RECAP: Casino Royale

Casino Royale (2006): Martin Campbell

Pierce Brosnan’s final turn as 007 was probably his worst. Die Another Day was bombastic, even for the James Bond franchise. Producers wanted a different take, so they brought in a new guy, a tougher guy, Daniel Craig.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: James Bond earns his stripes, falls in love, and wins a crucial poker game, all to have it crash around him. 

Hero (6/10)

Who’s old is new again, as James Bond gets the reboot treatment that swept the film industry starting with the new century. First, we need a new Bond. Daniel Craig is the man. A face as hard as a diamond, his appears as if it’s taken a few licks. He’s just the man for the new Bond, because this agent begins Casino Royale without his double-O status.

Casino Royale opens in black and white. Prague, Czech Republic, is the location where Bond waits in a man’s office. The man has been stealing from M (Judi Dench, reprising her role), Bond’s boss, and Bond is there to make amends. The dapper thief isn’t worried because he knows MI-6 would only send a double-O to kill a man of his stature, and Bond isn’t one of them.

Intercut with this scene is a brutal fight in a dingy bathroom. Bond tosses a shaggy-haired contact around and into the porcelain, trying to flush out the mole. The man Bond interrogates in his office asks how his contact died. “Not well,” Bond says, as we watch him drown the man in a sink. Still, the bad guy is confident. He draws out a pistol and squeezes the trigger. It’s empty. “I know where you keep your gun,” Bond says. An important skill in spy craft.

Oh hello.

The man, whoever he is, is being very helpful in informing the audience of qualifications necessary to become the Technicolor James Bond we’ve grown to love during several decades. You see, it takes two kills to become 007. The contact in the bathroom was the first. The man says to Bond, “The second is–” and he doesn’t finish his statement because Bond shoots him in the head. Bond says, “Yes, considerably.”

Cue the opening credits. Hell yeah.

Vicious and monkishly silent, we learn plenty about the new Bond in that opening black-and-white sequence. Gone are the more swaggering aspects of the Roger Moore era, replaced with stabbings and running, lots of running. Craig’s Bond is more Terminator than cad, though he does show a taste for married women. He doesn’t even have a preference for his martini being shaken or stirred!

Another huge change comes to Bond via Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a member of the Treasury in charge of funds used to bankroll an important poker game at the titular casino. Bond falls in love with her and resigns from MI-6 a few days after meeting her. We have seen Bond get married before, but that was once and 30 years prior.

This new Bond differs from his predecessor in that he seems miserable most of the time. Given Craig’s public crankiness about the role, perhaps he never liked the job and the distaste showed up on screen.

There’s a plot to Casino Royale. Bond tracks a bomb maker to Madagascar and kills him after a spectacular action sequence for the ages. He finds evidence, a single word “ELLIPSIS” and uses it and his agency to eventually trail a man named Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) and a plot to blow up a prototype jet in Miami.

Bond foils this plot and it leads him and Le Chiffre to collide in the real action of Casino Royale, a poker game. Will Bond succeed? Read on.

Villain (6/10)

Le Chiffre is a banker to the world’s terrorists. Average folks don’t find bankers that appealing, but what happens when your client list consists of terrorists? Well, you get attacked in your hotel room by machete-wielding maniacs.

That’s what happens to Le Chiffre after he loses more than $100 million in a failed attempt to devalue the stock of Skyfleet Airlines. The Ugandan baddies he’s financing nearly chop off his girlfriend’s arm. Le Chiffre doesn’t bat an eye at the prospect. He’s a ruthless, emotionless automaton who knows math better than most humans, fleecing people at poker aboard his yacht.

Le Chiffre sets up the Casino Royale poker game to refund his clients. He wins most of the hands, but not the final one in this winner-take-all tournament.

Aaahh freak out!
Le Chiffre, Le Chiffre.

