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Casino Royale
A return to a more realistic James Bond
Casino Royale
Daniel Craig as the New James Bond.
OPENING WEEKEND: $33,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $116,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

March 3rd, 2006: Secret agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) returns in the 21st installment in the series as he takes on Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker for the terrorists and gambling fanatic. Following their first meeting, Bondís intervention resulted in Le Chiffre losing his clientsí investments. Fearful of the possible consequences, Le Chiffre travels to Montenegro to win his money back. With Bond on his tail ready to foil the villainís plot, the two will meet once again at the Casino Royale no-limit Texas hold Ďem poker table.

What to Expect: The film is an adaptation of the very first Ian Flemming James Bond novel under the same title and as such, it will take the notorious agentís story back to its origins. Apparently, the idea of adapting the first Bond novel for the next film project came from none other than Quentin Tarantino. The cult filmmaker recently expressed his disappointment after the producers failed to contact him following their meeting where Tarantino initially pitched his ideas. He was hoping for an opportunity to direct with his vision in mind, while remaining faithful to the novel and to the general direction of the franchise. The producers graciously adopted Tarantinoís ideas, but decided on a much safer choice for director in Martin Campbell, who filmed the very first Pierce Brosnan Bond entry, GoldenEye. Along with Brosnan, Campbell, who also directed the reasonably entertaining The Mask of Zorro and Vertical Limit, helped resurrect the franchise after a six-year hiatus, the longest pause between any Bond outings. By the time Casino Royale is released, it will have been a four-year gap since Die Another Day, making this the second longest break between any two Bond films. I suppose producers are going with a good luck charm, hoping to replicate their former success.

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The casting choices for the filmís main villain as well as the new Bond girl were announced just in the past two weeks. The Swedish born Mads Mikkelsen (King Arthur) will play Le Chiffre, while French actress Eva Green (Kingdom of Heaven) was chosen for the part of the treacherously seductive spy, Vesper Lynd. Having been around the industry for the past ten years, Mikkelsen is much more prominent in his home country than in the United States. His inclusion in the cast is not likely to attract any attention from the media or the public. The same could be said of Eva Green, however, she is still a relative newcomer to the business since her first film role came in 2003. Considering that it was an incredibly mature and sensual performance in a leading part in Bernardo Bertolucciís astonishing picture The Dreamers, I would venture to say that she has actually had a rather quick start to her career. Two more films followed for Green since then, including another substantial role in last yearís epic Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott. Her enigmatic femininity should be a perfect match for the role, but itís possible that Bond fans were hoping for a more recognizable name after the rumors that Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, and Thandie Newton were all being considered.

On the other hand, Bond enthusiasts have numerous other factors to be concerned about. For the first time ever in all 21 Bond films, Casino Royale will not feature Miss Moneypenny, the playful secretary, whose witty and suggestive interludes with Bond have become one of the staples of the series. Another glaring omission in the movie is the absence of Q, the Secret Serviceís amusing gadget expert and focal point of Bondís many one-liners. This is only the second time his character will not be utilized, and the first time since the eighth Bond film, Live and Let Die. A comparison between the screenplay and the original novel reveals, unsurprisingly to all Bond fans, that poker was not the game of choice in the story. Producers clearly opted for poker instead of the much more appropriate baccarat in order to draw interest from modern audiences. All fans of 007 probably realize that poker is not the type of sophisticated, black-tie affair that Bond usually gets involved in.

