Apr 24 2013

Review: Casino Royale

Welcome to my review of Casino Royale, the twenty-first part of my challenge to review all of the James Bond films. I’m watching each film in turn and trying to figure out which one is my favourite. For more information, see my introduction here. You can read my review of the previous film, Die Another Day, here. Spoilers follow.

Casino Royale
(dir. Martin Campbell, 2006)

Casino Royale trailerI didn’t realise this back when the film was first released in the cinema, but Martin Campbell directed Casino Royale. Campbell has—so far—only directed two Bond films. What is interesting is which two he has directed: Goldeneye and Casino Royal.

The Bond franchise has tried this tactic before. After the critical drubbing of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Guy Hamilton—director of Goldfinger—was brought in to revitalise the series with Diamonds Are Forever. Hamilton then went on to direct Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Goldeneye was very clearly created as a revitalisation of the Bond franchise, and it turned out to be a very successful one. It removed both the high camp of the Roger Moore films and the overwhelming seriousness of Timothy Dalton’s Bond, creating a film that—007 franchise aside—worked as a great action movie in its own right. Pierce Brosnan was a charming Bond with a temper that only erupted under the greatest of duress, and so he retained audiences who were previously divided about which types of Bond films they preferred. It was just a shame that the subsequent Brosnan films each took a further step down in quality before climaxing in the puddle of piss that was Die Another Day.

Casino Royale is another obvious revitalisation of the franchise; in fact, it takes one step further in that it’s a full-on continuity reboot (albeit with some confusingly familiar elements, such as Judi Dench reprising her role as M). Just as Moonraker took notes from Star Wars and Die Another Day from xXx, Casino Royale takes its inspiration from the excellent The Bourne Identity. Unlike those examples, Casino Royale turns out to be a brilliant film.

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