CASINO ROYALE (2006) ****

*NOTE* The utterly esteemed and superlative JAMES BOND PROJECT was initially masterminded by my fabulous good friend CRAIG KENNEDY of LIVING IN CINEMA

We always wanted to do something like this. I am just so proud and exceptionally pleased to be a part of it. So I thank him (from the bottom of my black Irish heart) for the opportunity of a lifetime.

It’s been a blast…

The YouTube clip at the bottom just celebrates various moments from CASINO ROYALE, all set to the classic JOHN BARRY theme.

So that concludes CINEMATIC PASSIONS’ look at the JAMES BOND extravaganzas. If you read any of it, hope you had fun.

Tomorrow we will return to our regularly scheduled programming….

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The 2006 version of CASINO ROYALE is a most spectacular BOND feature. It’s also extremely unusual in its own way.

It is at once classic, retro and an entirely clean slate. It’s tough and gritty. But at the heart of it is a haunting star crossed romance.

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In essence, it is the beginning of the BOND saga all over again.

Though the action sequences are flawless and well integrated, there is no mythic embellishment to them. The stunts are sensational. But it’s all grounded in reality. You are acutely aware (many times over) that JAMES BOND is merely a man and that he could be badly injured or hurt irreparably.

DANIEL CRAIG is a magnificent revelation.

He’s similar to TIMOTHY DALTON in some respects. They are both incredible actors with serious talent, great respective range and extensive theatrical backgrounds. Both of them are dangerous alpha males that you wouldn’t mess with more than once.

But while TIMOTHY DALTON is classically handsome, DANIEL CRAIG is ruggedly sexy.

TIMOTHY is dashing and refined. DANIEL is raw and ferocious.

It’s the difference between a sleek black panther and a raging lion. They’d both eat you alive. They’d just have differing ways of getting to that point.

There is also another significant change with this film. BOND was always the ultimate man’s man. He has a taste for flavourful martinis and beautiful women. He was set up to be the quintessential player.

In CASINO ROYALE, that convention has been entirely turned on its ear. FOR GOOD.

DANIEL CRAIG has an astonishing physique and ice cold stark blue eyes worthy of vivid unforgettable dreams – the kind that you just can’t shake.

There is one noteworthy scene where he rises up out of the water in form fitting blue bathing trunks, in accordance with the wondrously desirable women who came before him – URSULA ANDRESS in DR. NO and HALLE BERRY in DIE ANOTHER DAY.

JAMES BOND as sex symbol…? Hot as hell.

All that glamour and sensuality is an explosively chemical mix.

CASINO ROYALE was produced to be close to the original story. It has a harder driving edge and is more representative of the kind of movie that IAN FLEMING would appreciate.

It begins with a glossy black and white flashback centred in Prague. You can’t achieve 007 status until you have two official kills accounted for. This is where you see James take the first couple of men out.

James has a complicated relationship with M (the fantastic JUDI DENCH). She is often angry and annoyed with him, while he enjoys ruffling her feathers and mocking her. But the two have a significant connection that’s more monumental than either of them will give credence to. They would die rather than admit it – even to themselves.

But there is a huge amount of respect and mutual admiration between them. Though she doesn’t hold back from cracking the whip, James would have to do something entirely unreasonable to ever alienate M completely.

They care about each other a great deal. That will never go away. Whatever they have simply runs too deep.

LE CHIFFRE (MADS MIKKELSEN) is the central villain here. He’s actually not terribly interesting. Some of the supporting characters that are introduced around the time of the big poker game at the luxurious CASINO ROYALE (the superb GIANCARLO GIANNINI as the double dealing MATHIS and JEFFREY WRIGHT as the sharp sardonic FBI operative FELIX LEITER) are far more intriguing.

Director MARTIN CAMPBELL (GOLDENEYE, THE MASK OF ZORRO) has a feel for the grand ambitiousness of this motion picture. He’s aware of how to integrate all the splendid facets together and fashion a genre masterpiece that will stand the test of time.

He is assisted in this enterprise by the excellent cinematographer PHIL MEHEUX and the superb costume designer LINDY HEMMING – both BOND veterans.

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But the central focus of the story is the tragic romance between JAMES BOND and VESPER LYND.

(The stunningly exotic French actor EVA GREEN plays a Brit with ease and grace. Her accent is a little off. But she’s so darkly glamorous and charismatic that you don’t really care.)

She has one of the best entrances of all the BOND women. As James sits quietly on the train, Vesper struts down the aisle – dressed in beautifully tailored black clothes – and takes the seat across from him.

“I’m the money,” she states, lightly but firmly.

“And worth every penny,” he nods approvingly.

It gets better…

Vesper tells him, “I will be keeping my eye on our treasury’s money and off your perfectly formed ass.”

“You noticed,” he retorts.

“Even accountants have imagination,” she informs him briskly.

Though Vesper seems very hard to reach initially, the chemistry between the two of them is scorching. They fall passionately in love. But Vesper has some deep dark secrets that she never shared with James. First out of expedience, then fear and finally a lack of hope.

When he finds out, his world will be shattered. But he is, after all, JAMES BOND.

007 is ultimately a survivor.

CASINO ROYALE is definitely the best BOND film ever made. It has a depth and complexity that makes it an intense, all consuming experience to watch.

DANIEL CRAIG is the main reason why this superior action epic works so well. He and TIMOTHY DALTON are the most fervent masculine representations of JAMES BOND.

He has a breathtakingly iconic scene about half way through the picture where he tries on his tuxedo for the first time. It was at that precise moment that he definitively became JAMES BOND.

There was no going back after that.

Hearing those last two lines of dialogue was feverishly joyful…

DANIEL CRAIG is fabulously compelling. It was his destiny to play JAMES BOND.

When DANIEL CRAIG is on screen it’s impossible to look away. That’s why he will always be considered one of the great BONDS.

There will never be a successful argument on that point…

2 Responses to “CASINO ROYALE (2006) ****”

  1. You’re extraordinarily amusing as always, my precious lil glimster.

    Thanks a bunch for that…

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