Bond is back with a bang! Read on:
After over a year of intense media interest, fanboy scrutiny and arduous production, Casino Royale — the 21st James Bond movie — opens this Friday. The Martin Campbell-directed film, based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, is nothing short of an amazing accomplishment. After decades of bloat and self-parody, the franchise has been revitalized. Casino Royale makes 007 cool, relevant and real again.
Campbell has made perhaps his best feature film to date here. Working from a screenplay adaptation by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Oscar winner Paul Haggis, Campbell’s film is a lean, mean thriller about a killer being cultivated into a gentleman spy and the emotional and spiritual toll that transformation takes on him.
Despite what some critics have said, the plot to Casino Royale is relatively simple. Newly minted 00 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig, more on him later) pursues the powers-that-be behind a bomber-for-hire he killed in a very controversial embassy battle. The trail leads the arrogant Bond to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), an enigmatic math genius, gambler and banker to the world’s terrorists.
After 007 foils Le Chiffre’s latest scheme to bilk the stock market using his clients’ money, the villain must win back over $100 million before his clients catch up and kill him. Le Chiffre intends to win back his losses in a high-stakes poker tournament at the titular casino in Montenegro. Bond is the best cardplayer in the service so his boss, M (Judi Dench, the sole holdover from the Brosnan era), assigns him to beat Le Chiffre. MI6 then hopes to bring Le Chiffre in so that he will roll over on his terrorist allies.
Serving as the British government’s “money” and eyes and ears on Bond is Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). She is clearly attracted to 007, but does not succumb to his charms that easily. She is also no mere bimbo; she is a mature woman — a professional and every bit Bond’s mental equivalent. After beating Le Chiffre, Bond finds himself tied naked to a chair and facing torture. What ultimately results from this turn of events is something the misogynistic, sexual conquistador Bond never thought he’d fall victim to: love.
Unable to use the golden gun in his pants for quite awhile, the recuperating Bond genuinely and deeply falls in love with Vesper and they plan on a new life together. She has stripped him of his emotional armor. But before you can never say never again, Bond realizes the bad guys are not quite done with him yet. By the end, Bond is becoming the icy, lethal secret agent — “the blunt instrument” that Fleming envisioned — that men want to be and women want to be with.
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