Casino Royale Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
November 23rd, 2006

Casino Royale - The Odds are Good and Getting
by Homer Yen
(c) 2006

Migrating towards creator Ian's Fleming's
original vision, Daniel Craig, who steps in as
the 6th James Bond in this storied franchise,
brings a sense of rawness into the character that
could help to usher in a new era of Bond, James
Bond. In fact, there are some shades of the Sean
Connery days that provide homage to classic Bond
when 007 was more about the man and less about
the gadgets. Among some of those references is
when James Bond, with rugged sexiness and all,
emerges from the Caribbean ocean in the style of
Ursula Andress and the 1960s Astin Martin that he
drives around. It just shows that no matter what
the decade, Bond is timeless.

For this newest installment, it's a fresh start
for the spy and the franchise. And, like James
Bond himself, this project is rough around the
edges. It has a mediocre opening title sequence,
noticeably missing the female silhouettes
tumbling and spinning and it is also missing a
catchy theme song. And, as the film moves from
act to act to act and to another act, there are
too many disposable villains and it becomes
difficult keeping track of who's who and what
everyone is trying to do and how they are all
interconnected. In fact, the film is at least 30
minutes too long and could have been even longer,
I suppose. So, some of the dialogue seems
hurried or the explanations truncated which had
me feeling lost by the time I got to the final

But all of that is pretty much forgiven because
of the fast-moving foot chase that occurs in the
opening sequence, which pretty much makes the
film worth the admission price. Props go to
Sebastien Foucan as the fleeing villain who has
the same deft moves as Jackie Chan or Jet Li.
This start shows how athletic Daniel Craig is
because it's no easy task leaping from building
to building and from construction crane to
construction crane.

This Bond is more human, and never borders (like
some other Bonds) on the cartoonish. There are
no pen-bombs or watches with laser beams. He's
attentive and may even find women to be more of a
meaningful pursuit rather than strictly a
disposable pleasure. And this one bleeds. Even
with nicks and cuts all over his face, this is
still one great-looking chap. It's probably
because he is also the best
physically-conditioned Bond.

The story revolves around an international arms
dealer (Mads Mikkelsen) who is plotting various
terrorist-like activities. Part of his plan to
finance it involves a high-stakes no limit
Hold-em tournament, to be held at the Casino
Royale. $10 million buy-in with a $5 million
re-buy. Nothing pumps up the adrenaline more
when your opposing player says fourteen-million
five-hundred-thousand, all in!

The best scenes, however, are not the
Bond-versus-villain ones (except for an amusing
torture sequence). It's actually the few scenes
where he and M (Judi Dench) speak. Their
employee-employer relationship crackles with
hostility and respect. You really can't get
enough of that regal actress and you can easily
understand why some years back she won an Oscar
for Best Supporting Actress ("Shakespeare in
Love") despite being in just 9 minutes of that
film. I liked Daniel Craig who brings a classic
feel to the role. As one character put it, "even
if there was nothing left of you than that smile
and your little finger, you would still be more
of a man than anyone else that I've ever met."
That's a sure bet.

Grade: B+

S: 1 out of 3
L: 1 out of 3
V: 2 out of 3

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