Casino Royale (2006) - The Heartbreaking Bond

Casino Royale is not just a great Bond movie but a great movie overall and historic one at that, as it rebooted the series. Bond started afresh with no relation to the continuity of the timeline of the series that had been running since 1962. Daniel Craig became the sixth actor to portray James Bond, and this Bond was more like one of us and less secret agent, which had by now become somewhat of a cliché. As this part of making Bond more realistic, gone were the cars, gadgets, Q, Moneypenny and the pretenses. But Bond was still as sharp, dryly witty and cheeky as ever, dressed to kill. The movie went back to the beginning, starting with how James Bond became 007.

JAMES BOND - DANIEL CRAIG (First Appearance)

Directed ByMartin Campbell Produced byMichael G. WilsonBarbara Broccoli
Screenplay byNeal PurvisRobert WadePaul Haggis Based On: Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Theme Song performed byChris Cornell
Release date: 14 November 2006 Running Time: 2 hours 24 minutes
Bond Series: 21/23 Distributed byMGMColumbia Pictures
Budget: $150 million Gross Revenue: $594.7 million
Preceded by: Die Another Day (2002) Succeeded by: Quantum of Solace (2008)

BOND GIRLS

EVA GREEN as VESPER LYNDThe legendary Vesper. She is the banker assigned by MI6 to keep an eye on James Bond as well as supply him with money for Le Chiffre's Poker game. She is very defensive and is put off by Bond in the beginning itself as he shows his ego and arrogance, something very unsusal of Bond's women. Bond uses her as a showpiece during the Poker game but she refuses to give anymore financial assistance to him after he squanders his first play. But Bond ends up falling in love with her, though she betrays him and sacrifices herself in the end.

CATERINA MURINO as SOLANGE - Alex Dimitrios' beautiful wife, who is disillusioned with him and his criminal ways. She easily falls for Bond, and she reveals all of Dimitrios' plans to him. Le Chiffre has her killed for this.

MI6 and OTHER ALLIES

JUDI DENCH as M - M is the center point of Casino Royale. She promotes Bond to double-O, then admonishes him for breaking international diplomatic laws by shooting a terrorist inside an embassy. She hates his arrogance, his ego and his recklessness, but admits that Bond is the best they have. She tries to be gentle with him after Vesper's death, in what can be said almost a maternal kind of way, and she forgives everything he does, including him breaking into her house and finding her real name.

JEFFREY WRIGHT as FELIX LEITER - Bond's longstanding friend in the CIA. He provides the money for Bond to buy back into the game, provided MI6 hands over Le Chiffre to them.

GIANCARLO GIANNINI as RENE MATHIS - Bond's and Vesper's local contact in Montenegro, who helps them set up camp. Le Chiffre later reveals that he is his friend too, making him a double agent. Bond later has him arrested.

Bond, Solange and Vesper

THE ANTAGONISTS AND THEIR ANTAGONISM

VILLAIN - LE CHIFFRE (Mads Mikkelsen) is known as the "International Banker to the world's terrorist organisations". He invests money of terrorists and returns decent profits for them. A mathematical genius, he has great ability in winning games based on chance, probability and permutations, which makes him ideal for stock market games. His contact in the movie is Mr.White, who introduces him to Steven Obanno, the Ugandan terrorist. But he hadn't counted on Bond who destroys both his plans and makes him lose all his money. Mr.White kills him while he was torturing Bond for information, saying money is not as important as knowing whom to trust. He has a damaged eye, which causes him to bleed blood and gives him a cruel look, which he is.

VILLAIN - MR.WHITE is a mysterious figure working for an equally mysterious terrorist organization. He brokers the deal between Obanno and Le Chiffre and closely follows the latter since it will be his trust that will be betrayed if Le Chiffre fails. He does, and Mr.White kills him. He then "recruits" Vesper Lynd to help him get Bond's winning money by blackmailing her using her Algerian boyfriend whom his organization had captured. Bond holds him responsible for Vesper's death and tracks him down, capturing him.

VILLAIN HENCHMEN 

  • Simon Abkarian as Alex Dimitrios - Le Chiffre's associate who provides Mollaka with instructions
  • Sebastien Foucan as Mollaka - Bomb Maker whom Bond chases at the start of the movie
  • Claudio Santamaria as Carlos - Assigned to blow up the Skyfleet aircraft at Miami
  • Isaach de Bankole as Steven Obanno - Commander of the Lord's Resistance Army, Ugandan terrorist
  • Ivana Milicevic as Valenka - Le Chiffre's girlfriend who poisons Bond's drink.

