 007 clean slate, and I must say, though a lot different from what I expected in some ways, Casino Royale was great fun.

It’s his first assignment as a 00 agent, which means James Bond (Craig) has acquired a license to kill and is off to exotic locales full of sexy ladies and people intent on killing him. This time around, he’s tracking Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker to all sorts of terrorist types. Le Chiffre is putting together a crazy high stakes poker game, and MI6 has staked Bond to buy in—with the help of beautiful Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). But in his first foray into the world of the 00, our favorite international spy gets in deeper than he ever expected and is forced to take extraordinary measures to complete the mission.

So, even with my obvious lack of Bond experience, there are some things I’ve picked up along the way—gadgets, hot girls with funny names, a certain slinky charm—and those elements aren’t really too present here. But Craig pulls off something, like a Bond that’s not quite the Connery or Brosnan type of charm but is still believable in all facets of spydom. There’s more character development in this movie than I expected, and though this Bond seems almost more like a middle-class version, where the others have all looked to be more of the fancy guy variety, the change works well for a film that is supposed to be showing us the origins of the man and spy he becomes. Action and plot flow nicely, and there’s an equal balance of guns and chasing with suspense and romance—director Martin Campbell has a handle on this rollercoaster and there’s never a dull moment (special cheers to the stunt guys). On the downside, man oh man do these people get a lot of use out of their SONY ERICSSON cell phones (the caps indicate how glaringly obvious the product placement was). It only bothered me for its utter blatancy; in fact, it occasionally distracted from the film it was so noticeable. I was also a little disappointed in Le Chiffre as a villain; I mean, yeah, he cried blood, but he wasn’t very charismatic and his evil was more just … greedy. Other than that, though, this was all I’d hoped for in a 007 flick, and I’m happy to finally be in the Bond club.

It's Got: Spectacular opening sequence and fight scenes, My kind of Bond, Awesome ending.

It Needs: Better bad guy, Less Sony.

DVD Extras Three Featurettes: “Becoming Bond” (Daniel Craig documentary); “James Bond For Real” (action and stunts); “Bond Girls Are Forever” (all about the Bond girls); Chris Cornell music video (‘You Know My Name”). DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

GoldenEye, Quantum of Solace, Tomorrow Never Dies

Summary

Daniel Craig is this generation’s James Bond, and this spy story of how 007 got his license to kill gives us all the action, romance, and kick-ass chase scenes that we can handle.

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