He gives away his tell early, only to fake it later and fool Bond out of his first $10 million buy in. He has his girlfriend poison Bond, and he notices when the spy changes his shirt.

Mads Mikkelsen is one of my favorite working actors. His dull face gives nothing away, and that’s what Le Chiffre does. Could any ol’ actor pull off this role? I doubt it.

It also helps that Le Chiffre has a clouded eye that leaks blood a few times. Le Chiffre plays it off as a poorly formed tear duct. Sure, Le Chiffre, sure. You just wanted to appear villainous. Mission accomplished.

Bond’s and Le Chiffre’s finest sequence is, of course, the ball-smacking torture aboard a rusting cargo ship. Few scenes in any movie are as cringe-worthy as these.

Le Chiffre needs the password to the account where the poker winnings sit. It’s Le Chiffre’s life on the line. He has a naked Bond strapped to a chair. Le Chiffre muses on the simplicity of torture as he slaps a knotted rope over Bond’s shoulder. Standing a few feet away, Le Chiffre taps the knot onto Bond’s undercarriage. It’s a long rope, and worse tortures are to come.

“You’ve taken good care of your body,” Le Chiffre muses. “What a waste.” He twirls up that rope and smashes it into Bond’s testicles. Bond yips and yells, but he doesn’t yield the password. There will be “little left to identify you as a man.”

Le Chiffre must destroy Bond’s nuts. It’s hard to believe they could survive even one rope attack, and he endures more than one. Bond does more than endure, he chuckles. He tells Le Chiffre he has an itch down there, which Le Chiffre happily scratches with another rope strike.

Just dudes hanging out, slapping balls.

Bond laughs again. “Now the whole world’s going to know you died scratching my balls.” “I died?” Le Chiffre asks. He knows the British will accept him and his knowledge of terrorist networks no matter what he does to Bond.

Well, Bond turns out to be correct, because moments before Le Chiffre is to cut off his balls he’s saved by a shifty fellow named Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who bursts in and puts a bullet in Le Chiffre’s eye. It’s a surprising ending for the film’s primary villain; however, Le Chiffre is in the movie not enough to make it so shocking a loss.

Action/Effects (3/10)

Casino Royale‘s best action sequence is, by far, the opening chase through a Madagascar construction site. It’s discussed in the stunts section, because it’s all stunts with a side of explosions. Bookended with another terrific sequence in a sinking Venice building, the movie has two stout pillars supporting the 144 minute epic Bond reboot. And the movie needs those pillars, because the middle of the movie sags onto a plush floor of green felt atop a card table in Montenegro’s Casino Royale.

Lots of climbing on trucks in Casino Royale.

Watching a movie with the word “casino” in its title should clue a viewer onto a visit to said casino. Casino Royale is a crash course in Texas Hold-‘Em poker at the time when the game was its most popular in the United States.

Le Chiffre hosts a poker game at the casino to regain the $100+ million he lost after Bond foiled the Skyfleet plot in Miami. He invites Bond and some other saps to buy in for $10 million, with a possible $5 million rebuy-in should they lose all their money. The winner takes all, potentially $150 million.

The Casino Royale game offers everything that defines the Bond franchise: men in tuxedos, women in low-cut dresses, gilt decorations, gorgeous cars, the exact lifesaving gadget at the necessary time, Bond killing some guys, lead actors’ repartee, and one-liners.

M allows Bond to play the game because he’s the best player in MI-6. “Trust me,” she says, “I wish it wasn’t the case.” Bond meets Vesper on his journey there and he checks into the casino hotel discarding his agency-assigned cover.

Vesper finds his arrogance distasteful, and Bond starts the mansplaining of poker to Vesper. Le Chiffre knows who Bond is and still wants to play him, so why not dispense with the chicanery? Besides, Bond now knows that Le Chiffre is desperate or overconfident. “And now he knows something about you,” Vesper says. “He knows you’re reckless.” Vesper boards the elevator and forces Bond to take the next one. “There isn’t enough room for me and your ego. Hand to Vesper.

