Film Club is an idea that I have been toying with for a while now. Originally it was a feature I was going to do on my own where once a month I would try to dissect a film, whether it be a renowned classic or something more modern. After a while though, I thought this was a feature best suited to multiple reviews, from various perspectives. With that I emailed a few fellow bloggers who were more than willing to get on board with the idea and help me out, and Film Club was born.
This month, Zoe, from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger, chose our film of the month. And chose, quite possibly, the most well received entry Film Club has laid its collective eyes on so far, in Casino Royale.
The rules of Film Club are:
1st Rule: You do not talk about Film Club.
2nd Rule: Ignore rule number 1, because I want everyone to talk about Film Club as much as possible.
3rd Rule: We don’t review cinema releases, as not everyone is always able to get to the cinema in time.
4th Rule: If the film is part of a franchise, then we must start with the first in series, i.e. we can’t review Terminator 2 before reviewing The Terminator.
5th Rule: We each take it in turns to pick a film for us all to review, and state our reasons why we picked it.
6th Rule: A score out of ten must be given to help form a general consensus on each film.
7th Rule: Each review can be no longer than 600 words.
8th Rule: No major spoilers allowed.
I was so thrilled when Kieron asked me to pick the movie for this month’s Film Club. Casino Royale was so high up on my watch list (again) because I am a Bond fan and I thoroughly enjoy the movies (minus Moore’s era), especially the Craig ones, I figured I might as well gauge how my fellow film viewers felt about Craig’s debut into the canon.
Now, what’s not to love about Casino Royale? I can’t really fault anything of it. It is my favourite Bond, and it most certainly has the most going for it. For one, Casino Royale touts Daniel Craig as our leading 00 agent, and he is by far my favourite of all the actors to play him. Craig captures that gritty, dark, angry side of Bond, playing it exceptionally well. He was not all about being too cool for school or anything like that, and he delivered a more flawed and offhand version of Bond, someone driven by something far deeper than we can’t understand just yet. Craig truly mastered what Timothy Dalton set out to do. I absolutely adored the intro to this film: it was fast paced, the black and white was incredible, and the parkour building jumping and all after that was breathtakingly intense. The actual intro to the film was also the first opener for a Bond film I really enjoyed (it told a story, and was not just some black and neon colour and women falling – it was a mission in its own right).
Let us not forget about Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre (though is it possible to forget the man?!). Mikkelsen is amazing in everything he does, always impressing me, and his role here was no different. I loved his blood weepy eye, his poker skills, how he was in with the wrong lot, and can I just mention how I can listen to Mikkelsen talk for days on end? What a voice… what an accent! Casino Royale also boasts the phenomenally gorgeous Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, a Bond girl with a difference. Besides being smart as a whip and beautiful to boot, she had layers to her character, not just some sex toy for Bond and flesh for the audience, and I liked that. She was witty, she didn’t humour Bond very much, and she was flawed, barely holding it together. Judi Dench was great as M here, and seeing her and Craig together on-screen is an absolute treat – words cannot explain how engaging that can be!
The action sequences had you at the edge of your seat, and never once veered into boring territory, where it becomes your mandatory movie filler material. That whole scene with Bond chasing Vesper down in the Aston and the ensuing accident? Wow. I know that a lot of work went into that scene and it holds a Guinness World Record for most cannon rolls in a car. The dialogue was fast and sharp, and something that I enjoyed for the duration of the film. Every scene was shot extraordinarily, and the score worked well, subtle, yet still very Bond-like, so nothing new there. Overall, as you can tell, I absolutely love this movie, and I go back to it time and time again. It holds up well all these years later, and it is a great standalone film, too.
What About The Twinkie?:
Sometimes, you can forget just how much you have enjoyed a film. Perhaps you’ve only seen it once, maybe at the cinema or at home on DVD, sure, you enjoyed it at the time, but for whatever reason, you never got round to watching it again. It stayed in your mind as a perfectly enjoyable film, but one that perhaps had its flaws and didn’t quite warrant a repeat viewing? Perhaps you, or I as I should really put it I, were wrong? Casino Royale is that film for me. I saw it when it first came out at the cinema way back in 2006, but I have not laid eyes on it since, up until it was nominated as our Film Club film of the month for October. And I must say, I really was surprised at just how good it is on second viewing. I had my doubts going into the film, back then and now, but they were soon cast aside.
Martin Campbell returns to direct his second Bond film, after Goldeneye, and shows a distinct knowledge of the character in being able to reboot the franchise twice. Campbell’s direction is tight and exciting, and features some of the most tantalizing action scenes ever featured in a Bond film. The decision to cast Daniel Craig in the title role proved to be the correct one. Craig cuts a rugged Bond, handsome yet brutish, and one that is somehow arrogant and unsophisticated in his role as a new 00 agent. Eva Green convinces as the most interesting Bond girl yet, and her purity perfectly offsets Bond’s cold killer ethos. Judi Dench is more than capable in the role of Bond’s boss M, while Mads Mikkelsen’s villain, Le Chiffre, is just the tip of the iceberg here in terms of the threats Bond will come up against.
