Casino Royale is the 21st James Bond film and marks the debut of Daniel Craig in the title role. It serves as an origin story and reboot of Ian Fleming’s 007 character. The film brings the series back to it’s roots, stripping away the gadgets and campy atmosphere that dominated the later films in the series. Casino Royale injects a gritty, grim sense of realism into the franchise.
Craig as Bond
When Daniel Craig was first announced for the role, British tabloid papers lambasted the choice. Craig is blonde, stocky and does not have the same physical attributes as the character of the novels.
However, Craig has proven that the was made for the role. He gives the character a sense of pathos and humanity. The Connery and Moore incarnations played him as a wisecracking killing machine. There were no consequences to their violence. It was just the set up to a punchline.
Craig’s Bond, on the other hand, gives weight to the consequences of his violent actions. From the opening scene we see how brutal and difficult it is for him when he kills. In one scene, after dispatching a henchman he sits in the shower fully clothed, washing the blood off himself and almost weeping.
A Bond film is only as memorable as its henchman. Goldfinger, Blofeld, Scaramanga and Odd Job are some of the iconic men who have squared off against the British spy. Each had a gimmick or character trait that made them memorable for audiences. Sometimes this trait was downright bizarre, such as Scaramanga’s third nipple.
When rebooting Bond as a serious and realistic, it is hard to strike a balance between delivering an interesting villain and avoiding descending into the realm of camp. Doing so would create a clash of tones that could potentially ruin the film.
Luckily, in this case Mads Mikkelsen does a fantastic job of making the villainous Le Chiffre seem believable. He has the look of a classic Bond villain, he cries blood, he is a mathematical genius/ruthless murderer and most importantly, he fits into this new world of 007 perfectly. Le Chiffre is a reminder to the audience of the Bond villains of the past and serves as a link between this film and the twenty that have come before.
Does it Sink or Swim?
So much has changed in this film. When you compare it to the last Bond film to come before this, Die Another Day the two are unrecognisable. Die Another Day was a disaster, the last nail in the franchise’s coffin.
Casino Royale was the shot of adrenaline the 007 series needed. The new dark tone has made audiences take Bond seriously again. It has given Bond a fresh start without sacrificing all the important elements that audiences have come to expect after over 40 years on screen.
The film is a resounding success, perhaps the best Bond film ever made. It has made Daniel Craig synonymous with the role and made spy thrillers popular once more.