Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Casino Royale

Now before I start, I should state that I think of course Sean Connery was the best Bond. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy any of the other Bonds; even of late I enjoyed Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. However, after the terribleness that was Die Another Day, with some shocking cg, an instantly forgettable theme tune and plot, the world was crying out for Daniel Craig and Casino Royale. Well, I was anyway.

The plot is based around baddie Le Chiffre, a stock market player for the evil and corrupt. He invests money in an airline stock so that when the shares crash (he plans to blow the brand new flagship plane up to guarantee this) he will make a killing. However, when 007 prevents the plane from blowing up, Le Chiffre is $150m out of pocket. He plans to win this back in a high stakes poker game in Casino Royale in Montenegro. Of course Bond is financed by HM government to play in the game and wins all of the money.

Behind the scenes, everything is contrived by a criminal "Organisation", this is all we know it as. So when Le Chiffre kidnaps bond and his female accomplice (Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green), after some pretty brutal torture, Mr White from the Organisation turns up and kills Le Chiffre, allowing Bond and Vesper to go free. However, as 007 and Vesper fall in love, we find out that the Organisation had previously contacted Vesper and her boyfriend, and the only way the boyfriend will be left alone is if Vesper was planted with Bond with a view to acquiring the poker winnings (I think, all very confusing!).

Anyway, James finds Vesper withdrawing all of the money from the winnings, and this leads to a final shootout in Venice wherein Vesper drowns. But before her death, she did leave a message on her phone to James, giving him the name Mr White and a phone number. The film ends with 007 tracking down Mr White, and saying his name is Bond, James Bond! Quantum of Solace follows on directly from here.

I really do think this is a cracking film. A very gritty begining showing Bond's first kill. Great title sequence with a great song from the man with and incredible voice: Chris Cornell. A tremendous action sequence at the beginning as 007 tries to keep up with a free-running gun-for-hire bomb-maker. A very nicely set up poker game, with enough intrigue in between hands, so we are not just watching a game of cards for 30 mins; and a very interesting plot, not your usual baddie looking for domination over something (world/media/oil).

Gone are all the gadgets, and instead 007 has to think on his feet a lot more; this is a reflection of the popularity of the Bourne series I think. I did like the gadgets (especially in the Sean Connery era), but I think the franchise ended up relying on them too much; on the feet thinking led to a much more fluid story, rather than one that was contrived around some fancy piece of tech. There are a few moments of more familiar bond: telling Vesper that her cover name is Stephanie Broadchest.

Judi Dench is still great as M, being initially indignant at Bond for finding out where she lived, her login for the MI6 network, and her name! But later she is more encouraging, and positively gets behind him in the next film. Daniel Craig as Bond I think is great. He has a roughness to him that a man who will do anything to get the job done should have. He also plays the arrogance part of the character well, as well as managing to be smooth enough when he has to be. I know some people think it's silly to have a blonde haired, blue eyed James Bond, but I don't care, why should it matter? And anyway, Daniel Craig is from the same city as me. Imagine that, I was born in the same city as James Bond! How cool is that?!