Inferno Reviews: Casino Royale

You know his name: Bond, James Bond. He’s the man almost any given guy would love to be. From the Aston Martins to the shaken (not stirred) martinis, and not to mention the numerous gorgeous women, Bond is an icon. But in the latest film, director Martin Campbell brings out the roots of Bond from Ian Fleming’s 1953 original Casino Royale.

This time, 007 is born through Daniel Craig (Renaissance, Munich). This is a very different Bond than his predecessor’s, Pierce Brosnan. The story follows James Bond’s promotion to “00” status and his first mission. Brash, arrogant, and very egocentric (yet very charming and cool), Bond is matched up with a mysterious terrorist organization. The terrorists, although not a huge surprise, work around airplanes, but the film takes it a step further. They deal with not the planes themselves, but the flight stocks and stock market in general.

The film’s title centers much on the Montenegro poker game hosted by Le Chiffre (Mads Mikklesen). Le Chiffre, one of the terrorist leaders, is a mathematical genius and likes to prove it through games of poker (he also carries around a very slick inhaler). Bond’s intelligence is put to the test, not only to beat Le Chiffre, but to overcome the incredibly deceitful terrorists. The film takes some time to make the point of the plot obvious, but not too long to divert attention.

Ultimately, Bond must face certain personal obstacles along the way to become the MI6 agent everybody has come to know. He’s darker and grittier; he can come up with an instant solution but still think it through.

Judi Dench returns again as MI6’s head and Bond’s “main woman,” M. Certainly different than M in the past, she’s somewhat mother-like, however rightfully so. Dealing with Bond in this situation is similar to a frustrated mother dealing with their child who just received their driver’s license.

The coveted Bond girl spot winds up in Eva Green’s hands this time, and blows her previous few predecessors away. Armed with not only beauty but incredible intelligence as well, Vesper Lynd is a strong character and well developed. Green easily overshadows Denise Richards and Halle Berry.

For the Bond enthusiasts, the trademark is back. Not only is there one Aston Martin to drool over, but there are in fact two: a vintage 50s Aston and a brand new 2007 DBS. However, both make not much more than cameo appearances, although the latter of the two does receive more screen time. Also, the film stays rather true to Fleming’s story. There were major changes that needed to be made, however: the terrorists needed to be substituted for the Communists, and more action was added in to make a more interesting film.

Hands down, Craig’s performance is the pinnacle of the film. Heavily criticized earlier in the year, Craig actually delivers a better performance than Pierce Brosnan has in the past 10 years. The physicality being the most notable part, Craig pulls off the transition to 007 very well, and combined with charm and wit, makes for a more convincible James Bond. Finally, his delivery of “The” line is, to say the least, excellent.

Essentially, a brand new fire has been pushed into the James Bond series, one of the longest running film franchises in history. Campbell and Craig deliver this in just the nick of time, as the Bond series was starting to take a nose dive. Well balanced between action and downtime, along with very well timed humor, make Casino Royale one of the better 007 films and more than worth seeing.