Casino Royale is Daniel Craig’s first Bond movie. It was the first of the Bond books written, it is Bond’s first written assignment and it was an attempt to take the Bond series in a different direction with the movie. With this Bond movie and Quantum of Solace Hollywood attempted to go in the same direction as Bourne with a confusing plot, lots of action and a somewhat realistic spy look. Both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace deal with the same plot line. Quantum of Solace picks up where Casino Royale leaves off with the most blatant cliff hanger we have ever gotten in a Bond movie. However, Quantum of Solace is not nearly as good as this movie. Quantum of Solace takes things too far out of this world while Casino Royale sticks with a more down to earth plot centered around a card game. Casino Royale is one of only two Bond stories to be made more than once. It was actually made three times. It was made in 1950 as a TV special that while not having much in the way of sets was actually pretty good with a good villain actor named Peter Lorre. It was made again the late 1960s with David Niven as a comedy that might have been the inspiration for the Austin Powers movies because it is the first Bond parody, but it was poorly made and is one of the weakest Bond movies. I don’t even consider it an official Bond movie. Most of the time I disregard it. The Daniel Craig version was probably the best. Thunderball was the only other Bond story to be made more than once. It was remade as Never Say Never Again.
Daniel Craig is probably one of my lesser favorite Bonds. I do not think that he has much going for him. He is kind of like Matt Damon playing Jason Bourne. He is one of the more serious Bonds. It seems that the Bonds generally alternate between serious and humorous if you don’t count George Lazenby in only one Bond movie. Connery was serious, Moore was humorous, Dalton was serious again, Brosnan went back to humorous and now Craig is the new serious Bond. Maybe the next Bond actor will be a more humorous Bond again who will add some extra fun to the Bond movie series.
Casino Royale is about a criminal who has been using money for his own gain that he has gotten from other criminals. He has a bomb maker and bomb person try to destroy a plane to make some money in the stock market. However, Bond kills and stops both the bomb maker and the bomber before they can destroy the plane, so Le Chiffe loses around one hundred million dollars. Le Chiffe then tries to win the money back with a poker game. However, Bond must win the poker game so that Le Chiffe will turn to MI6 for protection from the criminals who are out for his blood and he can tell them many things that they would want to know about criminals.
Bond gets his double O status by killing a couple of people at the beginning of the movie. He then takes down a bomb maker after a great chase scene, probably one of the best chase scenes I have seen in any Bond movie, and a bomber before they can destroy an airplane. Bond then plays Le Chiffe in a poker game. During the poker game Bond saves Le Chiffe from a couple of guys who are demanding their money back. Le Chiffe in gratitude tries to poison Bond so that he can win the poker game. Bond wins the poker game and is then captured by Le Chiffe. Le Chiffe then tortures Bond through nefarious means to get the money back. However, some other criminals show up to kill Le Chiffe and save Bond. Bond does not know until later why they had spared him. Bond finds out that he has been betrayed and tries to get the money back, which leads to a fight in a building that collapses in the water.
While Le Chiffe is torturing Bond Bond lightens the mood by making some one liners such as telling Le Chiffe to scratch a certain spot or do it more on the right. Le Chiffe finds his jokes amusing as well.
There is some suspense when Bond is poisoned. He tries to prevent himself from having a heart attack with a defibrilator. However, he almost dies because the defibrillator becomes disconnected until Vesper, the woman she is working with who he ends up having a close relationship with, shows up to save his life. There is also some suspense when the winnings are stolen from Bond and Bond has to stop the people from stealing the money. There is some suspense during the action scene at the airport because Bond is taken down by the police and you think that the terrorist will manage to destroy the plane until we find out that Bond has actually cleverly attached the bomb to the belt of the terrorist.
Bond is helped in this movie by Felix Leither. This time Felix Leiter is black while in most of Bonds movies Felix Leiter is portrayed by a white man. I wish they would stick with one race for Felix Leiter if Felix Leiter is supposed to be the same person and not multiple agents. It’s like turning the Green Lantern from a white guy suddenly into a black guy for the sake of political correctness. I don’t mind having some black protagonists. Quite frankly I wish there were more of them. However, the race should not be changed of a character because it throws off the continuity. This time Felix Leither helps Bond by giving Bond some money because Felix is playing in the same card game as Bond and Le Chiffe. Felix does not do any help for Bond in combat in this movie, but he does save Bond from being knocked out of the game and having the terrorists get a lot of money.
Vesper Lynd is the main woman in this Bond movie. She is attractive but has a snooty personality. She is not very tough or independent, although she likes to pass herself off as such. Quite frankly I do not know what Bond sees in her. She ends up being one of the Bond women he most likes and considers leaving the service so he could be with her. If I were Bond I’d be more attracted to Pam Bouvier or Wai Lin, but that’s just me. We all have our different tastes in women.
The villain in this movie named Le Chiffe is kind of your average Bond villain. He’s actually kind of non threatening. Instead of being your typical Bond villain who is planning some grand scheme such as taking over the world all Le Chiffe is trying to do is save his ass from being terminated by some criminals by winning a lot of money in a poker game. There are other criminals in this movie who are even bigger than he is, though, who end up killing Le Chiffe and lead to the death of Bond’s second biggest love in an elevator. The organization that these other criminals belong to would come in the next movie, which is a direct sequel called Quantum of Solace.
The theme song for this Bond movie is great. It has some great guitar work and vocals from Chris Cornell. I do not know much about Chris Cornell aside from the facts that he made this Bond theme song and he collaborated with Slash on a song for an album that Slash made in 2010. However, this song by Chris Cornell is great.
The settings for this movie are kind of average. A large part of the movie takes place in a casino. However, Bond has been in enough casinos for all of those casinos to kind of blend together. The most interesting setting I think in this Bond movie is when he has a fight in a building that eventually sinks into the water. For a building to fall into the water the way this building does it must have been built on the water, which leads me to believe that the action scene took place in Venice.
This is yet another of the more realistic Bonds in which Bond does not get a whole lot of gadgets. He does have defibrillator that he uses to jump start his heart or to quote Vince Neil kick start his heart. Fortunately, he doesn’t end up freaking out the way Nikki Sixx does, although that might have been funny to watch.
Tomorrow we will be starting my top three favorite Bond movies, which are clearly separate from the other ones in terms of their quality. Casino Royale due to its good music, plot and action is a pretty good Bond movie IMO, too, though. I find it a shame that this movie has to be directly followed by such an absolute travesty as Quantum of Solace.