(2006/Theatrical Film Review)
Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini,
rating: 4 out of 10
box office has remained strong worldwide, even some of the most ardent fans of
the James Bond series felt the series reached a creative low with the last two
films starring Pierce Brosnan as 007, 1999's The World Is Not Enough and 2002's Die Another Day. For me, though, the slump goes back to
1997's Tomorrow Never Dies, but that
one seemed to go over better with Bond aficionados.
film I liked in the series was the first of the Brosnan Bonds, 1995's Goldeneye, which happens to be the last
film original Bond producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli had
any input on (although uncredited) in any shape or form. But
after Cubby died in 1996, the quality of the series headed south quickly
despite remaining highly profitable. Cubby was clearly the major
creative force behind the Bond franchise who made
subsequent Bond films after Cubby's death have been produced by his stepson,
Michael G. Wilson, and his daughter, Barbara Broccoli, who both
collaborated on several of the films with their father dating back to the late
1970s and early 1980s. But with Cubby gone, the magic is gone as well.
Casino Royale was Ian Fleming's first 007 novel
published in England back in 1953 and it was previously made into a god-awful
1967 all-star comedy spoof that went through five directors and 10 (not all
credited) screenwriters, but also featured a great musical score by Burt
Bacharach. There is even an earlier TV
version from 1954 (when the book was published in the U.S.) where actor Barry
Nelson (the man who hands the keys to the Overlook Hotel to Jack Nicholson in
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining) plays
“Jimmy Bond” and Peter Lorre plays the villain.
counting the '67 comedy version of Casino
Royale and 1983's Never Say Never
Again, the new serious interpretation of Casino Royale is the 21st "official" James Bond film
produced by EON Productions, the company Cubby co-founded with his production
partner, Harry Saltzman, who left the series in 1975.
the lackluster previous three Bond entries starring Brosnan, I had high
hopes for the new Casino Royale
because it was being billed as a "grittier" Bond film, and the last
two times Bond "returned to basics," it resulted in what are possibly
my two favorites of the entire series, 1989's Licence to Kill and 1981's For
Your Eyes Only. Furthermore, Casino
Royale had Martin Campbell returning to direct, and in my estimation, his
first Bond film, Goldeneye, was the
last enjoyable entry in the series.
Campbell's Casino Royale is indeed grittier, but
unfortunately, it's only marginally better than the last three. Unlike Licence to Kill and For Your Eyes Only, I
think filmmakers got a little too down to earth for their own good this
time, and, in turn, squeezed out a lot what's fun about these
movies. Licence to Kill and For Your Eyes Only had just the
right balance of grit, wit and spectacular action. The latest Bond,
however, is overlong (its 144 minutes makes it the longest Bond to date), often
sluggish and lacking in the kind of big, exciting action we've come to expect
in Bond movies.
the plus side, Casino Royale
contains no digital effects, which is refreshing after the previous two Bonds
became overwhelmed with digital effects.
who thought Timothy Dalton's demeanor was too serious as Bond (I thought Dalton
was just right for the role), Dalton is practically Roger Moore as compared to
the latest Bond, blond-haired, blue-eyed Daniel Craig (Layer Cake, Infamous), who
plays the role with a stone-faced intensity more reminiscent of Charles
Bronson. Craig, though, isn't the problem. The problem is that he's
the centerpiece of an inconsistently paced film that goes on way too long
and doesn't have enough action or suspense.
the latest Bond theme song, "You
Know My Name" by Chris Cornell, may very well be the most instantly
forgettable in series history.
this is based on Fleming's first Bond novel, Casino Royale, like Batman
Begins, is a return to the origins of the character in an attempt to
revitalize a creaky franchise. In the film, Craig's Bond has just
recently been made a double 00 agent by his superior M (Judi Dench) and
007’s first assignment is to neutralize a money launderer for
terrorists named Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). Bond's mission takes
him from Uganda to the Bahamas to Miami to the Balkan
States to Venice as he tracks the one-eyed, asthmatic, and, of course,
sadistic Le Chiffre.
joining forces with a fellow British agent (and eventual love
interest) named Vesper Lynd (Eva Green of Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers), Bond and Le Chiffre
finally come face to face during an international poker game where
the British government stakes Bond in an attempt to bankrupt Le Chiffre by
having Bond beat him at the gambling table. This is also where Bond first
meets his future long term CIA friend and contact Felix Leiter (played here by
Jeffrey Wright) and gets introduced to what will become his signature drink, a
martini, shaken not stirred.
until the very end that we first hear 007 utter his famous, "Bond, James
Bond" line, and not until the end credits that we hear Bond's famous
Casino Royale has a couple of decent chase
sequences, and Craig does have a strong screen presence, but just like the
Cornell's theme song, most of what happens is instantly forgettable and nothing
we haven't seen before.
results of EON’s last four Bond films, this is clearly a worn-out franchise
ready to be put out to pasture. The man with the license to kill has
become the man with the license to bore.