Monday Movie Review: Casino Royale

Casino Royale (2006) 10/10
James Bond (Daniel Craig), newly-promoted to 00 status, follows a trail of clues and bodies to LeChiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), banker to the world’s terrorists. LeChiffre has bungled his playing of the stock market with terrorist money, and now he needs to win big at a high stakes poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro. LeChiffre is known as a math genius and a brilliant gambler, so M (Judi Dench) sends in Bond—the best card player in the service. Accompanying Bond is treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), there to keep an eye on the money.


Casino Royale is a masterful movie. Not so much “Bond is back,” but a fantasy of Bond coming back that the movies have never truly fulfilled. Not since, oh, say, 1967 has there been so much power behind Bond’s punch.

It’s a dark movie, and will displease the fans pining for Roger Moore‘s return. There is exactly one classic Bond quip in the film, and Bond utters it at his own expense. There’s another moment which seemed to cry out for a death quip, and Bond is resolutely silent.

In many ways the movie is flawless. Any complaints I have are nit-picking. Yes, some plot points were confusing. Yes, the product placement was egregious; Bond wasn’t served by having Sony buy MGM, and apparently the right to have every MGM character use lots and lots of Sony cell phones and laptops. Lots. And lots. And yes, the change to the gunbarrel is imperfect. But these are tiny, tiny flaws.

This is truly James Bond as fans want him, as Fleming saw him; blunt, hard, yet vulnerable. Capable of love, capable of killing, and feeling the effects of both. That director Martin Campbell and the producers have managed to package that Bond in a way that the general movie-going public will love is sheer genius.

Craig has an un-lovely face that manages to be appealing, and a naked body that will make women in the audience forget his face. This is a very sexy movie, although a monogamous one. Interesting, isn’t it? Because the last time we saw a hard, edgy Bond was Dalton, and fans complained about his monogamy.* I don’t think fans will complain this time.

The movement and scenery is fantastic. My Bahamas trip really paid off; we spent a lot of time at the Ocean Club, as well as at the Bahamanian Defense (Bureau? Ministry? Thingy) where the running stunt stuff was filmed. The Bahamas are suffused in sunlight, Venice is run-down and interesting rather than touristy lovely, and Montenegro is gorgeous. We also visit Prague, Miami, and I forget where the running sequence is supposedly taking place…it was filmed in the Bahamas.

I have to see it again and take notes, dammit.

Speaking of running, I’ve never seen a “special running stunts” film credit before, but boy did Sebastien Foucan prove his worth. The chase sequence that opens the post-credits film is fantastic.

So, what’s in this movie? Real espionage, like fans have been begging for. Bond follows one clue to the next and learns from spying, rather than having the villain just give it away. A team behind him; MI6 pulls through for Bond when he needs it, so we don’t see him as a superman. Beautiful women. Caterina Murino makes her brief appearance as Solange worth the price of admission, and Eva Green is a fascinating Vesper. She is snooty and aloof, yet fearful and sweet. She is Fleming’s “bird with a wing down” and we know that Bond will fall for her. There’s a scene in the shower as emotional and touching as anything that has ever been in a Bond film, and it’s that scene, I think, that really sold me that Craig could do it all. Up until then we’d seen the brains, the brutal action, the arrogance, but his own feelings showed here and it was beautiful.

The action is unbelievable. Killer “running stunts.” An amazing chase at an airport. Brutal fights in Prague and in Montenegro. Torture. A building collapse. I mean, you can’t imagine that this is a scaled-down film from that description, but these huge sequences are immediate and real.

And as the credits rolled, the audience burst into applause. The whole sold-out house.

*Trivia time: Dalton’s Bond actually slept with two women in each of his two movies. The only monogamous Bond movie prior to Casino Royale was Diamonds Are Forever. Yes, Connery was the monogamous one!


  1. Ken says:

    I loved it. Loved it. It was everything I was hoping for…. and more. Daniel Craig still looks like a British wharf rat, but as long as they keep making movies like this one I’ll roll with him…..

  2. taijiya says:

    Excellent. I was hoping you’d have a review up this morning. 🙂

  3. deblipp says:

    How could I not, taijiya?