Bond and Vesper meet their contact, Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), who has the local chief of police arrested to help their cause in the country. Pretty soon Bond gets down to business, sitting at the table with Le Chiffre and eight other marks for the poker game of the century. Many new faces, but a lady from Le Chiffre’s yacht game is there. What a sucker this woman is to be playing the world’s best player again.

The players get going and Le Chiffre wins all the early hands. Bond, too, because he has a stack as large as Le Chiffre’s, but we don’t see his wins. Instead we watch the first showdown between the two.

Bond has a decent, unknown hand that appears to beat Le Chiffre on each step until the final card, when Le Chiffre’s two pair turn into a full house. Bond folds his hand to learn Le Chiffre’s tell, which he tells to Vesper: Le Chiffre twitches his eye when he bluffs.

They play poker for four hours before breaking for an hour. That’s when a real action scene starts up. Le Chiffre returns to his room to find two Ugandans threatening to cut off his girlfriend’s arm. Le Chiffre utters not a peep about that, his most villainous act in the movie.

The two goons leave Le Chiffre’s room as Bond and Vesper stake it out. Suddenly a fight breaks out. Into the stairwell go the two bad guys, Bond, and Vesper. Vesper is not a skilled fighter, so she runs down the stairs, nearly trips, and tries to open any door, but they seem to be locked.

Vesper stays steps ahead of Bond, who is not so much fighting as dodging the machete slices from the other goon. Upon entering the stairwell, Bond through one guy over the railing and to his death five floors below.

The trio descends the stairs to the ground floor in the thankfully little-used stairwell, where Bond maneuvers the bad guy into a choke hold and chokes the life from him. Vesper watches, and her face is a picture of horror.

Bond has Mathis dispose of the bodies and returns to the poker game, his knuckles battered. Le Chiffre recognizes his opponent has changed his shirt, but he doesn’t thank him for killing the guys threatening his life (since he probably knows about it). Rude.

It appears they play for another four hours, as Bond later returns to his hotel room and finds Vesper taking a cold shower with her dress on. He sits down and warms up the shivering Vesper. So gentle, this Bond.

The next morning the eight remaining players return to the table. A massive hand follows, in which Bond bets, Le Chiffre raises Bond, who raises Le Chiffre, who forces Bond to go all in. Bond thinks he’s won; he’s seen The Tell. He flips his cards and shows a king and ace, making a full house. Le Chiffre shows three jacks, until he reveals the second jack underneath the other, making four jacks. Monsieur Le Chiffre wins, knocking Bond out.

Bond doesn’t take the loss well. Vesper refuses to refund him. He calls her a “bloody idiot.” Now who is rude, James? Bond stalks off, finds a steak knife, and is prepared to stab Le Chiffre when he’s stopped by another player, an American named Felix, a “friend from Langley.” Hey, is that Langley, Virginia? Like where the C.I.–oooooohhhh, I get it. Felix, about to be knocked out, recognizes Bond as the best player besides Le Chiffre and backs him.

Soon, Bond has half the money again. Le Chiffre can’t abide, so he has his girlfriend, who is all smiles now, drug Bond’s lemon-twisted drink. You can bet the next few minutes of Bond’s life go poorly. The spy stumbles through the casino, drinking a glass of salt water to puke the poison. He stumbles to his car. He removes the medical kit stored there by MI-6, with whom he communicates.

Earlier M had a chip injected into Bond, and that chip makes waves back in London, tracking his declining heart rate and the effects of the poison. Bond stabs his neck with a needle, possibly adrenaline, and attaches the miniature defibrillator paddles to his chest. He taps the red button to restart his life. Taps. Taps. Taps again. Oops, Bond didn’t connect a tiny cord, just like an overconfident man who knows how to assemble technology without reading the instructions. He faints.

