Wookiee Hut Movie Reviews presents:
Casino Royale

Movie Review by Rosie

Director: Martin Campbell

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Densch, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, et al.

Rating: Super Star Destroyer

Where to begin? Well as most Bond fans are aware, when Pierce Brosnan retired from Double-O status, there was much speculation about who the next Bond would be. Few could have imagined that the next Bond would turn out to be the relatively unknown — and blond! — Daniel Craig. His previous credits include Infamous, Munich, and Lara Croft Tomb Raider, but none of those were big roles.

The uproar over a blond Bond even raged in cyberspace generating vociferous opposition on a website called www.danielcragisnotbond.com, which in turn inspired Craig supporters to create www.danielcraigisbond.com. As a longtime Bond fan, I was surprised over Craig's selection, but to be honest, I have not seen his other films so I can't really say whether I could have pictured him in the role before seeing him in it.

Could Barbara Broccoli continue her father's success with the Bond series with the new blond Bond? My answer to that is an unqualified yes.

This film begins with the trademark prologue, although minus the trademark Bond theme music. That is a calculated omission. Bond earns his Double-O status with considerable mayhem and furor in his wake. The trademark bleeding screen shot is woven directly into the action, which is in my opinion an improvement over the previous bleeding screen opening into the prologue sequence, which in some films had nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the movie. In terms of the action, the slam bang chase sequence through the construction site left me breathless and wondering how Bond could run and climb that fast and get slammed around that hard. And that's just the prologue.

The title sequence is beautifully done. As in previous title sequences, Daniel Craig fades in and out of silhouette as he weaves through the animated playing cards that evoke the deadly game that will be the centerpiece of the story.

The villain of the story is an underworld financier, Le Chiffre, whose work funds international terrorism. It is up to Bond to neutralize him. Le Chiffre, is a high stakes gambler, and Bond's mayhem in the prologue has placed him in a precarious position with the terrorists whose money he has taken, risked, and lost. He must recover the funds or pay with his life. No massive, egomaniacal lairs are destroyed in this film, but the action is no less intense for that. A high stakes poker game in the exclusive Casino Royale in Montenegro becomes the battleground between Le Chiffre and Bond. And it turns out to be a game ultimately played to the death.

Bond's final transformation into Double-O Seven comes at a price. Emotional betrayal causes him to create the personal armor he will use to guard his inner self. He is a man of honor who will do whatever he must for Queen and country. In many ways he will be a cold, calculating killing machine, but he is a man who surrendered his heart once and will do so again. It is this which makes him a character one can relate to.

Two characters who were missing from this movie were Miss Moneypenny, "M"'s secretary and "Q", the armorer. There really wasn't anything for Moneypenny to do in this film, but I hope she's not gone for good. The verbal sparring between her and Bond has always been fun to watch. As for "Q", it was lovely to see Desmond Lewellyn's character introduce Bond to his assistant "R", portrayed by John Cleese, in The World is Not Enough, since he was getting ready to retire. The high tech gadgetry that Bond used in this film, he seemed more than familiar with — no doubt through his previous training with MI6. Still, Cleese is the perfect crotchety personality to play the armorer and I hope he will return in Bond 22.

Another character who does make an appearance is CIA operative, Felix Leiter, who will become one of Bond's closest friends. He does help Bond in this film, but only in a very minor way. Plot-wise, there isn't much else he can do in this story, but I hope he too will return in Bond 22 in a more significant way.

My rating for this movie is Superstar Destroyer, but as I said earlier in this review I give Daniel Craig as Bond an unqualified yes. Why the discrepancy? Well… what can I say? Sean Connery, the original Bond, will always be my favorite. But I must say Daniel Craig has convinced me. For one thing, I see the same hard exterior in both actors portraying the role, as well as the same hidden vulnerability. For another, I think the rapport between Densch and Craig as "M" and Bond hits the right mark. She understands him better than he understands himself, and he knows just exactly how far he can push the limits before she will slap him down and put him in his place.

Some interesting trivia if you're into that sort of thing. From Wikipedia: Daniel Craig is the first Bond to have been born after the movie franchise began and after the death of Bond creator, Ian Fleming. Also, when asked, four of the five actors who previously portrayed Bond (Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan) have publicly stated that Daniel Craig was a good casting choice.

If you have never seen a Bond film before, where have you been for the last 40 years??? Go and see this one. If you are a Bond fan, don't count Daniel Craig out. Go and see this movie. You will be very glad you did. I am.

P.S. Don't worry. The Bond theme lives on.

P.P.S. Atta girl, Barbara!

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