Bond 25 – NO TIME TO DIE first trailer + character posters!

I’ve been waiting for this!! After revealing the new title last August, No Time To Die finally has its first trailer… and as a longtime Bond fan, color me excited!!


I personally can’t wait to see what director Cary Fukunaga would do with this 57-year-old franchise, and from what I’m seeing here, it certainly looks promising!

The one I’m most curious about is Lashana Lynch’s character, and this trailer confirms that she is indeed has been assigned as a Double-O while Bond’s away from active duty. Oooh and she’s fierce!

Stay in your lane. You get in my way, I’ll put a bullet in your name.

She also reminds Bond that the world has changed… a way the studio reassure moviegoers that ‘this new Bond movie is woke, guys!’ I had to chuckle a bit seeing how reluctant Daniel Craig says the name ‘Bond… James Bond.’ He doesn’t look too happy to come back from retirement… just like Craig himself who can’t wait for his Bond contract to expire, ahah.

So Christoph Waltz is back as Blofeld, let’s see if they’d redeem his character here after what they did in Spectre where he’s basically playing a clichéd psychopath. And now Rami Malek is the new Phantom of the Opera er, Bond villain named Safin, complete w/ a preposterous accent to go with his eeee-vil plan. Looks like Safin will be one of those baddie with a more global ‘vision’ for his malevolent schemes… not simply a guy on a personal vendetta w/ Bond.

“… your skills die with your body. Mine will survive long after I’m gone.”

Nice to see Léa Seydoux back as Dr. Swann. So is she supposed to be new Vesper? Blofeld said ‘you gave up everything for her’ but there’s talk about her  knowing Safin’s secret… hmmmm, are they alluding to a Stockholm syndrome of some kind as Dr. Swann was kidnapped (presumably by Safin) and Bond had to rescue her? Not sure yet who Ana de Armas is playing, but hey she looks fabulous in a low-cut dress firing out two guns, so that’s all that matters, right? 😉

The cinematography looks gorgeous, plenty of cool-looking shots here. DP Linus Sandgren has worked with Damien Chazelle in La La Land and First Man. Composer Dan Romer is also new to the Bond franchise,  so far the music sounds good to me.


Ahead of the trailer, they released these new character posters… I’d say they look pretty sleek! I like the vintage, art deco vibe of the font, but yet looks very modern overall. Hey even Ben Whishaw gets his own character poster as the quirky Q, but no Ralph Fiennes as M??

Even in his poster Craig looks like he absolutely can’t wait to be done w/ his Bond stint, ahah. Well, I like him in the role, but honestly, I’m pretty ready to see a new Bond myself.

In any case, I am excited for Bond 25. There’s no shortage on the writers apparently… Cary Fukunaga also wrote the script which started with Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, then Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge were brought in to make some updates. Release date in North America is April 8, while the UK and its territories will see it first on April 2.


What do you think of NO TIME TO DIE trailer? Let’s hear it!

BOND 25 NEWS – New Title, Synopsis & Release Date

Well, well, well, it’s been a while since last April since we saw the Live Reveal of the cast/crew at Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s legendary Jamaican villa. Earlier today a tweet came announcing the title AND when we’ll see the movie!

Here it is again in the 16:9 format:

My first reactions is, ‘Hmmm, I thought they’re gonna have another one word title like Skyfall and Spectre, but No Time To Die isn’t terrible, though the word ‘die’ has been kinda overused in this franchise. In any case, I quite like the retro font here and the title plays on the fact that Bond has left service. Well, temporarily anyway, the synopsis tells us he’ll take up the spy mantle when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

Despite rumors of numerous set problems, the 25th Bond film continues production in Jamaica and Pinewood Studios, UK. I follow director Cary Fukunaga on Instagram and he posts stuff pretty regularly. Last June, they even released a set video featuring Daniel Craig with Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter) and Lashana Lynch (Nomi) on set. I for one can’t wait to see miss Lynch being introduced as a female 007 (as I mentioned in this post).

No sign of Rami Malek just yet though, who I think is an inspired choice as a Bond villain. Apparently Malek signed on to do the role on one condition, and it totally make sense given his background.