VILLAIN SCHEME - Le Chiffre invests the money of Ugandan Terrorists in stocks of an aircraft manufacturer Skyfleet. He then plans to short the stock and make a tidy profit aided by his own sabotage scheme which is to bomb the company's new prototype airliner, thereby bankrupting the company which will cause its stock prices to plummet. When this plan is foiled and he suffers heavy losses, Le Chiffre sets up a high-stakes Texas Hold 'em Poker tournament at Montenegro for 10 players with entry fee of $10 million and $5 million buy back to recover his losses and keep him safe from his creditors. Mr.White wants his goodwill with his organization and clients to be safeguarded, so he covers Le Chiffre's every move.


 

CARS - Aston Martin DBS V12, Aston Martin DB5 (Bond Cars), Ford Mondeo, Range Rover Sport (Bond), Jaguar XJ8 (Le Chiffre, Mr.White)

GADGETS - Automatic External Defrillibrator with satellite data uplink to MI6 HQ, Sony Ericsson K800i, GPS microchip implant.

LOCATIONS - Prague Czech Republic, Madagascar, Nassau (Bahamas), Miami USA, Montenegro, Venice Italy, Lake Como Italy.


007 CASINO ROYALE MOVIE STATISTICS

"Bond, James Bond" -1, Vodka Martinis - 4, Direct Kills - 11, Romps - 2, Chases - 3, Fights - 5, Captured - 1, Tight Spot Escapes - 1

VERY PUNNY, MR. BOND (James Bond Quotes from Casino Royale)

James Bond: Sorry. I'll shoot the camera first next time.

Vesper Lynd: It doesn't bother you? Killing all those people?
James Bond: Well I wouldn't be very good at my job if it did.

James Bond: I've got a little itch, down there. Would you mind?
James Bond: Now the whole world's gonna know that you died scratching my balls!

James Bond: Why is it that people who can't take advice always insist on giving it?

Vesper Lynd: I'm the money.
James Bond: Every penny of it.

Vesper Lynd: Am I going to have a problem with you, Mr. Bond?
James Bond: No, don't worry, you're not my type.
Vesper Lynd: Smart?
James Bond: Single.

James Bond: I'm sorry I'm not sorry.

Vesper Lynd: I can't resist waking you. Every time I do you look at me as if you hadn't seen me in years. Makes me feel reborn.
James Bond: If you had just been born wouldn't you be naked?

James Bond: I think I'll call it a Vesper.
Vesper Lynd: Because of the bitter aftertaste?
James Bond: No, because once you've tasted it, that's all you want to drink.

James Bond: The job's done and the bitch is dead.

Vesper Lynd: If the only thing left of you was your smile and your little finger, you'd still be more of a man than anyone I've ever known.
James Bond: That's because you know what I can do with my little finger...

James Bond: I'm sorry. That last hand... nearly killed me.

James Bond: [after Bond has just lost his 10 million in the game, to the bartender] Vodka-Martini.
Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
James Bond: Do I look like I give a damn?

Carter: Looks like our man, burn scars on his face.
James Bond: Hmm. I wonder if bomb-makers are insured for things like that.

Doctor #1: Stay calm and don't interrupt. Because you'll be dead within two minutes unless you do exactly what I tell you.
James Bond: I'm all ears.

Vesper Lynd: I'm afraid I'm a complicated woman.
James Bond: That is something to be afraid of.

James Bond: Mr. White? We need to talk.
Mr. White: Who is this?
James Bond: The name's Bond. James Bond.

STORYLINE (Caution, Spoilers!)

James Bond earns his 00 status after killing a rogue MI6 station chief and his associate. Elsewhere, Le Chiffre meets with Ugandan terrorists and agrees to invest their money, a deal brokered by a mysterious Mr.White. On a mission in Madagascar, Bond Parkour-chases down a terrorist called Mollaka and kills him, blowing up half an embassy in the process and traces a call Mollaka received before he died to Alex Dimitrios, a known associate of Le Chiffre. Bond arrives in Nassau to confront Dimitrios, defeats him in Poker and wins his Aston Martin DB5, seduces and sleeps with his wife Solange and as per her information, follows Dimitrios to Miami. In Miami, Bond kills Dimitrios and follows another another associate of his, Carlos. Then, acting on information from M that Carlos might try to blow up a prototype Skyfleet airliner, Bond chases Carlos down the runways of Miami Airport and prevents him from doing so and killing him in the process, thereby thwarting Le Chiffre's plans of shorting Skyfleet stock and increasing the net worth of his Ugandian clients. Meanwhile in Nassau, Solange is killed by Le Chiffre for revealing his plans to Bond.

