- Daniel Craig as James Bond
- Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
- Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
- Judi Dench as M
- Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
- Giancarlo Giannini as René Mathis
- Caterina Murino as Solange
- Jesper Christensen as Mr White
With Pierce Brosnan retiring from the role of 007 in the disappointing Die Another Day, the Bond producers had to recast the role for Casino Royale, which served as something of a reboot to the series. Daniel Craig was chosen to play the part and he brought to it a gritty and more vulnerable quality for his debut as Bond. Casino Royale presents a return to classic espionage and intrigue, which makes it one of my favourite films in the 007 franchise.
For the first time in the series, Bond is shown before he acquires 00 status. This makes him more of an interesting character who can be hurt and does suffer from certain weaknesses. After quickly receiving his 00 status by killing two targets, Bond is assigned his first mission by his boss M. Travelling from the sweltering humidity of Madagascar to Miami, Bond is on the tail of an unseen terrorist organisation. The key to the organisation is one Le Chiffre, a financier who supplies them with what they need. Le Chiffre is merely the middle man, who is just as much under pressure as Bond is to discover the plan. Having thwarted a bomb attack on a Miami airport, Bond begins to unearth the nefarious scheme. The aversion of the attack has caused Le Chiffre to lose a lot of money and his superiors have him marked for death if he can’t recover the money. Desperate, Le Chiffre sets up a high stakes poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro. Bond is assigned to watch him and play the game. Aiding him is Vesper Lynd, a British Treasury Agent with a tough exterior, the rogue informer René Mathis and CIA agent Felix Leiter . As the games go on and the limit is raised, loyalties begin to shift and the concept of trust begins to wither. Despite trying to keep a professional distance, Bond falls deeply in love with the beautiful Vesper, but with his dangerous job and distrust all around him, Bond learns that in this world no one can be trusted, not even those who you are closest to.
Casino Royale immediately grabs you with the classic feel to it, as the atmosphere of exotic mystery and deception take a hold of the characters. Having helped usher in Pierce Brosnan as Bond in GoldenEye, Martin Campbell successfully completes this with his stunning direction that breathes new life into the franchise and establishes Daniel Craig as a more brutal but damaged Bond. It is refreshing to see Bond as not invincible and how despite his strength, still has issues with trust and pain. There is a definite emotional undercurrent to Casino Royale, which is highlighted by the love between Bond and Vesper. We can see that Bond genuinely cares for this woman and would do anything for her, but how this is the relationship that breaks Bond and changes him into the character we know today. Suspense is kept in tact, especially during the poker sequences in which Bond and Le Chiffre lock horns and try to call each others bluff. While there is very much a dramatic and sensitive undercurrent to this Bond film, Casino Royale doesn’t shortchange the audience on action. From Bond chasing a skilled free runner enemy to a brutal staircase battle, Casino Royale delivers a harsher and bleaker sense of violence that had been missing from some of the predecessors and not seen since Timothy Dalton’s dark turn in Licence to Kill. David Arnold delivers some of his best work with a doom-laden, thrilling yet also tenderly romantic score that epitomizes the film down to the ground. Chris Cornell’s song “You Know My Name” is a successful revamping of a Bond title song, with rocking guitars and slashing strings adding both a classy and hard-edged sound.
Stepping into the shoes of Bond and putting his own stamp on the character, Daniel Craig certainly delivers. He brings a brooding, taciturn side to the character as well as a sense of deep vulnerability and wounded ego. Whatever questions people had about Craig in the role before, he proved them all wrong with his stellar performance. The gorgeous Eva Green makes a deep impression as Vesper Lynd, one of the best Bond girls in my opinion. Green gives passion, sadness and mystery to this ever-changing changing character and invests her with outer strength and inner pain. She truly stands out as an intelligent match for Bond and one of the only women to really get close to the more vulnerable side of Bond. Mads Mikkelsen gives slimy, cornered fear and withering menace to the character of Le Chiffre. Unusually for a villain, there are times when we feel for him as he is stuck in the middle of a dangerous situation and trying to break out. Judi Dench once again gives authoritative command and hardened strength to the role of M, who is often exasperated by Bond’s unorthodox methods but can’t hide the fact she trusts him with what he is doing. Jeffrey Wright makes for an opportunistic and charming new Felix Leiter, while Giancarlo Giannini is superb as the informer with shifting loyalties. Caterina Murino is suitably sexy but doomed as one of the ladies who gives Bond information but pays the price with her life. Jesper Christensen brings a creeping sense of danger as a man in the shadows on Le Chiffre’s track.
Intriguing and emotionally gripping, Casino Royale brings the Bond series back to life with a defiant and effective kick that restores the gold-plated status of the series.
And as I’m feeling generous today and I know that many ladies follow my blog, here’s a picture of Daniel Craig in those famous trunks. Please don’t fight over Daniel ladies as he is needed for the new movie in one piece.