Casino Royale
It’s good to be Bond … James Bond … Damn, I’m groaning at my own joke.

Theatrical Release Date: 11/17/2006
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench

Have you ever gotten so confused, entangled, and disgusted by something that
eventually you just said “I am just gonna stop here and start over from
square one.”?

This is what must have happened to the folks in charge of James Bond after
the horrendous third act of “Die Another Day”.

I understand and will accept a bit of the outlandish and fantastic in the Bond franchise. But what happened in that movie bordered on cartoonish. It was just stupid.

From now on “Die Another Day” will become “Macbeth” to the cast and crew of future Bond movies … never to be spoke of lest bad things happen.

After that movie, MGM acquired the rights to “Casino Royale” (the very first James Bond story), which it had been trying to do for a long time.

Combining this occurrence with the unintentional badness of the aforementioned movie, it was the perfect time to reinvent Bond. As a result, a new James Bond had to be found. Enter Daniel Craig.

Well, by now you probably know this isn’t the Brosnan bond. The new Bond doesn’t make a lot of groan inducing quips, he just kicks a lot of ass. It comes as a welcome relief, as this movie is much easier to believe, and much easier to enjoy.

And don’t worry, the things that made Bond great–the odd bad guys, the hot dames, the gadgets– aren’t gone, just toned down to a more plausible level.

The plot centers around a terrorist financier who loses a lot of his no-good clients’ money. Luckily, he is the best poker player in the world, so he throws a tournament to get it back. James Bond enters, knowing that if the evil banker can be defeated, he will need to turn to MI-6 for refuge from his angered customers.

The Chris Cornell theme song is one of the best in recent memory, probably since Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill”, and from the opening montage you can tell this film will have a different and grittier feel to it.

The film has a number of action sequences, and most are very good, including the opening chase scene which is one of the best chases in any movie.

However, at the same time much of the action seems forced. This is probably because it is difficult to make watching people play poker interesting for any appreciable length of time.

So people play poker, Bond gets into a few fights and then it’s over.

Much to my chagrin though, just as soon as (SPOILER) Bond wins (surprise!) the movie starts setting up James Bond 22. And while this movie’s third act is better than some of the other Bond films, it is still disappointing that it was just there to set up the next movie, since nothing was really resolved.

Although I will admit that it did succeed in making me interested in the next James Bond enterprise and the Bond Girls were nice. Not Diana Rigg nice, but still easy on the eyes. Thankfully there was none of the “Christmas coming twice a year” or “Don’t take it out, it fits perfectly” lines like in the Brosnan era.

In the final analysis, I would give this Bond a strong 3 out of 5, or a 007 out of 10. It’s not the best Bond film but it’s a far cry better than those of recent memory and we can only hope this is a trend for the future of the series.