James Bond exists in a realm all his own. The character, created in 1953 by Ian Fleming, has grown in popularity over the past 60 years. Sean Connery portrayed the character in 1962’s Dr. No and the films grew from there. Beautiful women, fancy suits, fast cars, shaken drinks and exotic gadgets made the movies a cinematic event. The actors changed, but the character remained the same. A smooth, calculated killer with the backing of the British government.
I haven’t watched many of the 007 films. I watched the Pierce Brosnan movies and I liked the action and ridiculous set pieces and espionage plots. It wasn’t until 2006 with Casino Royale that I realized what these movies were capable of and why people loved the character.
Daniel Craig was announced as 007 and fans were uncertain. He had established himself as a great actor, but was untested as a action star… plus he he had blonde hair. Fans complained, speculated and watched reluctantly. When the movie was finally released it was a critical success and commercial success. Craig established himself as the James Bond for our generation in one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen.
Casino Royale is an origin story. Our new James Bond is not as established and isn’t the superhero we all know from previous films. He’s flawed, messy and much more brutal than ever. The movie begins with an incredible parkour chase scene, and its here that we see so much of his character. This movie is stripped down dramatically from the previous entries. No invisible cars, no ice mansions and no laser beans. Just well crafted action scenes and two amazing leads, who replacing campy-ness with grounded and subtle moments. There is also great tension. At the center of the movie is one card game. Without understand it, the movie still builds tension and makes you feel the significance of the mistakes made by our secret agent.
Daniel Craig and Eva Greene have great chemistry as they try and outwit one another. Their relationship is fleshed out over the movie so the ending is heart-wrenching, yet satisfying. The villain, Le Chirffe, has his oddities like the best Bond villains, but he isn’t over the top. The torture scene with him and Bond is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve come to love this movie and it will likely be the best of The Daniel Craig Bond films. It added a great level of depth and pathos to the character, and created a perfect set up for the rest of the series.