Casino Royale (2006)

casino royale IMDb

Sally
Casino Royale is one of the best action movies of the past decade. It successfully revived the 007 franchise, which was somewhat faltering by the end of Pierce Brosnan’s run. However, as much as I love this film, it just doesn’t feel like a James Bond film.

Months prior to the release of Die Another Day, a little action flick by the name of The Bourne Identity hit movie screens and completely changed the genre. Jason Bourne made James Bond look quaint and silly. Bourne doesn’t need fancy gadgets or sports cars or a tuxedo to carry out his spy work. All he needs is a sack full of cash, multiple passports, and his bare hands. He doesn’t fight villains bent on world domination or shag every woman he comes in contact with, and he would never order anything more complicated than a beer. With the success of Identity and The Bourne Supremacy two years later, it became very apparent that the James Bond series would need a massive overhaul if it wanted to remain relevant. So with Casino Royale the Bond series was shifted more into realism, and in the process it lost a lot of the charm that made and quirkiness that the franchise was originally built on.

I don’t disagree with all the changes made. The action sequences in Royale are way cooler and more imaginative than most of its predecessors. While the parkour chase is an obvious standout, my favorite are the opening scenes depicting how Bond received his double-0 status. I also love that this film moves away from the reliance on CGI special effects that plagued the Pierce Brosnan outings. The dialogue is also much smarter. Usually when Bond flirts with a conquest his pick up lines are cheesy and laughable. As much fun as the cringe worthy innuendo is, it was kind of nice to hear Bond actually say things that would make a real life woman swoon.

What I really miss are the gadgets. Much like Bourne, Bond now solely relies on his hands, his gun, and his wits. The argument could be made that a good spy doesn’t need the flash-bang gadgets… but it just doesn’t feel like a 007 movie without them. I also miss the fantastical nature that the movies used to take– the crazy villains, their quirky henchmen, the strangely intricate diabolical plans– but concede that this could never last. The direction that Casino Royale takes is the only way James Bond could survive in the 21st Century.

All told, Casino Royale is an excellent film. It’s not quite the Bond I wanted, but he’s still enough of the Bond I know and love. Daniel Craig may be a little rough around the edges, but he still looks dashing in a tuxedo. With or without the gadgets.

Rating: A


Ben
I think that Casino Royale is one of the best action films ever made, but it does not feel at all like a Bond film. There are no gadgets and Bond seems very business-like and no nonsense. The charm that all other Bonds before him had seems missing. This is still an amazing film, but it is no Bond for me.

Daniel Craig is replacing Pierce Brosnan as the MI6 secret agent in a soft reboot of the James Bond character. Bond has only just received his 00 status with a license to kill and his first mission is to join a high stakes poker game to stop a terrorist financier (Mads Mikkelson). Bond is joined by an accountant, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who controls the money Bond is using to enter into this game. Along the way he meets a local contact (Giancarlo Giannini) and an undercover CIA agent, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who assist him in bringing down this dangerous villain.

This film is great. Casino Royale was heavily influenced by the Bourne films, moving away from the fantastical type of film that has been a part of the series since it began to be ultra-realistic. This is not a bad thing, it is just such a huge departure from previous Bond films. Hallmarks of all Bond films in the past had been his use of outrageous gadgets and over the top villains, these are both missing here. The film is still awesome, I love it a lot, but I feel kind of cheated when it claims to be a Bond film because it does not feel like any of the Bond films gone past. Bond feels more like a British Jason Bourne, and the character deserves better than that.

That being said, this film is still a tense spectacle. From the opening sequence showing Bond performing parkour through a construction site in Africa, to the tense scenes of a high stakes poker game in Montenegro, this is a thrill ride from start to finish. Daniel Craig is a stiff Bond, but it makes sense in this film as Bond has only recently become an MI6 agent so it feels right that he would still be finding his feet and not have the suave lady killing attitude we are used to, although Bond does still get a few ladies in the sack.

Rating: A-

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