All this is truly trivial, however, compared to the type of backlash Daniel Craig has received since it was announced that he would carry on the legacy as the distinguished spy. He has been a controversial choice from the start, primarily as a result of his coarse physical appearance (he is also the first Bond with blond hair) and his questionable past film roles. A website called craignotbond.com has recently turned up on the Internet. Created by a group of devoted fans outraged by the producersí choice to replace the popular Pierce Brosnan with the relatively unknown Craig, the site has been dedicated to bashing the fair-haired actor, urging filmgoers to boycott the movie. In one section, all five former Bond actors are compared and rated, with George Lazenby (who starred in only one film) and Timothy Dalton (who starred in two films) receiving the lowest scores of 7 out of 10. In contrast, as a future Bond, Craig gets a rather unfavorable rating of 0 out of 10. I think thatís more than a bit harsh as hindsight is 20/20 when rating past Bond actors. Would those same critics really have welcomed Australian male-model George Lazenby (who only had one minor film role prior to him being chosen as Bond) with open arms as Sean Conneryís replacement? I doubt they would even be able to look past his nationality since Bond is a British spy. Speaking from the perspective of a sincere fan, who has seen each Bond entry at least twice, and from the view point of an objective critic, I believe Craig is a fine choice for the role. While not as renowned of an actor as Orlando Bloom or Clive Owen, who were also rumored to be in the running for the part, Craig continues the long-running tradition of relative unknowns taking over the ranks. All the previous actors were able to bring something distinctly unique to the series and I, for one, welcome Craigís unconventional looks as a positive. He strikes me as having a rather intimidating presence, which should work favorably in portraying Bond as the cold-blooded killer that he is as opposed to the comical figure that he has become. This is what Dalton was able to bring to the role and itís closer to Ian Flemmingís vision in his novels. To read more about Daniel Craig in one of our WorstPreviews profiles, click here.

Personally, Iíve been looking forward to Casino Royale ever since it was announced that Oscar nominated writer, Paul Haggis, was hired to refine the script. Haggisís inspiring adaptation of Million Dollar Baby for Clint Eastwood earned him a nomination last year. This year he has received nods in writing and directing categories for his tour-de-force film Crash. His participation is welcomed in a franchise that has relied too heavily on bankable formulas over the past thirty years. Understandably, those same formulas have separated the Bond series from the rest of the action-adventure genre, but it would be nice to find some surprises in a Bond story. During the Brosnan era, the films have become exceedingly goofy, gadget-driven, and action packed and have resembled the likes of XXX, The Fast and the Furious, and M:I-2. While those are not necessarily bad movies, they are not the proper direction for the series, which should focus more on espionage than explosions. As a result, I was relieved to hear that Campbell was determined to keep Casino Royale toned down. Qís absence in the film further asserts this notion, although Campbell did mention that gadgets would not be entirely absent from the story. After the excess of Die Another Day, the series needed to return to the fundamentals and what better way to do it than to base it on the original source (none of the last four Bond films were based on any of Ian Flemmingís writing). In hindsight, Campbellís GoldenEye may have been the best of the Brosnan bunch (aside from the awful score) as it kept the outrageousness down to a minimum. The majority of the filming for Casino Royale is taking place in Prague, which is recently being hailed as the new Paris. Abundant in ancient architecture, the city should provide stunning locations reminiscent of the best Bond films, allowing the cinematography to evoke the perfect atmosphere for a stark spy thriller.

In Conclusion: I think there are a lot of intangibles that will come into play and transform Casino Royale into one of the better Bond entries in the series. I enjoyed Pierce Brosnanís performances, but, quite frankly, Iím not disappointed to see him depart after four films. The franchise needed to move in a new direction following the increasingly implausible situations that culminated in the entertaining, but ridiculous Die Another Day. By replacing Brosnan, the producers are unmistakably making a commitment toward the rebuilding process. I feel that Craig should be able to establish himself as a cold and ruthless spy in a stripped down version of Bond. Regardless of what actors are attached or who the filmmakers are, the James Bond franchise will survive and continue to entertain the worldís audiences. Brosnanís departure may prove to be unpopular at first and Casino Royale may suffer in decreased ticket sales, but it will not fail as some suggest. Personally, Iím looking forward to this entry with more enthusiasm and anticipation than I felt toward any of the Pierce Brosnan 007 movies.

Read About "Bond 22".

Similar Titles: GoldenEye, The Living Daylights, For Your Eyes Only, The Bourne Identity
November 17th, 2006 (wide)
March 13th, 2007 (DVD)

Sony Pictures

Martin Campbell

Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Simon Abkarian, Ivana Milicevic, Caterina Murino, Tobias Menzies, Clemens Schik, Ludger Pistor, Claudio Santamaria, Michael Offei, Jesper Christensen

Total: 383 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity

144 min





Casino Royale at AskMen.com

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