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Movies Review

Casino Royale

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Casino Royale
Released on Friday, Nov 17 2006

Director: Martin Campbell
Screenwriter: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench
Running time: 144 mins
Certificate: 12A

The twenty-first movie to be based on Ian Fleming's spy, Casino Royale goes back to James Bond’s (Craig) roots and focuses on his first mission as a Double-O agent. Mads Mikkelsen plays villain Le Chiffre, a shady banker to terrorists worldwide, whom Bond must best in a high stakes game of poker in Montenegro's Casino Royale with the help of Treasury representative Vesper Lynd (Green).

Daniel Craig was, for the rather picky reasons of his being blond and "ugly", was a strangely controversial choice for the role. Granted, his hulkier look sets him apart from the Connerys and Brosnans of the world, but for a successful reinvention of the long-running franchise (44 years now), this was an excellent piece of casting. Far from bringing the series down, Craig helps to make the best of its number for years.

Casino Royale's Bond is a different man in another sense. Under the guidance of Martin Campbell (Goldeneye), our 'hero' is a less likeable character but a much better one for it. What may have appeared to be idle threats from writer Paul Haggis about this being a more gritty, realistic Bond were no exaggeration. When the film begins with a violent black-and-white flashback of the agent making his two kills necessary for Double-O status, we know the filmmakers mean business.

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Fresh as it is, Casino Royale doesn't shirk in delivering the vital elements of the franchise - the action for one is top-notch. After the standard animated opening (backed with a sub-standard theme – most audiences will never have heard of Chris Cornell and nor will they want to again), a truly gripping building site chase scene ensues which sets us firmly in 007 territory. Meanwhile, absent are Q and his gadgets and the flirtatious Moneypenny.

Not that there’s any shortage of flirting. Eva Green holds her own as the first Bond girl Vesper Lynd who is handled much more effectively than her predecessors – not once does she try on a swimsuit. Although the romance side still isn’t handled perfectly, Casino Royale is as about as good as Bond gets in this department.

Variously viewed with anticipation or dread by fans, Casino Royale is exactly what the franchise needs to keep in the game against the Bournes and Missions: Impossible of the world.

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