Luckily Vesper pays attention and noticed Bond’s state as he left the table. She finds Bond and diagnoses the unplugged cord situation, plugs it, and restarts Bond’s heart. That’s a metaphor right there. Two hearts connecting in this moment. Bond asks if she’s OK and returns to the table. He sits across from Le Chiffre, who appears surprised to see him alive, and delivers a nice line he’s been cooking up. “That last hand,” Bond says, “nearly killed me.”

Bond and Vesper, who will save his life.

Let’s finish this damn poker game, eh folks? Four players remain: Bond, Le Chiffre, and two other guys who are bleeding chips. Let’s see the hand. The flop is ace, eight, six, the turn is a four, and the river another ace: four spades plus the ace of hearts. Everyone has checked so far, eager to see their decent hands turn into monsters.

The two random guys both go all in. Le Chiffre raises. Bond looks confused because he has a monster hand. Someone must be bluffing. Nevertheless he dumps all his chips in and looks at Le Chiffre like he can’t believe he just did that. Le Chiffre calls with his full house that we see before the other players do.

All the players show hands. The first guy has the nuts flush, though he didn’t know for sure until the ace of spades showed up. Not bad. The next guy has a full house, which he only hit on the river. That’s why those guy checked and then went all in. Awesome hands, but Le Chiffre has a better full house that he hit on the river. This is turning into the hand that people will discuss for generations.

Finally Bond shows his cards. He had the two spade connectors (5 & 7) necessary to make a straight flush, the best possible hand on the board. Now it’s Le Chiffre’s turn to sit and stew, because he’s out another $10 million and probably his life. Bond, as joylessly as he can, tips the dealer a half million or so.

There’s plenty of beat downs to go around in Casino Royale, but the best action was all in that poker game. Unbelievable? Sure. But they played for at least ten hours. Some big hands will fall in that span of time. And since when are you mad about Bond movies for not being believable?

Sidekicks (4/8)

We wait a full hour before Bond’s chief aid shows up on screen, but she hardly needs a minute to make a lasting memory. Onboard a train zipping through Montenegro, Vesper Lynd sits down opposite Bond and announces, with a smirk, “I’m the money.” Bond answers, with equal smirk, “Every penny of it.” I believe this was an attempt at a joke, nodding to characters of Bond’s past and future. I laughed with an eye roll.

Vesper and Bond engage in repartee for their entire time together. They diagnose each other’s personality traits. Vesper nails Bond’s orphan status and his Oxford training. Bond believes her insecurities are holding her back in Her Majesty’s Treasury. Vesper makes certain that Bond knows that if he loses the upcoming poker match, “our government will have directly financed terrorism.” She also mentions Bond’s “perfectly formed ass.”

Vesper Lynd smiles because she hasn’t spent much time with James Bond yet.

After trading these early flirty barbs, Bond declaims that Vesper is not his type. “Smart?” Vesper asks. “Single,” Bond says. Their batting dialogue keeps the other at bay, though their cover story has them as married. Bond and Vesper manipulate each other’s dress. “I sized you up the moment we met,” Vesper says after Bond finds a jacket tailored for him waiting for him.

After watching Bond kill two bad guys, Vesper loses some of her emotional armor. She feels “like there’s blood on my hands,” she says after Bond finds her soaking, fully clothed, in a cold shower. They connect in that moment, but not enough that she’ll stake Bond further after he loses everything to Le Chiffre in the poker game. Bond calls her a bloody idiot. Vesper knows Bond is all ego.

It’s easy to fall in love with someone who literally restarts your heart, and that’s what Bond does. He tells Vesper, after he’s won the poker game and survived Le Chiffre’s tortures, Vesper’s stripped all his armor away.

Watching Bond lose poker and directly finance terrorism.

That’s a true statement, because Vesper fools Bond. She asks him if everyone has a tell. They do, Bond says, except her. And he’s right, because it’s not until after she sells him out that he learns of her betrayal. She was blackmailed, of course, but that doesn’t stop Bond from calling her a bitch moments after watching the woman he loves die.