To recover his losses from the airliner fiasco and to save his life, Le Chiffre sets up a high-stakes Poker game at Casino Royale in Montengero. M, despite being furious with him, asks Bond to participate and defeat him, which would mean Le Chiffre would lose everything and turn to the British govt for protection from his creditors. On his way Bond meets Vesper Lynd, assigned as his financier by the British government, who coldly rejects Bond. During the game, Bond loses the first round and all his money and Lynd refuses to finance him any further. The next day, helped by Felix Leiter, Bond buys back into the game and starts winning, and after escaping an assassination attempt by Le Chiffre with the help of MI6, Lynd and his Aston Martin, defeats him with a perfect Straight Flush hand to win the round. Furious, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper and uses her as bait to capture Bond and tortures him, revealing that his local contact Mathis is a double agent. Le Chiffre is then killed by Mr.White for breach of trust. Bond after recovering asks Vesper to transfer the winning money to MI6 and has Rene Mathis arrested. He then professes his love for Vesper and resigns from MI6 service. Later in Venice, Bond find that the money was never transferred to MI6 and while investigating this finds Vesper handing over the money to Mr.White's henchmen. After a gunfight through a sinking building, Bond kills the henchmen but loses the money and Vesper, who locks herself in a sinking elevator and dies, sacrificing herself. Mr.White walks away with the money.

Later, M tells Bond that Vesper had a French-Algerian boyfriend who was being held captive by Mr.White's organization to blackmail her into helping them, which she agreed to, provided he and Bond were not harmed. Bond goes through Vesper's phone and finds White's number. He finds him, shoots him in the leg and stands towering above him, introducing himself as "Bond, James Bond."

CASINO ROYALE TRIVIA

  • Daniel Craig's First appearance as James Bond, the sixth actor to play Bond
  • First time in 27 years since Moonraker an Ian Fleming novel was adapted on-screen
  • First Bond movie not to feature Moneypenny or to open with the Gunbarrel Sequence
  • First Bond movie to feature a major black-and-white sequence
  • First Bond movie since Dr.No not to feature naked women silhouettes in the title sequence
  • Vesper Lynd's official job designation: International Liaison Officer for the Financial Action Task Force of Her Majesty's Treasury
  • Daniel Craig is the first actor to play James Bond who wasn't born yet when the series started; and the first actor to play Bond when he was under 40 since George Lazenby.
  • Pierce Brosnan was interested in returning as Bond but was considered to be too old at 53.
  • Apparently Hrithik Roshan was considered at one point for the role of Bond and Aishwarya Rai for Vesper.
  • First ever movie where the Bond Girl is not with Bond at the end of the movie
  • First ever movie where the main Bond-villain is killed before the end of the film and is not killed by Bond, the Bond Girl or Bond ally, or them having anything to do with his death.
  • Third consecutive movie where a Bond girl deceives Bond and third consecutive movie in which Bond is tortured.

CASINO ROYALE SHAKEN AND STIRRED (Review)

Casino Royale was one of the most criticized movies before it even had come out, mainly for the reboot and for Daniel Craig's casting as James Bond. But once it was released, even the hardest critics grudgingly agreed that this one was one of the greatest Bond movies ever. Being a series reboot, Casino Royale started the Bond timeline afresh, and he movie very appropriately begins showing how James Bond became 007. The pre-title sequence itself solidly established Craig as James Bond. The film told a dry, down-to-earth story without fancy gadgets and cars with unbelievable modifications. In fact, no one actually missed these supposedly mandatory Bond addons. The chase and action scenes are exquisite, and the characters seem human, vulnerable and believable. The reboot took the franchise a long way and the makers of this movie had a free hand and less baggage carried over from the 20 previous films. However, the elaborate settings and highly luxurious surroundings with all the gilt-edged "ties only" demeanor, which identify the waters Bond swims in, continues into the series and is upped by a quotient.

Casino Royale Poker Game

What blows one away is Casino Royale's pace and presentation. Until then, Bond movies were "soft", they always played hard on their themes but were also full of wit, smiles, silly gags and laughs. James Bond was a larger-than-life ubermensch to whom laws of lesser men did not apply. Earlier movies never ventured into the realm of James Bond's emotional battles (with the notable exception of His Majesty's Secret service). Until then, Bond movies repetitively remained faithful to the standard Bond-movie formula. Casino Royale is brutal. It strings you taut as a Cello string and leaves you breathless. It holds back nothing, shows us how and what the mind and lives of people inhabiting that world really is, including a complete with a palette of raw abrasive emotions of the man James Bond is, a far cry from say, Roger Moore's Bond, when it was all fun and games.

As a Bond film, the main differentiating factor of this movie was its break from the Bond Movie formula: Pre-Title - M's Briefing - Q's Workshop - Travel - Meeting Villain - Investigation - Chase/Fight - Sex - Repeat - Climax - Kills Villain - Sex. Also, the typically "Bondian" villains who make skewered plans of World domination from their humongous lairs with armies of henchmen at their disposal had also run their time and also went extinct. Today's villains play in the background and do not want to attract no attention to themselves. Casino Royale plays to today's themes of terrorism, of money laundering and financial fraud and of undermining of nations in a simple plot, rather than the usual ultracomplicated Bond story lines of megalomaniac world domination. The movie does not play the iconic Bond theme till the very end, to show Bond's immaturity at first and his true arrival as James Bond, 007 at the final scene. Overall, The movie has a kind of raw earthly abrasive feeling to it, the kind of feeling you get when you fall and scrape your knee in the sand...