Per EW, “It’s a great character and I’m very excited,” Rami, who is of Egyptian descent, is quoted as saying. “But that was one thing that I discussed with Cary. I said, ‘We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion. That’s not ­something I would entertain, so if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out.’ But that was clearly not his vision. So he’s a very different kind of terrorist.” 

I’m curious to see how Malek fares as a young Bond villain, let’s hope he’ll do much better than poor Toby Stephens in Die Another Day (which basically the same meaning as No Time To Die?). I guess we’ll find out when the movie opens on Wednesday, 8 April 2020.


Well, what do YOU think about the new title?

Trailers Spotlight: ‘Knives Out’ and HULU’s ‘Four Weddings & A Funeral’ miniseries

Film/Show trailers come out every day, but only a few are worth posting about. Well, yesterday TWO trailers came out that caught my eye. Yes they couldn’t be more different from each other in terms of plot, tone and setting, but I’m excited for both! So let’s start with the Rian Johnson‘s star-studded whodunnit thriller…

A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

I mean, just LOOK. AT. THIS. CAST.

It’s gotta be quite a feat just scheduling THIS kind of ensemble to be in the same room, dayum! Looking at some of the character names on IMDb, sounds like Captain America and General Zod are related? With the Scream Queen herself Jamie Lee Curtis, James Bond’s got his work cut out for him to solve this case, ha!

And here’s the trailer…

After directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, writer/director Rian Johnson is now channeling Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie in his family murder mystery with an amazing cast! Right off the bat it reminds me of the excellent miniseries Ordeal by Innocence on Amazon Prime starring Bill Nighy as the patriarch of a wealthy family. This one seems far more comedic, at least from the way the trailer is cut. Interesting to see Christopher Plummer co-starring with Daniel Craig in similar roles as in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I saw not too long ago. Apparently Craig’s character Benoit Blanc is described as an American Poirot, but what is that accent??! In any case, the scene stealer in this trailer is definitely Chris Evans, shedding his Cap’s goody-two-shoes image with his devil-may-care attitude and a potty mouth. I’m SO down for this suspenseful-but-mirthful wild ride this promises to be. I quite enjoyed Looper, though I should check out Brick one of these days.

KNIVES OUT is released on 27 November, perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday where family gatherings can be murder 😉


Maya, the young communications director for a New York senatorial campaign, receives a wedding invitation from her college schoolmate now living in London. She leaves her professional and personal life behind, in favor of traveling to England and reconnecting with old friends and ends up in the midst of their personal crises. Relationships are forged and broken, political scandals exposed, London social life lampooned, love affairs ignited and doused, and of course there are four weddings… and a funeral.

Now, normally I’m not into remakes of a classic, especially when it’s one of my all time favorites. But when I heard that Mindy Kaling is writing this miniseries AND I saw the cast includes the lovely Nathalie Emmanuel and my current crush Nikesh Patel, I’m SO down for this! Plus the original exec producer/writer Richard Curtis (who also wrote my fave rom-coms Notting Hill, Love Actually, About Time, etc.) himself is involved in this project.

I LOVE that they’re still setting this in London with a diverse cast. Ok my only gripe is the ‘Ryan Gosling dipped in caramel’ comment. Puh-leeze! The Goz wishes he’s got cut-glass cheekbones and voice like Mr. Patel! Glad Nikesh gets to use his own British accent this time, while Nathalie is playing American – not sure why, but I wonder if she’s related to Andie MacDowell’s character Carrie from the original movie who’s also part of this cast.

In any case, I’ve been enjoying the British Indian actor since my bestie Vony tipped me to watch Indian Summer (it’s on Amazon Prime, highly recommended!!). It’s like Downton Abbey but with more POC cast + more intrigue and higher stakes.  It’s time for him to shine as a romantic leading man and based on this trailer, methinks he’ll steal plenty of hearts!

Now, I suppose they could make an entirely new series that’s inspired by the 1994 classic, but considering how tough it is to launch any new tv show, sometimes leveraging something that’s beloved in people’s mind might get more attention. I don’t know what the real reason is, but in the case of this particular series, I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt. A fresh new spin on a classic isn’t automatically bad, so yeah, I look forward to July 31 for the premiere!


Thoughts on these trailers, folks?

