Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Best freaking Bond movie ever. Now this is coming from somebody who’s not really a big James Bond fan so I suppose that statement should be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve seen all of the movies, but only because of the legend behind the man more so than any actual desire on my part to witness the great exploits of 007 on opening day. To witness, ‘Casino Royale’ has been out a couple of years now and just yesterday I finally got around to watching my DVD version of this film, which I’ve had for well over a year, despite people telling me how great it was. At the theatrical screener some proclaimed fan at Decode Magazine begged me to give up my seat so he could see this film. If he was really a big fan he would have paid like a real fan is supposed to do, but I gave it up on the stipulation that he write the review for the site. He didn’t. Well I’m not going to pay to go see it just so I can write some late review and though I did eventually buy the DVD, only now have I watched it. Obviously that was a ‘my bad’. I wouldn’t even bother throwing up a review of a two year old movie if this thing wasn’t so damn entertaining. Lord knows the world really needs another ‘Casino Royale’ movie review.

Daniel Craig assumes the role 007 this time around, and to let you know how ‘not’ a Bond purist I am, I didn’t once notice that James had the wrong color hair. A newly minted Double O, James gets himself in all kinds of trouble with his superior, the always uptight M (Judy Dench) when he shoots up some African embassy while chasing this Parkour enhanced bomb maker, in one of the many virtuoso action sequences in this film. This clown actually thought he was safe just because he was able make it to the diplomatic safety of his embassy. Idiot. James don’t recognize your diplomatic immunity my man, so take this bullet with you whilst I jump back over this wall. So M is all upset that James shot up this embassy in full view of the surveillance cameras, brought shame and embarrassment to MI6, he also broke into her house,

used her secret home PC without authorization and hacked her username and password. But what REALLY upset her was that he was about to utter her real name of Martha or Mildred or Mathilda or whatever old lady name M represents. For this she threatened to kill him, all that other stuff – well shit happens.

The reason James did all of this is because he knows that this particular bomb maker will lead him to the king illegal weapons supplier and that his MI6 colleagues just can’t get with the big picture. Eventually, in between bedding the wives of international terrorist, blowing up people and chasing down gas tankers, James will run into this weapons dealer, a dude named Le Chiffre (Mad Mikkleson). This cat has a taste for big money, big gambles and torture, and seems to have risked the money of his incredibly dangerous clientele on a rather speculative venture which will get him killed if he doesn’t get this money back. His way of getting this money is a high stakes poker game. If he wins he is back in business dealing weapons to international terrorist. If he loses, well, for my man LeChiffre losing is simply not an option. There’s only one person who has the skill to stop this man and his name is Bond. With his pretty MI6 accountant monitoring Bonds usage of the Royal Loot and Bond Girl of the moment Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) by his side, James is primed to get the job done. Athletic, handsome, fearless, a lover of women, a marksman, a race car driver AND a card shark. I tell you... it just isn’t fair.

I’ll tell you why I like this movie so much more than all of the other Bond films and the first reason would be that it takes place grounded in reality. Instead of some wild villain who has a death ray attached to satellite in space or some nonsense, we’re simply dealing with real world villains committing real world crimes. Instead of James having a magical car that doubles as a bi-plane or a submarine and has mini nukes attached to its exhaust, he simply has a car, a very nice car by the way, that simply has couple of custom designed glove compartments. James even drives a rental in this thing. If anything should have upset the purist it should have been that, and not the color of some dudes hair. Hell, even his Bond girl is average looking, relatively speaking. I mean I couldn’t land Eva Green but I like my chances with her way better than my chances with Halle Berry, Sophie Marceau, Ursula Andress or Jane Seymour. And I’m a player.

I thought the narrative supporting this all-out action film was more serviceable, giving some insight into why James is the way he is and why he doesn’t love them ho’s. Daniel Craig made a very credible Bond, one who definitely acts first and thinks second, an egotist to a fault, smart but not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. It does seem that the ‘purist’ were way more upset that Bond had yellow hair than the fact that Bond was Irish. Regardless I though Pierce Brosnan was a fine James Bond but if ‘Casino Royale’ is any indication, Daniel Craig will wear the tuxedo quite well in the future.

Director Martin Campbell did a fantastic job with this film and had I seen it when it came out in 2006 it certainly would have made my list of the best films of that year. Unfortunately Campbell won’t get a chance to repeat his success in the next Bond film which is being directed by Marc Forster, who is a fine film director, but he hasn’t helmed anything close to resembling a Bond picture. Nonetheless, I will await the new film when it’s released next year as the series just has indoctrinated a brand new, if somewhat late in coming 007 fan.

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