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Revisiting "Casino Royale"


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#1 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 27 May 2015 - 01:08 PM

"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.

 

 

 



#2 Turn

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Posted 27 May 2015 - 10:49 PM

These thoughts are pretty much the same as mine. Nearly a decade later it still holds up, still feels fresh and was indeed the boldest move Eon has made since Cubby's passing.



#3 DaveBond21

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 12:58 AM

The first 50 minutes of this movie are excellent, as good as anything that we have seen before. The casino scenes are good but it does drag on a long time and unusually for a Bond movie, the biggest stunts are already behind us. There are a lot of interruptions to the card game and this does tend to get too much at one point.

 

It is a long movie, but I do love the scenes in Venice (minus the fight) and the last scene.

 

A great Bond movie, one of the best.



#4 tdalton

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 02:39 AM

 Instead it breathes fresh air into the formula, opening it up for more to come.

 

 

 

I like Casino Royale on its own merits (I don't think much of it as an adaptation of Fleming's novel, though), but I think this is one of those areas where they dropped the ball.  The  formula's presence just hovers over this film all the way through.  They generally don't do things entirely by the checklist, but instead the constant need to attempt to subvert it at every single turn is distracting a bit.  If ever there was a time to completely ditch the formula and truly try something new, Casino Royale was it.  



#5 sharpshooter

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 04:21 AM

It would be a mistake to ditch the formula, in my opinion. Like it or not, that's what Bond is known and loved for. The formula is what gives the series its charm. The challenge is to do the same thing but differently. So inverting the old tropes was the right choice, and did make the series feel fresh without throwing the baby out with the bath water. The film works because we know what went before so well. "Shaken or stirred? - "do I look like I give a damn?" received a big laugh at every screening I attended. 



#6 Safari Suit

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Posted 30 May 2015 - 06:01 PM

Confession time; never really got it. While I remember enjoying Batman Begins a lot at the time, I quickly grew tired of the 00s trend of demythologising, somewhat central here. Perhaps no Bond film is free of embarrassing dialogue, but that which I find here ("If all that were left of you were your smile..." etc.) I feel to be devoid even of any potential kitsch value. I never bought the supposedly great chemistry between Craig and Green, the humour, as in Nolan's films, seemed more like a mannered attempt at avoiding portentousness than any natural wit or desire to provoke actual laughter, and frankly I just don't have that much interest in cards. Couple all that with Martin Campbell's IMO somewhat undynamic style and you've got a Bond film I appreciate is certainly in the upper echelons technically, but on a personal level it's one of the ones I'm least likely to pull off the shelf.

 

None of that is to say I didn't consider it a decent night at the pictures, and it certainly has some fine moments. I also have some fond memories of the film's release; aside from it coming out in a very enjoyable and exciting period of my life, it also rekindled an interest in Bond which had lay dormant for some years. I had been too pre-occupied with being a teenager to pay much attention to Die Another Day's release, but in the wake of Casino Royale I was watching the films, listening to the scores, and reading the Flemings (and Gardners!) like nobody's business. Not to mention I registered on a certain online forum...

 

I haven't revisited the film (at least in full) since the Summer of 2008, and I learned to love the Craig era over the following two films (yes, I loved QOS on its release). I'm prepared to say I may eat my words when I revisit it sometime (hopefully before SPECTRE's release), but for the time being this is one sacred cow I'm prepared to leave grazing in other's fields.

 

 

 

 



#7 byline

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Posted 23 November 2015 - 05:46 AM

I just watched Casino Royale again (no idea how many times I've watched it; at least dozens) this evening. I still consider it not only a great Bond film, but a great film, period. What really strikes me is the humanity in Craig's Bond, which is largely missing from his subsequent portrayals. Not missing altogether, mind you. But it's as if he sees in Vesper a way to reconnect with what's left of his humanity ... and then her betrayal severs that connection altogether. We see flashes of it later on, but here we feel its most sustained presence. That, for me, was a big part of my disappointment with Quantum of Solace. And yet, that loss of humanity really is the story, isn't it?



#8 stamper

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Posted 23 November 2015 - 08:19 AM

Best Bond film ever made. Why? Oh, that's because the subject of this film is Bond. The man.






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