"Casino Royale" (re-watch)
What is left to say about this one?
It was right to cast Daniel Craig. Not because Pierce Brosnan wasn´t any good, at least I don´t think so. But because EON needed to show: James Bond is not about men who look like the common idea about the character. Instead, James Bond is about a certain kind of man. Someone who was not James Bond from the start but turned into that character, due to circumstances which molded him into someone who is living on the edge because that´s where he belongs, someone who is a trained assassin, therefore someone whose emotional connections to others are short lived and constantly threatened, someone who tries to smile death in the face and enjoys the only life he can live.
All that Daniel Craig manages to convey in CR, a film that really feels like two because it changes after the first hour from an action piece into a more character-oriented thriller. That doesn´t make it any less good but it slightly keeps it from being a perfect Bond film because I can´t shake off the feeling that either more action in the second part or less action in the first would have balanced everything better. However, I do like the first half a lot - the action sequences are brilliant and better than everything since, well, at least the motor bike chase in TND. And to have less of it would probably have lessened the impact of the whole.
CR definitely shines throughout with the best two main performances of any Bond film - Craig and Eva Green -, and that, of course, is essential since this film is also a love story, and for that to work both leading actors needed to be convincing. To me, they are. So much so that when Vesper finally decides to die and puts her face one last time in Bond´s hand, it is heartbreaking and brings tears to my eyes.
Martin Campbell directs this scene fabulously as well, with the sound being drowned out under water, and David Arnold´s haunting love theme playing with great subtlety.
The whole film is one of the best directed Bond films of the series, with Campbell proving that he can do action, tension and character scenes, and he also proves that he did understand what EON was after: a Bond film that actually is a great film on its own.
Everybody involved seems to have been re-energized, attempting to do their best work yet, and especially after watching DAD and TWINE, CR is a revelation, a total resurrection. Suddenly, Bond is not just going through the motions anymore or stiffened by conventions. Instead it breathes fresh air into the formula, opening it up for more to come.
That EON actually tried this is probably one of the biggest and most courageous gambles in the history of film franchises. Usually, success breeds complacency and the desire to stick with what´s working.
CR proves that there is bigger success in risking everything.