November 17, 2006 Casino Royale
Studio: MGM Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity.
Although he's been around on film for more than forty years, the world's most famous secret agent has gone back to his roots.
For the 21st "official" James Bond movie we get a brand new hero. Daniel Craig makes his debut as the suave and sophisticated superspy in "Casino Royale."
However this time out he's not too suave OR sophisticated. This is the story of Bond's beginning. Of his promotion to Double-O status and his first mission.
He's sent to take part in a high stakes poker game where a terrorist financier is trying to recover money he lost when Bond interfered with his plans.
Mads Mikkelson plays Bond's foe Le Chiffre. But before they tangle, Bond has other bad guys to deal with.
After taking care of that nasty business Bond eventually makes his way to Montenegro, where the 150-million dollar "Texas Hold 'Em" tournament is taking place. He's accompanied by Vesper Lynd. Eva Green plays the Treasury agent whose job is to watch over both the money and Bond.
I liked a lot of things about this movie. Daniel Craig does a great job as Bond. Although some fans criticized his casting, Craig brings plenty to to the role. His Bond is still learning his way. Although he makes mistakes Bond is still very good at what he does. He's licensed to kill enemies of the crown and dispatches more than a few of them with brutal efficiency.
Green brings both beauty and smarts to her role as Vesper. She's not the typical Bond girl. Vesper initially rejects Bond's charms until she eventually learns what we already know. 007 is irresistible.
"Casino Royale" breaks the recent mold of Bond's movies. There is no supervillain threat to end the world. Bond isn't given gadgets to get him out of every tough spot and he doesn't break off a clever quip every five seconds.
Instead the story is grittier and more realistic than what we've seen in recent Bond outings. And it works. The Bond we meet here isn't fully formed. He's raw and rough. Bond doesn't even care if his martinis are shaken or stirred!
His boss "M" (Judi Dench) describes him as a blunt object and that's exactly the way he operates. Bond smashes through obstacles instead of going around them. It's a refreshing twist on the series and I can't wait to see the next installment.
On my rating scale, "Casino Royale" hits a Home Run.
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