Musings on #BOND25 news – New Director, Writers + Cast

Ok, as a massive Bond fan, today’s a big day. Somehow I missed the news that they were going to do a LIVE stream right from Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s legendary Jamaican villa. Yep, the same exact location where Fleming wrote all those 007 novels.

Apparently next week on April 28 the cast/crew will begin to shoot the still-nameless Bond movie and Daniel Craig will be back to reprise his role as 007.

Bond25 cast and crew at the Jamaican LIVE reveal event

Yeah, so much for all those rumors about who’ll be the next Bond. I mean, the 25th Bond film isn’t out in the US until April 8, 2020 (April 3 in the UK and internationally), but of course the rumor mill will continue endlessly.

In any case, below is the video of the Live Reveal, which honestly isn’t the most exciting video despite it being in such a glorious location. Even most of the cast seemed in a rather gloomy mood, and Craig himself struggled to give a shit explain about the enduring appeal of James Bond when he’s asked that question, ha!

Before I get to the cast, well the main things are who’s making the movie. It’s been confirmed that Cary Joji Fukunaga will direct the film. I’ve only seen one of his films, Jane Eyre, but he’s well-known by US audiences since Beast of No Nation (starring fan-favorite for Bond, Idris Elba) and True Detective series. I gotta say the Japanese-American filmmaker is handsome and dapper enough to actually play 007 (that is in a world where someone of his ethnicity could actually be cast as James Bond)

As for the script, longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis & Robert Wade wrote the original script but now they’re bringing in Scott Z. Burns (Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion, The Informant!) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (creator of Killing Eve series). I actually knew that Scott Z. Burns is involved in Bond 25 when I attended a panel honoring him at the Minneapolis St Paul Film Festival (MSPIFF) where he talked about his roots growing up in Golden Valley, Minnesota and went on to be one of the most acclaimed and prolific writer/director in Hollywood. He might be the first writer to tackle Bourne AND Bond, and I for one am excited to see what he’ll bring to the table.

Now the cast…

Returning cast are Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Jeffrey Wright.

I pretty much love every single one of those returning cast members. I do miss Dame Judi Dench as M, but Fiennes is terrific as M. I also love Harris as Money Penny, Whishaw as Q and Wright as Felix. A truly solid group there in Bond’s corner.

INTRODUCING new cast members:

Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.

Now, out of the new group, I’m most intrigued by Lashana Lynch and Rami Malek’s casting. I quite like Lynch as Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel. I didn’t even know she’s British until I saw her speak in this video, super cool! She and Naomie Harris both have Jamaican roots, so this project must be extra special for them.

As for Rami, this is his first high profile role he’s doing since he won an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody AND looks like he’s going to play a Bond villain. He said in a video message that “I will be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in his 25th outing.” 

I know a lot of people are probably excited for Malek’s casting but at this point it’s kind of meh. Yes I like the diverse casting here. He is Egyptian-American and a good actor, but I don’t see the boyish-looking 38-year old as having the kind of gravitas I expect as a classic Bond villain. Heck, it would have been awesome to see Idris Elba as a Bond villain, now THAT’s a guy that could give any Bond actor a run for his money and he’d probably steal all his ladies, too. If they were bold enough, why not someone like Viola Davis as a Bond villain?

In any case, there are rumors that Christoph Waltz would also be returning as Blofeld. Now I like him as an actor, but he’s so rubbish in Spectre I really don’t care to see him again. So I guess it remains to be seen how Malek would fare in the role, I suppose I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

One thing I am excited about is that Bond is returning to his Jamaican roots. Not only did Fleming wrote his Bond novels in Jamaica, but that’s where the entire franchise kicked off as Dr. No with Sean Connery was filmed there in 1962. Barbara Broccoli gave some hints to the plot in the reveal, “Bond is not on active service when the film starts. He is enjoying himself in Jamaica. We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home. He starts his journey here.” According to Fukunaga, they already shot parts of the movie in Norway (due to weather), but they’ll resume filming in Jamaica the following weeks, Matera in Southern Italy and also Pinewood studios in London.


Well, what do YOU think about Bond 25 news? Let’s hear it!

