Movie Review: Casino Royale

Bond is back with a vengeance.

In the early Bond, staring Sean Connery, it was about plot, gadgets and babes. But something happened with Moonraker. The emphasis changed from crazy plots to surreal and unbelievable plots. Villains were no longer trying to steal a lot of money they were out for global conquest. The movies had bigger budgets with more special effects, but were somehow less cool. Bond was no longer the greatest spy, he was a superhero fighting super-villains: sort of a Batman fighting an unending collection of Jokers.

In Casino Royale, we return to the old Bond and the old plots. Interestingly in this film there was no Q or R. There were no super gadgets. Instead it was all about Bond trying to get to the bottom of a very mysterious plot. The story in summary is a classic. Bond is trying to trace the source of some funding for some very nasty people. The pursuit leads him to a poker game at the Casino Royale where not only must he win the high stakes poker game he must also live long enough to enjoy his winnings. Bond steps out of the game and returns to the game periodically as if he were taking a pause. Each pause either involves him killing someone or surviving an attempt on his life.
The movie did return to a considerable number of it’s old tricks. Bond orders a martini. Although it was rather amusing to be in the movie theater. The order for the martini went like this:

James Bond: Dry Martini.
Bartender: Oui, monsieur.
James Bond: Wait… three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.
Bartender: Yes, sir.
Tomelli: You know, I’ll have one of those.
Infante: So will I.
Bartender: Certainly.
Felix Leiter: My friend, bring me one as well, keep the fruit.
Le Chiffre: [annoyed] That’s it? Hm? Anyone want to play poker now?
Felix Leiter: Someone’s in a hurry.

The audience let out a collective gasp when we saw this scene. Had the new Bond given up Martini’s? But later on he returned to his old standby. And when asked how he wanted it the reply was a classic:

Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
James Bond: Do I look like I give a damn?

As for acting, Judi Dench once again proves that she is a Goddess of acting surrounded by mere mortals. Every scene she was in, she commanded. Sometimes, I wish we had more M. Recognizing that having more M makes for a better film, the screen writers had Bond and M interact far more regularly. The best moment in the film was in the beginning after Bond has just blown up part of a Nigerian embassy and killed a bomb maker. M is fuming. And remarks how back in the day, if a 007 made such a mess at least they had the decency to defect. Which leads her to this whine:

M: Christ, I miss the Cold War.

Daniel Craig finally gave us the real Bond. The Bond that could be both human and monster at the same time. The earlier Bond’s never quite convinced you that they could kill their lovers. This Bond does.

And yes, the movie does end with the most important line in any Bond film:

James Bond: The name’s Bond… James Bond.



Followed by the all important: Tan-ah Tan-na-nah….

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