film review - CASINO ROYALE.jpg

film review – CASINO ROYALE

You know my name

THE 21ST installment of James Bond is finally here. It’s been four years since Die Another Day and now Daniel Craig is the new Bond at the helm of a rebooted franchise.

Casino Royale is the prequel to the 20 other Bond films that have spanned the last 46 years. Having completed the requirements for graduation to the elite level, Bond has been assigned 007, although M (still played by Judi Dench) is convinced he’s not ready.

His first assignment is to track down one of the most elusive worldwide suppliers of terrorist money. After following the clues, which first take him to the Bahamas then to Miami, Bond learns his identity: Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen), who’s about to enter an exclusive poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro.

Bankrolled by MI6, Bond enters against Le Chiffre, with accountant Vesper Lynd (Green) watching the money. As the action at the tables heats up, Bond finds himself in trouble as Le Chiffre and some of his associates try to eliminate the British agent.

Although the plot may seem complicated, it is played out in three distinct sections, the first sees Bond leaping from country to country, chasing after henchmen and engaging in murderous conflict. The second is set around the poker table where romances blossom and murders are attempted. The third is where all the twists and turns come together, not necessarily in the way you would expect, which is good, as the predictability of recent Bond films has been lost.

The film is void of over the top special effects and long-winded action scenes, but still manages to be brutal as Craig plays a very rough around the edges character, not like the smooth talking Bond we’re used to. Furthermore, there’s no Q, therefore no lethal gadgets and no Miss Moneypenny.

Instead, we see the beginnings of Bond: he gets his first Aston Martin, is fitted for his first tuxedo and briefly considers whether one’s martini should be shaken or stirred. (His response is priceless and in keeping with the movie’s no-nonsense tone).

The plot is topical as it has to deal with terrorists, but it cleverly steers clear of politics.

The producers have modified Ian Fleming’s original script to relate with current fashion trends. Bond finds passwords through text messages and travels on the Eurostar. Interestingly they choose to replace the poker game of Baccarat from the original novel with Texas Hold ’Em, the game familiar from a thousand TV shows, therefore ensuring the audience can follow the bluffing.

This film is dark and serious, but at the same time Bond is seen in a vulnerable light, especially as he falls in love, a mistake he doesn’t make very often in his future. Craig plays the new secret agent brilliantly, portraying an agent learning about his game, who has the brutal nature of someone young and unafraid. The heart wrenching turn in his relationship with Vesper Lynd gives a good indication to why Bond evolves into a soulless womaniser.

After initial dismay at his casting, Craig has won over the critics and been hailed as one of the great Bonds alongside Connery, Moore and Brosnan. Rather than succeeding Brosnan, he has re-invented the role well and brought the 21st installment fully into the 21st century.

Ruth Sharpe