So, whilst this film is #366 on the top 1000 greatest films of all time, I'm watching and reviewing it for a different reason. I've never been too big into James Bond. They've never particularly interested me. I did try watching them all, but I got up to the Man with the Golden Gun and got bored, so I gave up. However, people keep badgering me to watch Spectre and as I haven't seen the other Daniel Craig films, I figured that I should start with Casino Royale.
How it all goes down: In Daniel Craig's first outing as James Bond, the film opens with a flashback of Bond obtaining his double 00 status through killing a corrupt MI6 chief. In the present day, the enigmatic Mr White introduces a Ugandan freedom fighter to the French Terrorist Le Chiffre, and the film's antagonist. (Mads Mikklesen) The Ugandan Warlord entrusts a large sum of money to Le Chiffre who uses the money to short sell stock in an aerospace company. However, when this plan goes awry, Le Chiffre organises a large-scale poker game in Casino Royale to pay back his employers. MI6 believing that they can use Le Chiffre to to aid the British government send Bond into the poker game to defeat Le Chiffre.
What worked: I really liked some of the stylistic elements of Casino Royale. I felt that some aspects were aesthetically pleasing. I thought the monochrome flashbacks looked impressive and they suited the nature of the flashbacks well. Some of the action sequences were enjoyable as well. The film's opening chase sequence was thrilling to watch and I enjoyed the free-running element of it.
What didn't work: As you probably can tell, I didn't enjoy this film all too much. It reminded me of why I went off James Bond in the first place. In too many places, it substituted any sense of narratives for explosions and excitement. Even though, I did like the opening sequence, I felt that it wasn't as nearly as tense or dramatic as it could have been, as my housemate Charlotte quite rightly pointed out, "the fight scenes are boring, as you know that James Bond will win them," although you could apply this argument to any film of this nature. Although, I do agree with Charlotte here. I felt that the chase and fight scene, whilst impressive, could have been condensed. Having said that, Martin Campbell also directed the Green Lantern, so I can understand why Casino Royale was boring in places.
I was also vastly disappointed by the inclusion of Mads Mikkelsen. Considering how brilliant he is as TV's Hannibal Lecter, I was expecting much from him in this film. This isn't the actor's fault though, but Martin Campbell's. Mads Mikkelsen was good when he actually appeared in the film, but he was shamefully underused. Other than the infamous torture scene and a little bit of sneering and glaring, here and there, he does very little. I was also disappointed in how he died, effectively like a chump. Bearing in mind, how he is the big bad antagonist of Casino Royale, film convention dictates that he should die after an epic fight scene with James Bond, not having such a mundane death as being shot in the head by the far less interesting Mr White.
One thing did confuse me in the film's opening chase scene. Whilst the bomb maker Mollaka uses parkour to skillfully run away, James Bond continually crashes into walls, bounces off ceilings, falls over and generally just makes a fool out of himself. This confused me, because as James Bond, I expected him to be suave, athletic and well not tripping over his shoelaces. I don't know whether this was intentional. Maybe it was to show how new he was to the field or maybe it was misdirection or just poor direction, but regardless Bond looked silly and it didn't give me a great impression of Daniel Craig.
Whilst James Bond is supposed to be more dramatic than realistic, I felt that at times it really pushes the suspension of disbelief a little far. Here, I must once again turn to my housemate Charlotte who pointed out a number of unrealistic incidents. Firstly, in the film's initial chase sequence, where Bond makes a fool of himself by falling off and over everything, he doesn't have a scratch. Secondly, after Bond chases after Le Chiffre who has captured Vesper and has left her tied up on the road, Bond swerves his car and flips it. The car then barrel-roles, but of course Bond is fine. However, Charlotte thought that the most unforgivable instant was when Vesper is trapped underwater and in Bond's attempts to rescue her, she drowns, but Bond doesn't. Even though, Bond was underwater for the same amount of time, he suffered no ill consequences.
What was ugly: No scene in this film was uglier than Le Chiffre torturing Bond.
So this film reminded me why I went off James Bond in the first place. Not a great start really! Oh well. Onwards and upwards to Quantum of Solace, although from what people have told me about that, I'm not sure that will spark an interest in James Bond either...