Casino Royale brings the character of James Bond up to date, and yet manages to keep most of the things that make the series unique. Bond may have lost some of his sense of humour here, and the character may not feel fully formed, but surely that was the point? His progression to the suave and sophisticated alpha male is put on hold here, as we instead view Bond from the beginning of his career and finally see what turns him into the character that has become so famous over the years. The film may not be perfect, and certainly has it flaws. Pacing is an issue, as is the longest game of poker I have ever witnessed, but Casino Royale manages to blend action and intrigue, while giving us a Bond to, finally, really care about instead of making him the usual indestructible action hero.
As a big James Bond follower, I must admit that the franchise suffers from a common flaw. It quickly becomes routine. This is a normal thing when a movie franchise gets onto the double digits of movies, an astonishing achievement in itself. However, when you dive into them all, you quickly pick up on the tried and tested formula of Bond + foreign megalomaniac villain + attractive Bond girl = most Bond movies. When Casino Royale came out, it rocked the boat significantly. This was no longer a Bond movie just concerned with keeping the franchise ticking over; this was a reboot in every sense of the word. Martin Campbell does the unspeakable and plays with Bond’s origins and history (something that didn’t work out too well when tried before with ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The story is a thoughtful, intelligent affair, dissecting the role of Bond in this world and how political relationships come into play with international espionage. On top of that, we are given something we rarely see in a Bond movie, a love story. There is no Bond taking a beautiful woman to bed just because it is what the formula demands (well, yes, there is some of that, but culture is a hard creature to refuse). Eva Green’s ground-breaking performance (and yes, it really is ground-breaking, when you look at the women who came before her), as Vesper Lynd is something we haven’t seen in a Bond movie before and it is a welcome change in pace.
But despite the playing around with the concept of James Bond, Casino Royale never loses touch with the original character. The old Bond we know and love is still there, the beating heart of the movie. Daniel Craig might try new things with the character, but that cocky sophistication is still there, grounding his performance. The writers still give him some lines that terrifically echo the older movies (“That last hand nearly killed me!”). The action might be less frequent, especially the ending going for a slower approach, but when it does come along, it is the stuff dream action movies are made of. Bond taking on the bomb-maker through a construction yard and into an embassy is wonderfully filmed, the tension and adrenaline seeping through the cinematography and into a stunned audience. The fun is never forgotten and that is why Martin Campbell’s new vision of 007 is wonderful to behold. James Bond is back and this time, he is stronger than ever. The addition of amazing performances from Mads Mikkelsen and Judi Dench is merely the cherry on an already delicious cake.
Since his introduction to the world of cinema, James Bond has survived more than fifty years on the big screen, delivering adventures filled with guns, gadgets, and girls galore. Six men have donned the tuxedo and sipped a vodka martini in this time, with every passing generation having one that stands out to them as being the Bond they first grew up with. The sixth, and current holder of a license to kill, is one Daniel Craig, once seen as a hugely controversial choice to carry the mantle. 2006’s Casino Royale marked a new direction for the tiring franchise, with Bond veteran Martin Campbell being brought in to breathe a new type of life back into the character we’ve known and loved for so long. The result was simply one of the best action thrillers of the 21st century.
I have grown up watching James Bond from a very young age and although I was always a huge fan, it remained very clear to me that Bond himself developed very little as a character within his many adventures. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and License to Kill stand out as two of the better attempts to show Bond as a real man rather than just an emotionless yet effortlessly cool hero. Craig’s first venture marked a return to this style, with Bond being treated very seriously. He bleeds. He cries. He suffers. Casino Royale could very easily have turned into a poor Jason Bourne imitation yet it achieves what could previously have been dismissed as being impossible: By stripping away the suave mask that Bond hid behind for so long, he could easily have lost his audience instantly. Yet the face that lay beneath, although different at first, was still recognisable as the man who had returned to us so many times before.
As regards the film itself, it is a wonderfully paced and heartfelt thriller that remains as exciting during its poker scenes as it does its blistering opening parkour-inspired action sequence. This is the Bond of Ian Fleming’s original novels. Cold and unflinching in the line of fire, passionate yet brutal in all his relationships, while all the while keeping a wry smile upon his lips hinting at that dry sense of humour he has always retained. Craig performs exceptionally well alongside support from Judi Dench and the mesmerizing Eva Green who plays one of the few Bond girls with both motive and heart.