Few actors can ooze disdain and aloofness like Eva Green, and she displays both traits in spades. Vesper appears either mischievous or annoyed in most scenes, but its her horror watching Bond kill two goons that cements her as a great sidekick, one of the finest Bond Girls.

Henchmen (2/8)

Le Chiffre is really the henchman for Mr. White, the mysterious facilitator of terrorists worldwide, a man who guarantees nothing to his clients except a meeting, and will kill people who let him down. He’s the true king of the operation.

Mr. White appears in the beginning in Uganda to introduce Le Chiffre to those men who want to bank with him. He appears in the end in Venice with a briefcase full of Bond’s Casino Royale winnings, more than $120 million.

In between, he kills Le Chiffre as the latter interrogates Bond and nearly gets the password. Mr. White calls bullshit on that “nearly.” That’s all he does.

Stunts (6/6)

I’d hate to say that Daniel Craig’s best stretch of of a Bond movie is his first, but, wow, what an start.

Bond tracks a bomb maker to Madagascar, a scarred man watching a cobra fight. When Bond’s buffoonish partner gets made, the bomber runs off, through a village, and into a construction site. And not just run, but run, leap, flip, hop, kick, and fight. The French call it parkour. I call it awesome.

The bomb maker initially evades Bond, until Bond uses a pilfered bulldozer to crash through a construction shack. No building is too great or small for Bond not to wreck in pursuit of an informant.

The bomber runs away and onto the steel skeleton of a tower. He runs up the red I-beams, and mean he runs up a beam like he’s the god of flight or something, going straight up. Bond takes a more angular approach by huffing up a crane.

The workers on the site don’t enjoy this intrusion. One man swipes a blow torch at the assailant, until he’s kicked in the chest and falls too many stories onto the concrete floor. A metal tank of some gas falls beside him and explodes massively.

The bomb maker runs and hops up the tower and onto a pile of metal poles attached to a crane. Bond pursues. The bad guy literally free climbs a metal cable holding the box to the crane arm. Being able to do this at all is unbelievable. Bond steps onto the box and kicks away the poles from the device holding it, riding swiftly up to the enormous, towering crane arm that his quarry now runs through.

The employees at the site are aghast, as are we all. Terrific helicopter shots encircle the stunt actors as they walk around the crane. Suddenly the bad guy hops on top of the arm. He looks around for Bond and finds him behind. He points his gun and pulls the trigger, but it’s empty. Bond half shrugs. Some days are better than others, eh?

The bad guy throws the empty gun at Bond, who catches it and throws it back, knocking him over. These guys have done all this without trading a blow. Until now we have a very good fight scene. Are they about to fight hand-to-hand on the side or the crane arm, a hundred feet above concrete? They are.

The bad guy delivers a flying kick to Bond while holding the steel support. Bond and he trade punches. Bond lands two in the gut and kicks his opponent’s knee, but a reversed grapple sends Bond over the edge, clutching on for life. The bad guy runs away. And by run, I mean he leaps down 20 feet onto the side of another crane. I can’t fathom how he performed this stunt unless a huge air bag was ten stories below. Then the guy falls another 30 feet to roll safely onto a sandy roof atop the unfinished tower.

Is the pursuit over? Hell no. Bad guy slides and runs his way to an open staircase. Most folk take stairs two at a time when in a hurry; this guy takes two stairwells at a time, jumping over them. Bond isn’t afraid, but he’s less graceful in his dismount.

The bad guy runs through the building, still an active construction site, without goggles or a hard hat or anything. He could get hurt! He does his best gazelle impression over a table, drops down a level by bouncing off a wall, and swings through a hole in a wall seven feet off the ground. Bond, like a gorilla, bursts through that wall.

James smash!