BOND, JAMES BOND! (Iconic scenes that Defined the new Bond)

  • The Pre-title sequence where Bond kills the rogue station chief to earn his Double-O
  • Craig emerging from the sea in his, ahem, full trunks (A dedication to the first Bond movie, Dr.No, Sean Connery and Ursula Andress)
  • The Conversation between Bond and Lynd on the train, revealing Bond's conceitedness and Lynd's coldness.
  • Where he Bond asks the bartender if he looked like he gave damn if his Martini was shaken or stirred
  • Bond being tortured by Le Chiffre ("Now the whole world's gonna know that you died scratching my balls!")
  • Bond, James Bond. (The end where he shoots Mr.White)

LEGACY OF CASINO ROYALE AND THE NEW BOND

Pierce Brosnan was pushing 50 at the end of Die Another Day and it was widely agreed that he was too old. The franchise which was rescued by Brosnan with GoldenEye had maxed out again with the Bond-series hitting a creative ceiling with no further scope of expansion. There was a howl of backlash against Die Another Day with everyone calling it "painfully stupid" and probably the worst Bond film ever with its silly, cartoonish action sequences, over-the-top explosions and painfully loud shoot-a-thons, and had most critics write obituaries for James Bond, who was (and rightly) outdated in his present form in today's universe, in the continuity of the Bond movies that had been running since 1962. James Bond's time was up and done, he was as relevant in the world of mobile internet, GPS and Twitter as a broadsword was in 2004. A drastic overhaul was needed to keep the series alive, a fresh start with a total series reboot and a new Bond. When Daniel Craig was announced to be the new Bond, there was a renewed howl of outrage as purist Bond fans and others took to the streets Internet denouncing the choice with campaigns like danielcraigisnotbond.com (They are still pissed off at him) as they thought Craig did not fit the picture of the "traditional" charming, charismatic, tall, dark and handsome (and dark-haired) profile of James Bond. The controversy reached a crescendo by the time filming started with fans demanding Brosnan be brought back. But all that was laid to rest once the film was released. Casino Royale proved to be a two-hour wet dream for Bond fans and one of the greatest Bond movies ever produced which also saved the franchise.

Bond movies like all films must evolve according to the times. Casino Royale was released in an era when movies show human stories as they are: gritty, real-life-like, down to earth and devoid of fantasies, reflected by the times of Christopher Nolan, Tarantino and the Scott Brothers, where the old Bond simply didn't have any relevance or existence. Bond had adapted once to newer times with GoldenEye, but this time a whole new break-of the-mold was in order to make Bond adapt to the post 9/11 World. Puritanism or not, there is a limit to which you can stretch tradition. Thus was born the new Bond, who though bloated, conceited and egoistic, is deep inside a human being who pines to be loved, holds on kindly to his assistant terrified of all the violence, professes his love to her and then is bitterly hurt inside when she betrays him and later dies.

Casino Royale redefined James Bond forever. Daniel Craig made Bond look cool though it meant breaking away from the "traditional" Bond who mostly played by the rules. He was no longer the larger-than-life character but more human and "real", than plastic and fictional, who is dark, abrasive, rough-edged, violent, scared and hurts as any other than smooth and suave, more "I don't give a damn" and less careful introspection and charms and style and consciousness of himself and his surroundings, his wit as dry as his Martinis and less brouhaha. Craig's Bond took the mild insubordination that Brosnan's Bond started to another level, Connery or Moore wouldn't have dared to cross M. He still jumps under the sheets with the women he wants to, wins quite easily at Poker games, does not allow anyone to dent his ego or denounce what he has done, be it his boss M or the gorgeous Vesper Lynd. The movie brings Bond down to Earth as a raw, vulnerable human who falls in love and is broken by her betrayal and death, a scarred individual who is cursed to carry around bitterness of an entire lifetime within him - his sarcasm and his "use-and-throw" of his women all must be manifestations of this. That single scene alone where he sits by her lifeless body paints a Bond never seen before. Maybe His Majesty's Secret Service was just ahead of its time.

VERDICT

THE GOOD: Daniel Craig, the fresh treatment of James Bond, Action Sequences, Screenplay.

THE BAD: A breakaway from the "traditional" Bond (though for the good), No screentime for the Aston Martin.

BONDSCALE: 3rd Best out of 22 Movies, 8 and a half Stars out of 10

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