Mini Reviews: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) + Wind River (2017)

Happy Monday everyone! It’s been a pretty hectic week last week with freelance gigs, script updates, etc. There’s a hint of Spring (finally!) after such a long and pretty miserable Winter, in fact, we pretty much hibernated most weekends the past couple of months. Well, that gave us a chance to catch up on a bunch of new-to-me movies. Today I’ve got a pair of excellent, moody crime thrillers that both took place in the Winter months.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

Directed by: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Steven Zaillian

For a while I sort of avoided this adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s crime novel (part of the Millennium trilogy), both the Swedish version and this English language version. I just thought it’d be too violent and that I wouldn’t enjoy it. But well, my hubby and I were in the mood for a good crime noir, and since we both liked Gone Girl, we thought we’d give this one a shot. Well, I wasn’t disappointed.

David Fincher is a master in building suspense even with relatively little action. I quite like Daniel Craig as the disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who’s hired by a retired CEO Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the disappearance of his grandniece Harriet. Vanger exposed some really strange family dynamics which lives up to his descriptions, and then some. The film took its time before Mikael and Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) meets, as their story runs in parallel until their eventual meet-up.

I knew going into this that this is a violent film, especially dealing with brutal sexual assault and rape, but still, it’s quite harrowing to watch. The way Lisbeth retaliates for this brutality has that ‘wish fulfillment’ fantasy, as the wicked assailant has no idea who he’s dealing with. Mara’s transformation as Lisbeth is astounding and she completely lost herself in the role as the brilliant but antisocial hacker. I thought Mara’s a bit of an unusual choice to play her, but she pulled it off. Lisbeth is quite a mesmerizing and intimidating character, an undoubtedly challenging-but-flashy role every prominent actress would want to portray.

What I like most about this movie is the way the story unfolds. I actually like the deliberate, almost unhurried pace, but every moment is never without a sense of dread. Fincher’s direction is superb, using the setting (in Sweden and various Nordic countries) to great effect in conveying the perfect mood for the film. It’s the kind of mystery thriller that fully immerses you in the story and rewards your patience. Stellan Skarsgård is pretty memorable here as well in a quiet, but sinister role as Harriet’s brother.

I have to say though, the scenes towards the end with Lisbeth inhabiting a completely different persona as a femme fatale is feels a bit off from the rest of the film. The hurried pacing and more glamorous setting makes it feel like a Bond movie (with Lisbeth playing ‘Jane’ Bond) which is amusing given Craig’s casting. Honestly, it took me out of the movie a bit. I enjoyed watching the scenes, it’s just that the whole thing feels incredulous. Perhaps that is the point, Lisbeth going way out of her comfort zone to help someone she cares about.

Despite the gruesome scenes, I actually like this film enough that I might even rewatch it at some point. There are SO much details during the investigation that I likely missed a few things. It also got me intrigued to see the original Swedish versions starring Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth.

WIND RIVER (2017)

A veteran hunter helps an FBI agent investigate the murder of a young woman on a Wyoming Native American reservation.

Written & Directed by: Taylor Sheridan

After seeing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, my hubby and I are craving for more mystery thrillers. I was impressed by Taylor Sheridan‘s impressive writing in Sicario, but haven’t seen anything else he’s done since. Well, he’s definitely no ‘one hit wonder.’

The film opens with a card that says “inspired by true events,” which makes the scene that follows all the more excruciating to watch. A panic-stricken young woman is running in a vast snowy land on the Wind River Indian Reservation with barely enough clothing to survive the harsh climate. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), an expert tracker working for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agency, discovered her frozen body and alerted the FBI. The Feds sent a rookie agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) who arrived from Las Vegas and soon realized this case is way in over her head.

The unlikely partnership between Lambert and Banner is the core of the story and it’s intriguing to watch. The fact that Renner and Olsen worked together in Avengers: Age of Ultron two years prior is amusing, but it’s a testament to their acting that I quickly forgot about that fact as the film progressed. I love that Sheridan’s just as concerned with his characters as he is with solving a murder case, putting this film far and above a typical CSI or Law & Order’s ‘whodunnit’ episode. Soon we learn about Lambert’s past and why this case is so hugely personal to him. Sheridan also toys with our expectations, in a good way, in the way he presents the murder suspects. I’m also impressed by the skilled use of flashback to tell a crucial detail, without spoon-feeding the audience too much details. I also appreciate that the film is not gratuitously violent nor gory.