Bad guy’s still going down, and faster. Bond, ever resourceful, finds a lift, takes a wrench from a bag on it, and breaks a pipe controlling the speed at which the lift rises and falls, sending the lift to the ground quickly.

Let’s take it to the streets, boys. The bad guy runs toward the Nambutu embassy, a really real country, for real. The bomb maker thinks he’ll be safe in the embassy from a rogue white dude. He don’t know James Friggin’ Bond.

Bond hops onto a van for a ride, climbs the roof, and leaps over the razor-wired fence into the embassy grounds. He struts into an office and kicks the bomb maker. Whoever the suit is that the bomb maker is speaking to, he draws a gun from his desk and has it promptly smashed into his face. Bond takes the gun and the bomb maker outside.

An alarm sounds and dozens of troops flood the facility. Bond shoots at two, not to kill but to wound, and disables them by hitting a steam pipe. The others, ground-level, spray machine gun bullets at Bond, but they hit their own men instead and also put a bullet in the bomb maker’s leg. Bond uses the bomb maker as ram to knock a soldier back, and he fights them off. The pair run around more until Bond throws him through a second-story window.

Grabbing the bomb maker again, Bond runs to a locked fence door. He’s out of space. The remaining troops rush in and–amazingly–don’t shoot. Here comes the suit who Bond gun-punched earlier. “Listen to me,” he begs. Bond, who hasn’t spoken a word since he took off after the bomb maker, drops the gun and shoves the bomb maker back. Then, like a striking cobra, he draws his gun from his waistband, shoots the bomb maker and a flammable tank (they’re everywhere, eh?) that explodes. Time to hit the road, jack. Bond needed the guy alive, but I guess he needed to escape the embassy more.

People wonder why the Bond franchise keeps going and going. Daniel Craig’s first big action sequence shows why–bomb-ass spectacle that shows what a man will do for his country.

Climax (4/6)

Everything wraps up in a neat little package. Vesper and James sail to Venice, Bond retires, they’re in love.

Until a little accountant from the Treasury shows up at M’s office and asks when Bond will deposit the winnings from Casino Royale. Turns out they are being withdrawn at the moment Bond realizes something’s amiss.

Vesper. Bond runs through Venice tracking the easily trackable Vesper in her red dress. Did she wear it for this reason? I suspect she did. Bond, who can easily detach his emotions, arms his pistol with a silencer and follows Vesper into a deserted square (try finding one of those in tourist-choked Venice).

Back alley in Venice.

Bond kills one goon with ease, but the others will prove tougher. Bond watches Vesper hand a briefcase to a skinny guy who hands it to another guy. The skinny guy, with one dark glasses lens and one clear, spots Bond and pulls a knife on Vesper, shouting, “I’ll kill her.” Bond says, “Allow me.”

Before he’s able to follow through on that threat, two guys from upper-level windows open up silenced machine gun blasts at Bond. Vesper and her captors escape. Bond does too, not hit by any of the countless rounds fired.

Bond follows the captors to a construction area. Instead of erecting a new building, as in Madagascar, the Italians are trying to keep old ones afloat. Bond peeks through a door to find dozens of airbags floating the building. He also spots a bad guy aiming at the door.

Bond shoots an airbag, it bursts, and the building starts rocking and flooding. Vesper is shoved in an elevator, one of those old school ones with the metal doors you slide shut. She’s scared.

Bond shoots but misses the two captors. He runs across an airbag like he’s playing Legends of the Hidden Temple and hides behind a wood column. The two machine gunners kick in the door and somehow know exactly where Bond hides. I say “somehow” because they don’t strike me as the types to peek through a door when bullets are flying.

Bond shoots another airbag to disorient the gunners and runs away. Good work by the set designers who covered the yellow airbags with dust and dirt. When Bond shoots one, all you see is brown dirt and dust scattering. The building is rocking outside and the tourists notice. When tourists notice anything, you know it’s a big deal. Wood floors are collapsing inside the building. Bond and the bad guys ascend the stairs to relatively safer heights. Vesper is still locked in the cage.

