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Casino Royale (2006)

I’ve heard it said that the only James Bond film that matters is the one released when you’re in high school. Certainly that’s true for me. During the era of the “gritty reboot,” 007 reintroduced himself in the form of the intense but soft-spoken Daniel Craig, clearly relishing the role with a sense of fun and wit and physicality that would be diminished in his later appearances.

Watching this movie actually made me kind of nostalgic and emotional, bringing me back to when I was 18. That, in turn, made me vulnerable and receptive to the film’s emotional final hour, which works nearly as well as all the action and espionage that is, of course, the main attraction.

Holy moley is Eva Green amazing and beautiful in this — a perfect foil for Craig. Vesper is easily the best Bond girl, in my opinion, even if the chain of double-crosses and deceptions surrounding her get a hair convoluted by the film’s end.

The set pieces are nearly all outstanding, from the opening parkour through the final sinking house in Venice. Even the oft-derided poker segments hold up pretty well: It offers good drama and low-key acting, even as that thread drags on a bit long.

The film’s biggest problem is that it’s almost 145 minutes long, which is The Devil’s Runtime when it comes to blockbusters. Trim it down, people. But it more or less earns that length — nearly every scene had me saying “ooh this is a good part.”

Is It Good?

Exceptionally Good (7/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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2 replies on “Casino Royale (2006)”

I’m not much of a fan of the Craig era of Bond, but this is a good one and pretty easily his best imo. But I’ve always thought it was lame that he wins the poker game because he gets a straight flush – right after talking about how poker isn’t about having the best cards. Also, I wish they hadn’t tried to soften Vesper’s final betrayal of Bond by saying that Le Chiffre’s people had threatened to kill her lover if she didn’t cooperate. Just have her betray Bond because that’s what she wants to do. Let him (and us) see the dangers of a spy becoming vulnerable and open with someone he doesn’t know very well. Making her be essentially forced into her ‘betrayal’ feels weak to me… like the character didn’t really make her own decision, because the movie was afraid to have Bond (and us) dislike her too much. Still, not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

The poisoning sequence during the poker game is awesome.

Great call on the film undercutting Vesper’s betrayal. It definitely pulls that punch where the movie would be better if it didn’t.

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