This review was part of Mark & Tom’s Decades Blogathon that was published back in mid May. But since July 6 is Eva Green’s birthday, I decided to post it here this week.
I can’t believe it’s been a decade since Casino Royale came out. I just re-watched it this weekend to refresh my memory for the blogathon, though I had probably re-watched it a few times in the last 10 years. It’s still as good as the first time I saw it, and I still would regard it as one of my favorite Bond films… ever. I’ve mentioned Casino Royale so many times here on my blog, in fact it’s one of my fave films of 2000s and one of the 8 films I’d take with me if I were stuck on a desert island.
Like many Bond fans, I too had trepidation about Daniel Craig casting (too blond, too short, etc.) but of course we’re all proven wrong the second he appeared on the pre-credit scene. Craig might not be the most good looking Bond actor (and he is the shortest), but he more than made up for it in charisma AND swagger. Apart from Craig’s brilliant casting, it’s the story that makes this film so re-watchable. It’s not only a great Bond film, it’s a great film, period. An origin story of sort, James Bond goes on his first ever mission as 007, and he didn’t get off on the right foot with M right away. The scene when M berated Bond when he broke into her flat was intense but humorous, a perfect balancing act the film continuously play throughout. It’s not the first time we see the venerable Dame Judi Dench as M, but I must say I LOVE the banter between her and Craig even more.
A great Bond film has to have an effective adversary and we find that in Mads Mikkelsen‘s Le Chiffre, a cold-looking Scandinavian with a bleeding eye. It would’ve been a silly gimmick if not played carefully, but here Le Chiffre is a cool and ominous villain. The fact that he’s really not a mastermind in the likes of Blofeld or Drax, but the fact that he’s not hellbent in ruling or destroying the entire world is frankly refreshing. He is a banker to the world’s terrorists, and so his only motive is money, like most of real world villains are. And a great Bond film also needs a memorable Bond girl. Well, Eva Green‘s Vesper Lynd is perhaps the hottest cinematic accountant ever. “I’m the money,” she quips the first time she enters the screen and into Bond’s heart. To this day I’m still enamored by the train scene to Montenegro, the way Bond & Vesper banter each other with wit and sexual undercurrents is what Bond movies are all about. Vesper is no Bimbo and that automatically made her a bazillion times more intriguing than bombshells in lesser Bond movies.
Casino Royale isn’t big on gadgetry, and as a longtime Bond fan, I actually didn’t mind it. It’s got everything else one would expect in a Bond movie – the cars, the exotic locations, the suspense, action and quick wit – it’s all there. Compared to Craig Bond movies, the Roger Moore versions feel more like a drama given how relentless and vigorous all the action sequences are. The opening parkour/free running scene apparently took six weeks to shoot and my goodness, I’m out of breath just watching it! This is one sprightly Bond and Craig did most of his own stunts, so it looks believable that he was the one doing the action in the movie. He reportedly has the injuries to prove it too! The car chase wasn’t overlong, but dayum was it memorable. The scene where Aston Martin missed Vesper by a hair and rolled over multiple times still took my breath away every time I saw it.
But all of that action stuff wouldn’t have mattered much without a grounding story. I think the last time Bond was genuinely romantic and emotional was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which was when Bond fell in love. The scene of Bond tenderly comforting Vesper in the shower is one of my favorite scenes in all of the Bond films. There is nothing erotic or sexual in this scene, instead it packs an emotional wallop that makes Bond/Vesper relationship one of the best and most convincing romances in a Bond movie. The love story in Casino Royale is core to the plot and it was woven perfectly into all the espionage intrigue.
Vesper: You’re not going to let me in there, are you? You’ve got your armour back on. That’s that.
Bond: I have no armour left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me – whatever is left of me – whatever I am – I’m yours.
Bond films are known for being an eye and ear candy, and this probably ranks as one of the most beautifully-shot. The scenery in Venice as Bond stroll in the Grand Canal is especially striking, topped off by the intense fight scene in a crumbling house (shot at Pinewood Studios modeled after Venice’s Hotel Danieli). The soundtrack also ranks as one of the best, done by David Arnold with an homage to the legendary composer John Barry. I can’t get over how much I love the track City of Lovers, which I’ve highlighted for my Music Break here. The theme song You Know My Name by Chris Cornell is also one of my favorite Bond songs, and the cards-themed opening sequence is spectacularly-done.
Per IMDb, this was the first James Bond movie to be based on a full-length Ian Fleming novel since Moonraker 27 years prior. Goldeneye‘s director Martin Campbell helmed the film from a screenplay from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis. I wish Campbell would be back in the director seat again as his previous two Bond films rate as one of my all time favorites. There’s so much style & sophistication in abundance here, but never at the expense of story & character. What I also love is that the quieter moments in the movie is still just as intriguing as the high-octane action scenes. That poker game in Montenegro is brimming with elegance as well as suspense, whilst showcasing the film’s excellent production design and costume design. Vesper’s plunging purple dress is a real head-turner and I don’t think Craig has looked more suave than in his tuxedo that Vesper tailor-made for him.
I really can go on and on about this movie as it’s really a masterpiece in the 50 years of James Bond films we’ve got so far. It also made me even more dismayed that the recent film in which the plot directly followed this one was such a downgrade. Looking back at Casino Royale‘s fantastic finale with Bond introducing himself to Mr. White, I expected SO much more than what they gave us with Spectre.
What are your thoughts about ‘Casino Royale’? Does it rank amongst your favorite Bond films?
