Gambling with Ellipsis

Casino Royale

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Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelson, Judi Dench, Jesper Christensen, Jeffrey Wright

After a four year hiatus with the Lee Tamahori directed Die Another Day, (2002) the hugely successful Bond franchise returns with a glossy and brilliant cinematic adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale originally published in 1953.

Director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) updates Fleming’s novel to the 21st century and the Bond franchise controversially introduces the new blond Bond, a blue eyed hunk named Daniel Craig whose film credits include Love is the Devil and Sylvia.

Judi Dench reprises her role as M while Jeffrey Wright takes on the role of Felix Leiter. Bond girl and femme fatale, Vesper Lynd is coolly played by the French actress Eva Green (The Dreamers) and the villain, a swindler, money launderer and compulsive gambler the infamous Le Chiffre is wonderfully played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.

With a gritty opening sequence in Prague followed by a spectacular stunt and action sequence in Madagascar, viewers are reintroduced to Bond as a tough, rebellious British secret agent who is after the elusive source of Ellipsis, codename for an international terrorist money laundering ring with ties to Le Chiffre and his overseer the mysterious Mr White played by Jesper Christiansen, first seen in the Ugandan jungle.

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As the action moves swiftly around the world from The Bahamas to Montenegro to Venice, Casino Royale is a superb and ambitious adaptation of the 007 novel, as all the central characters gamble with each other’s lives and motives, with Bond even getting caught in a horrendous torture sequence nearly breaks his British patriotism as well as his manhood. Bond’s love for Vesper Lynd is consecrated in a Hotel room in Montenegro while he is in between playing in an international high stakes poker, superbly teased out and the onscreen chemistry between Craig and Mikkelsen as Bond and Villain is palpable and nefarious.

Complimenting this classic hero/villain tension is the intense partnering of Bond and Lynd, with a matching chemistry between Green and Craig, showing that both actors are consummate performers and expertly cast together.

Besides the awesome stunts, the superb action and the intense gambling, Casino Royale belongs to Daniel Craig who makes the role of Bond his own and really proves his weight as the new Bond for the 21st century, as demonstrated recently with two more Bond films Quantum of Solace (2008) and the hugely popular Skyfall (2012).

Retrospectively Casino Royale pays homage to all the elegant Bond films of the 1960s especially Dr No and Goldfinger as well as the Pierce Brosnan films of the late 1990s such as Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Gone are the spectacular sets and outlandish plots of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker which characterised the Bond films of the 1970’s, even though those films were the most popular of the Roger Moore series.

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Casino Royale is glossy film noir with a great supporting cast, exotic locations and some jaw dropping sequences including the iconic shot of Daniel Craig emerging out of the Caribbean surf in nothing but swimming trunks, oddly enough paying homage to Dr No and Die Another Day.

Casino Royale is 142 minutes long and by far one of the best Bond films made in the expanding 007 filmography, memorable, thrilling and unsuspectingly heart wrenching. This is definitely a vintage Bond film and one to keep for all the ardent franchise collectors. Absolutely Brilliant.

Ideally Casino Royale should be watched before Quantum of Solace as the two films complement each other stylistically and the plot follows on chronologically.

 

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