Movie #228 2020: Casino Royale (2006)

After a short week long birthday break, The Quayside Review is back! Wahoo! And what better way to kick off the return with my first ever James Bond movie? Yes, you read that correctly. First EVER.

Daniel Craig comes in to take over from the dashing Pierce Brosnan in the lead role of Mr. Bond in the first of his Bond instalments, Casino Royale. In his debut, Craig’s Bond finds himself in a high stakes poker game in Montenegro, intent on beating Bond villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) who plans on using the winnings to infiltrate the ever-growing market of terrorism. The usual action pursuits occur as you’d expect, and Daniel Craig cements himself as the man of the hour for the foreseeable future.

As you’ll already know, this is a franchise that is highly celebrated globally. But why did no one tell me it was going to be corny as hell? One would expect that from the older movies, but I also thought they’d have done away with the cheese by this point. Fun and action-packed it may be, but it was way campier than I was contemplating. Is that a bad thing? It’s neither here nor there.

Of course, most people come to these movies for the high impact gun slinging sequences, and the high octane action sequences were great here, even if they do play up all the typical spy movie tropes. (Burner phones, GPS chips, sleight of hand trickery, etc.) It’s easy to forgive such a thing however when many would credit this series with the one who originated such gimmicks. Would it even be Bond without its inspector gadget-esque tchotchkes?

Obviously I can’t compare this to other Bond movies with Casino Royale being my first one, but there’s something about Daniel Craig that doesn’t work for me. He’s just not charming enough for him to be the suave Bond I (and probably many others) was looking for, but he acts the cheeky aspects well at least. Feel free to disagree; I’m not saying he’s a bad actor, he just doesn’t come across as the smooth Casanova that so many associate with Bond.

Despite having a lukewarm reaction to Craig as Bond, Mads Mikkelsen has the perfect super villain demeanour with that creepy face to match. Eva Green is a highlight too and makes a strong “Bond girl”, as they like to say. In that regard, the secondary cast were very well selected.

Although I definitely had no problem following what was going on despite never seeing another Bond film, this is an extremely overly convoluted story line. It does keep a good pace for the most part, but there’s way too much build up and way too much faffing around for anyone to become truly engrossed by it. Weirdly, the most enjoyable sequences were the poker scenes in which very little action actually takes place, probably because they provide the most tension. 

Overall, this is definitely a film that improves as the run time ticks on, but it’s highly unlikely that this is the best Bond film of all time. It was enjoyable enough as a campy action movie, and there are some interesting stylings in terms of cinematography, but things can only go up from here I guess!

Casino Royale is available to rent on Amazon for £3.49 in the UK.

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