Casino Royale 2006
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James Bond's first 007 mission takes him to Madagascar, where he is to spy on a terrorist Mollaka. Not everything goes as planned and Bond decides to investigate, independently of the MI6 agency, in order to track down the rest of the terrorist cell. Following a lead to the Bahamas, he encounters Dimitrios and his girlfriend, Solange. He learns that Dimitrios is involved with Le Chiffre, banker to the world's terrorist organizations. Secret Service intelligence reveals that Le Chiffre is planning to raise money in a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro at Le Casino Royale. MI6 assigns 007 to play against him, knowing that if Le Chiffre loses, it will destroy his organization. 'M' places Bond under the watchful eye of the beguiling Vesper Lynd. At first skeptical of what value Vesper can provide, Bond's interest in her deepens as they brave danger together--and even torture at the hands of Le Chiffre. In Montenegro, Bond allies himself with Matthis, MI6's local field agent, and Felix Leiter, who is representing the interests of the CIA. The marathon game proceeds with dirty tricks and violence, raising the stakes beyond blood money and reaching a terrifying climax.
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Martin Campbell (director of Goldeneye) returns to helm this multi-layered, action packed, story-driven Bond experience and pulls out all the stops. In something of a soft reboot, we finally get to see what it was like for 007 just starting out. We see an array of emotions and reactions that we are not used to seeing in the other entries that feature a more seasoned agent.
Casino Royale set the new standard of greatness after the series had just come off of it's worst movie of the franchise with "Die Another Day", and laid out a path of what the Bond for a new generation would be like. Craig proved to be worth his weight in gold as an actor of James Bond and someone willing to do many of his own stunts to provide an added element of realism.
Bond Element Ratings:
Intro/Title Sequence/Theme Song: 5/5
Bond Girl: 5/5
Daniel Craig gives the character a sense of deadliness not sensed since the Timothy Dalton days. As much as I liked Connery, Moore, and Brosnan, and all delivered good performances, none of them seemed like sudden death with a bad attitude. For a government assassin, such an attitude would be helpful.
Daniel Craig sells that attitude convincingly. From the very start where he coolly terminates a traitor, to the very end where shoots a foe through the leg when it is clear he didn't have to, you know this Bond is cool about the job of dealing death.
The movie itself? I think of it as three movies in one. It starts as an action flick, segues into a cool spy mode with a very relaxed and long lasting poker tournament, and then gets back to the action again.
Although this movie does have scenes that remind you of the book, it is not a close cover of the book in the way the first few Connery movies were.
Altogether quite enjoyable, and closer to the way I perceived Bond as I read the books than most of the other Bond actors managed.
The DVD presentation meets current standards well. The picture is bright and sharp, and the sound quality is outstanding. If you liked this film in the theater, you won't be disappointed with the DVD.