Bond spots a machine gunner’s reflection in a broken bottle. He clubs the guy with a board to his face, and the bad guy’s trigger finger is squeezed all the way. The other bad guy falls through the floor and shoots about all the rest of the airbags. The glasses guy loses the briefcase in the water, like an idiot.

Now the stakes are high, even if that ceiling is falling into the Adriatic. Bond fights the same guy and uses him as a human shield when glasses guy shoots at him. Vesper’s elevator shaft breaks from the wall, the metal tube falling onto a railing and crushing another bad guy.

Half the building is now underwater. Bond fights the remaining two bad guys. One slashes his chest, while glasses guy finds a nail gun and shoots his partner with it. Bond fends them off, using a wire to electrocute one while beating away glasses guy and shooting him in his dark lens with the nail gun, contemptuously. He pulls a nail from his back.

Bond tries to open the elevator door. Vesper turns the key on the inside. “I’m sorry, James,” she says. The car splashes and sinks. Bond dives in. He screams in the water as Vesper looks on with sadness. Bond watches her choke to death as he struggles with the door.

Hey Mom, my girlfriend’s dead.

Bond kicks the door open and brings Vesper to the surface. He does CPR atop the sunk building. He fails. She’s dead. Bond looks angry like a caged animal.

Back on his yacht, Bond calls M, the closest thing in his life to a mother. Vesper had a Algerian boyfriend kidnapped by Le Chiffre and used to blackmail her.

“You don’t trust anyone do you?” M asks. “No,” Bond says flatly. “Then you’ve learned your lesson,” she says.

Bond ends the movie at Mr. White’s house, courtesy of a phone number Vesper left him. Bond shoots Mr. White and sets up the next movie, Quantum of Solace.

Jokes (1/4)

Vesper tells Bond he’s got more man in his little finger than any other man she’s known. Bond quips, “That’s because you know what I can do with my little finger.”

M is so sassy

Good line. There are a few in Casino Royale, but they’re buried deep beneath the brooding nature of the protagonist and the physical brutality of its action sequences. No one is as cagey as Dench’s M, queen of MI-6, who calls ministers “prigs” and lambastes Bond at every turn, calling him a blunt instrument and threatening to have him killed if he ever broke into her house again.

Setting (4/4)

No franchise deals in the extravagant, exclusive, and exotic like the Bond franchise. Palm-lined Bahamian beaches and gilt Venitian hotels are on the docket.

Casino Royale in Montenegro is perhaps the world’s finest hotel and casino outside of Monaco. Bond and Vesper stay in a suite of rooms of unmatched opulence. Le Chiffre, staying in the same hotel of course, takes the Presidential Suite. Carpets everywhere. All the people have the contented smiles of the effortlessly rich.

Commentary (0/2)

The post-9/11 post-Iraq invasion Aughts were not times for unabashed nationalism. The world’s powers were morose, beaten, and nervous about the new world order. Terrorists could terrorize anywhere and bank anywhere, and some shady dudes were behind it all, with shadier dudes behind them.

Offensiveness (0/-2)

Folks, some bad people are out there, and they are good at poker.

For some reason Bond responds to Vesper’s betrayal by saying, “The bitch is dead.” That came from left field and felt far out of place.

Others

  • Very weird to hear a man like Mathis make a quip about Photoshop.
  • Plenty of Sony product placement.
  • (-1) Bond drives a Ford? Never.
  • (1) Bless you for having Chris Cornell, an ace singer, croon the opening song.
  • Bond emerging from the Caribbean is another of the film’s indelible images.

Summary (36/68): 53%

Daniel Craig rejuvenates the Bond franchise, taking it back to its roots, and throwing in a genuine love interest, a match for ego, in Eva Green. The big action set piece is a card game, and it’s a doozy. More money has not changed hands, I’d wager, in any other onscreen card game.