Casino Royale (2006)

2008 #72a
Martin Campbell | 139 mins | DVD | 12 / PG-13

Casino RoyaleI’ve seen Casino Royale four times in the two years since its release (twice on opening weekend, in fact), which is an unusually high number of viewings for me. Normally I’ll see a film once and, even if I really like it, might not bother again for years; even films I’d name among my most-favourites fall into this category.

The reason I share this upsettingly trivial bit of information about my film watching habits is because, after two years and four viewings, I don’t really have much to say about Casino Royale. It’s a damn fine Bond film, returning to Fleming and resetting the character without losing anything truly essential about the franchise. The action sequences are great because they’re not only exciting but also drive the plot forward and reveal character — when Bond runs through the wall at the building site is a prime example of this.

In Daniel Craig and Eva Green the franchise has probably the best two leads it’s ever had, in terms of acting ability, and they put it to good use. There are many more pitch-perfect things about this film — not least making a poker game engrossing — and, yes, a few flaws, though for me they’re so minor as to not matter; but I don’t feel the need to expound on them a great deal because the film really speaks for itself. And, looking at the UK box office and DVD/Blu-ray sales, I’m not sure there’s anyone who hasn’t seen it.

In summary, Casino Royale is possibly the best Bond film of all time — though when you have a series that has encompassed so many disparate styles (directly compare From Russia With Love to Moonraker and one might even struggle to believe they’re from the same series), it makes for an incredibly hard selection to pick a sole winner from. Still, this one’s up there with the very best, not just of Bond but of action-spy-thrillers in general.

Now, I just wonder what happened next…

5 out of 5

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