Renner is particularly strong here in a soulful, emotionally-grounded performance as a man who’ve been through hell and back. Lambert offers a nice contrast to the inexperienced Banner, teaching her the ropes without being condescending. Veteran character actor Graham Greene as the Tribal Police chief Ben plays a crucial role here. “This is the land of you’re on your own.” Ben sheds lights into how the Native American community like Wind River is marginalized and barely gets the attention they deserve, as evidenced by the lack of federal support Banner gets to solve this case. I like Jon Bernthal‘s casting as well which again toys with our expectations given the tough guy roles he often plays.

The desolate setting here is a character in itself, in which the location is pivotal to the story. It’s a bleak film to be sure, but a deeply engrossing one and it’s not without hope. That scene towards the end of Lambert and his friend Martin (Gil Birmingham) is a powerful one that ties well with an earlier scene after the girl’s body’s just discovered. I find myself engrossed in this slow-burn mystery, which also rewards your patience with a satisfying ending. I’d say it’s a pretty strong directorial debut from Sheridan, though it made me curious to see how the film would look like under someone like David Fincher. In any case, Sheridan is definitely a gifted writer and a promising director, I’m definitely keen on seeing more of his work in the future!


So have you seen either one of these films? I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Logan Lucky (2017)

It’s been ages since Steven Soderbergh, though I gotta admit I wasn’t too impressed with his last film Side Effects. But still, glad he didn’t end up retiring after all, and he returns to do a heist action comedy, as Soderbergh himself described, Logan Lucky is an anti-glam version of an Ocean movie (per EW) and it’s definitely much smarter than it looks.

Channing Tatum and Adam Driver play brothers Jimmy & Clyde who attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in Charlotte, North Carolina. It did give me a pause for a moment considering what just happened in that town. In any case, they ended up enlisting an explosive expert aptly named Joe Bang (a hilarious Daniel Craig) to help with the plan. The film’s pacing could’ve been a bit more dynamic but fortunately it’s got enough going for it to keep my attention thanks to the actors’ performance. Watching these actors attempt Southern accent was a hoot, Craig was the most surprising as he’s a Brit but I thought Adam Driver’s accent was spot on and made me giggle every time.

The film offers plenty of laughs. There’s a pretty amusing cameo by Seth MacFarlane doing a spot on Cockney accent. But the funniest moments are during the heist itself, and I do think Craig has a career in comedy once his Bond stints are done. The heist faced some challenges along the way, but there’s a clever twist at the end that made you go ha!

I think the strength of the film is the likable characters. Unlike the handsome, well-dressed smarty-pants like the Oceans’ movies, the Logans and the Bangs siblings are simple folks. They’re essentially nice guys who have been dealt a bad hand at life. Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson (yet another talented Irish actor from the Gleeson family!) as Joe Bang’s two brothers are pretty funny as well. Riley Keough (yep, Elvis’ granddaughter) is pretty decent as the sister of the Logan brothers, and cameos by Katie Holmes as Jimmy’s ex wife and Hilary Swank as a Federal Agent. There’s also a sweet father/daughter relationship between Jimmy and his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie).

I just learned about Soderbergh’s unorthodox distribution deals for this film (made on a relatively low budget of $29 mil). Heh, that’s too bad Logan Lucky didn’t do well as I’d like more filmmakers getting creative control for their work. I hope more people would go and support this movie whilst it’s still in theatres. It’s a zany yet shrewd script by first time screenwriter Rebecca Blunt, who I hope would continue to get more work (that is if that isn’t just a pseudonym). It’s a pretty fun movie that never took itself too seriously, and I find it refreshing that it’s not mean-spirited nor foul-mouthed like so many comedies these days.


Did you see LOGAN LUCKY? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Casino Royale (2006)

CasinoRoyalePoster


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.

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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.

CasinoRoyale4 CasinoRoyale_Vesper

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.

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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.

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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.

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What are your thoughts about ‘Casino Royale’? Does it rank amongst your favorite Bond films?