The few downsides of the film lie in its villain and lack of conclusion. Mads Mikkelsen provides an intriguing nemesis to Craig and although he does deliver on bad guy duties, he is only a pawn in a much larger and more dangerous game then what we are shown and although the film concludes with character arc coming full circle, it still suggests that the mission is not complete. Sequel-baiting is always seen in big blockbusters but the Bond series has never been one to leave a story unfinished. However, this is one of the few criticisms I can make upon this film and it is due to my own personal taste more than anything.
This was the twenty-first James Bond film. It instantly became one of the very best, at least in my book. With two more Craig adventures on the way, I am very excited to see where Bond goes next. Recommended for James Bond fans (obviously) but also for any series skeptics who may have dismissed the franchise a long time ago. Your move Mr. Mendes…
“The name’s Bond, James Bond.” Possibly the most well know movie quote of all time, that has something to say about what James Bond has become over the years. Ever since I was introduced to Bond with Roger Moore’s first outing, Live and Let Die, I was hooked. I have been obsessed with this movie franchise for some time now and have been able to follow the films in the cinema since 2002’s Die Another Day. Casino Royale saw the start of a new era for Bond, led by Daniel Craig.
I remember having so many doubts and reservations about this film upon its release only for all of them to be quelled. Casino Royale is quite possibly the best Bond has ever been. This film was only released in 2006, but to me is already a classic. This is a film that I must have seen at least six or seven times but as I watched it again for the purpose of this review I still enjoyed it more than ever, the gun barrel scene at the beginning of the film even managed to give me goosebumps. This scene leads into the opening credit sequence accompanied by the song ‘You Know My Name’ by Chris Cornell, easily one of the strongest themes ever to be used in a Bond movie. This sequence is done so well and it kept true to the films beforehand whilst bringing something new to the table.
Maybe what I love so much about this movie is that it reinvents Bond for today’s viewers. Ultimately we have a reboot on our hands here as we follow the origin of Bond. Casino Royale loses all the cheese from past instalments and simultaneously cranks up the action and suspense creating the ultimate spy adventure. Even though the majority of this film is taken up by a poker game the events are far from slow and even this game itself is filled with suspense and drama. Casino Royale gets the balance absolutely right though as it doesn’t ever stray too far from the previous films meaning that the odd one-liner enhances the film rather than degrades the quality of the picture. With many nods to the Bond franchise this film is just such a treat to any long-term Bonds fan but because of the changes made to the format it also means that this is a film anyone can and will enjoy. I am confident in saying that Casino Royale is one of the greatest action films of all time and is definitely amongst the top films in the Bond series if not number one.
The cast is fantastic at every turn; Judi Dench plays the ever solid foundation for Bond as M. Eva Green takes up the role of Bond’s love interest and does it so well giving her character several dimensions. Mads Mikkelsen brings his skill as an actor to the role of Le Chiffre, the sinister villain who weeps blood and of course then we have Daniel Craig as James Bond. He certainly silenced any critics of his that had complaints when he was cast. Craig combines the physical elements of this character with the emotional so effortlessly and easily cements himself in this role.
Casino Royale, the perfect reinvention of James Bond.
I have always been a fan of James Bond and have seen every one of his ‘real’ movies numerous times. (Ironically the two I’ve never seen are the two previous versions of this movie (which are not considered to be a part of the series itself.) Every one of the movies in this series has always been fun but nothing more. The campy-ness and innuendo made it so hard to take them more seriously. That all changed when the series recast the Bond actor for the 6th time in 2006. The new 007 was Daniel Craig.
This gave them the opportunity to not only switch the lead, but also reboot and revamp the series all at once. This movie successfully allowed the franchise to take a turn as a serious action thriller instead of the pseudo-comedy spy thriller we all know and love. In my opinion, this change elevates this movie to being one of (if not) the best Bond movie to date because of its ability to transform Bond into a real action hero. The pace is amazing and having a young Bond running on rooftops and cranes and doing all the stuff that Craig does is so enjoyable to watch.
Having this as a reboot of the series also works well to bring it down to reality because Bond is no longer the invincible man / super-spy that he once was. Having him as a novice agent who is flawed is great because even though we all know that James Bond will make it out alive in the end (spoiler alert!!) 🙂 , he is still susceptible to injury and mistakes. This reboot also downplays the womanizing aspects of his character and gives us the origin of his now-famous drink. I also liked how they minimized the use of crazy futuristic gadgets which helps to bring this franchise into the 21st Century where technology allows for modern gadgets instead of the usual science fiction gadgets that Bond takes on his missions.
All in all, this is one of the most successful reboots ever made and it will be great if any future reboots of other franchises take note in how to properly craft such an endeavor. If done right, a reboot can help make a character live on-screen for many years to come and this James Bond reboot is a great start!
Overall rating: 9.3/10
General consensus: James Bond’s 21st outing manages to reboot the franchise for a modern audience, while also keeping the things older fans are familiar with. Casino Royale is a spectacular film full of action and intrigue, and manages that rare thing of being a blockbuster with brains as well as brawn.