27 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Casino Royale (2006)”
I’m looking at my updated list right now and it’s my 2nd favorite Bond as I just love the action as well as the need to take its time to unfold the mystery and such. Plus, Daniel Craig really gave a great performance as Bond. I’m hoping Idris Elba becomes Bond for the next film.
Which one is your #1 Bond film Steven? I’d say this one now ranks as my #1, followed by 2 of Dalton’s as I LOVE him as Bond. I doubt Elba will be Bond though surely it’d be a massive hit given how hot that guy is and everyone loves him.
From Russia with Love.
Yeah I can’t believe it’s been almost ten years since this film opened in theaters! What remember most about seeing this film on opening weekend was that I had one of the worst experiences at a theater. Someone decided to bring their baby to the movie and the baby was talking and then cried during the last 30 minutes of the film. I just don’t get why anyone would bring their baby into an action movie!
I did enjoyed the film tremendously despite the awful experience at the theater though. But I think something’s missing that kept it from being my favorite Bond film. Martin Campbell is too generic of a director and the film felt too safe to me. Le Chiffre’s probably the best Bond villain in the franchise for sure. But I would’ve enjoyed any kind of Bond film after the atrocious Die Another Day.
As for ranking my favorite Bond pictures: 1. Skyfall 2. From Russia With Love 3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 4. Casino Royale 5. License To Kill
OMG, that sounds like a nightmare time at the cinema. Seriously people just lack common sense sometimes, bringing a baby to an action movie, how did they expect the baby NOT crying??!
Ahah yeah, after Die Another Day, I guess anything is better than that. Well Campbell might be too ‘generic’ but at least he did a much better job than Mendes did w/ Spectre, ugh. And he at least didn’t misuse great actresses like Monica Bellucci and reduced her to nothing more than Bond’s shag subject. I’m glad you have LTK in your top 5, woo hoo!
I think I stopped going to see movies at that theater after I had too many bad experiences there, it used to be my favorite place to go see movies. It’s the Plymouth theater and I finally went back there last fall to see The Martian, thankfully there were no disruption so I’ll probably go back there again; it’s one of the three theaters in MN that has Dolby Atmos system.
I actually just bought another bluray version of Casino Royale from Best Buy so I might watch it again this weekend.
Still the best Bond of the Craig era. Wonderful review, Ruth. 🙂
Thanks, glad we agree on that!
Completely agree with your score. Love this film. Love Craig’s first dive into 007. Love Eva Green’s performance. Love everything Mads brings to his villain. Superb film!
Hi Keith! Yeah, Craig’s first is still his best, followed by Skyfall. The other two are pretty bad IMHO, w/ terrible villains and boring Bond girls!! But yes, CR succeeded in many fronts, it’s a good movie, not just a good Bond movie!
Wow it’s been a decade already eh, I’m due for a rewatch. Great review, there’ so much to love about Casino Royale and I liked how you mentioned the train scene and that incredible opening chase.
There are sooo many memorable scenes in CR, both in terms of action and wit. I also love that scene when the Aston Martin flipped over, wow that was quite something!
As someone who avidly read the Fleming novels and watched all the Bond films as a child, I can’t believe I still haven’t seen Casino Royale. You’ve sold me!
OMG Paul!!! You should see this pronto! I think you’d love this. I see miss Eva in a similar vein as Le Pfeiffer. They’re both incandescently beautiful & sultry, but there’s a certain mystery/intrigue about them as well as intellect. So definitely not just a pretty face!
“I have no armour left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me – whatever is left of me – whatever I am – I’m yours.” – this is one of my all time favorite quotes. i remember they used it beautifully in the trailer with it ending with that shot of Vesper lying on the road as Aston Martin misses her, which is such a thrilling moment as you mentioned. Definitely my favorite Bond movie and a great post here! I love Cornell’s song too
Ooooh I LOVE that quote! It’s so uncharacteristic for Bond to say that, and that’s why I love it. I included a clip from that scene on my Eva Green tribute. She is such a fantastic Bond girl. I gotta find that trailer again, I forgot they used that line in the trailer w/ the Aston Martin flip scene, which took my breath away. Glad you love this movie and that theme song, too!
All-round great Bond movie. Craig is perfect, Green is excellent, Dench, Mikkelson and everyone else at the top of their game. Well directed, defining entry into the canon. (And far more entertaining than Skyfall, even though it was a better overall film).
Amen Rodney! I think Skyfall is on par w/ this one though I prefer this one as I like the Bond girl more whilst I can hardly remember any from Skyfall aside from Naomi Harris’ Money Penny.
Casino Royale is my favorite Bond film of Craig’s, though I haven’t seen Spectre. It’s also probably my favorite action film of all time, you can’t beat that running scene. A very solid film.
Hi Rachel, welcome to FC! You should still check out Spectre with tempered expectations. Yes that opening Parkour scene is phenomenal indeed and it keeps getting better from there.
This is most definitely one of my all-time favorite Bond flicks. After all those years, all those movies, this one gave us the most human version of the character to date. It correctly changed lots of things that had been passed off as virtues into flaws and added a conscience to Bond. Skyfall is my number one, as it did those things even better than CR and was deeply reflective of its own franchise.
Hi Dell, glad to hear you love this one. It’s true it’s one of the most human version of Bond, though I’d argue that Dalton portrayed a very human Bond in his two outings. I think what I love about this one, on top of Craig’s portrayal, is Eva Green’s Vesper who is by far the best Bond girl ever. Skyfall is my #2 by a small margin.
And most excellent this review was too! Bravo again Ruth; this was among the highlights of the blogathon.
Awww thank you Mark, thank you for letting me take part!
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