  4. taijiya says:

    Heh. That’s why I came here first. 😀

  5. JackGoff says:

    Ha! I just totally negotiated a viewing of CR tomorrow on the basis of your review. I’ve been wanting to see it, but not alone. Thanks, Deb!

  6. deblipp says:

    Wow, Jack, that’s great. I hope you both love it.

  7. kate.d. says:

    i saw this over t-day weekend, and kept meaning to come by here and read your review! i am far from a bond expert, but i have to say that i *loved* it too. rarely do i see a movie that i still find myself thinking about almost a week later!

  8. deblipp says:

    kate, thanks for dropping in. It’s a thoughtful movie, isn’t it? And Vesper is a haunting character.

  9. Ruthann says:

    We saw it this weekend and it blew me away! Even my jaded “I can see the plots coming a mile away” husband was totally enthralled–I do want to see it again, but I doubt I’ll take notes, Deb. . . I think I’ll just sit there and DROOL. . . .

  10. Roberta says:

    I have finally seen my first Bond film. Joe and I loved it.
    Torture. Ow-y.

  11. deblipp says:


  12. […] Arthur and I saw Casino Royale again last night. Damn, what a great movie. Still, I may have to downgrade it from a 10/10 to a 9/10. How perfect can a movie be if it takes two viewings to understand it? […]

  13. James says:


    The Brits (and probably many more) were completely against this film with Daniel Craig as Bond. The fact is, Danny Boy pulled the role off and then some. To hell with the critics. THEY WERE ALL WRONG. As if that is a surprise.

    I love your blog post, hon. May the public always be the world’s voice. To hell with the so-called experts.

    Danny Craig IS the NEW BOND! And HE deserves it!

    Keep up the GREAT work, Danny.

  14. deblipp says:

    Thanks, James. I was totallly against Craig at first, but I am very happy to be proven wrong.

    Watch this space for announcements about a James Bond Blog!

  15. Indy42 says:

    Great film. What did you think of the song, You Know My Name, and of the changed gunbarrell sequence?

  16. deblipp says:

    You Know My Name is a mediocre song that is getting a lot of attention because the movie’s a hit. The gunbarrel sequence is imperfect.

  17. Rosie Powell says:

    Since I have seen CASINO ROYALE when it first reached the theaters, four times, and rushed to buy the DVD, I’m sure you can easily surmise how I feel about the movie. It’s not perfect. But I have yet to encounter a Bond movie that was perfect. For me, this is the best Bond movie since THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.

  18. Brent Case says:

    Hi Deborah! I really enjoyed your review on Casino Royale, and I’ve also really enjoyed your James Bond Fan Book. I was initially outraged that Pierce wasn’t going to be in the next Bond movie, but I must say that I was very impressed with Craig’s performance. That foot chase scene awesome, and has become one of my all time favorite action sequences in ANY action movie.

    Regarding the gunbarrel sequence, I think the reason they tried a different approach was that they didn’t want to show it until Bond earned his double-O status with the required two kills. It’s after we see these two kills that the gunbarrel appears. Personally, I like the way they did the gunbarrel sequence. I’m guessing that now that he’s earned his double-O status, the gunbarrel sequence will return to normal in the next film.

    I also thought the title sequence during the song “You Know My Name” was pretty cool. It was very different in that it didn’t show a lot of sexy female silhouettes dancing around, but instead showed Craig’s Bond kicking a lot of guys’ asses–showing off his physical strength and fighting prowess. I think the song “You Know My Name” played to that, too. Very masculine-sounding for the way Craig portrayed Bond.

  19. rémi says:

    hello Deborah!
    I’m a french James Bond fan and I bought your book I found really very interesting and thorough!! Number of death/explosions.. what a great idea!! And I am particularly interested by the fans ranking because of course I did mine with different criterion as girls, villains, locations, music…
    my own top five: 1- Goldfinger
    2- Goldeneye
    3- The Spy Who Loved Me
    4- From Russia With Love
    5- Casino Royale
    In which rank do you put Casino Royale ?
    Thank you for all. I’m impatient to watch Quantum Of Solace and to see your commentars about it!

  20. Rake girl says:

    ehmm i didn’t like that movie.. i think is a lil bit commercial… 🙁


  21. […] to list them as favorites; they’ve moved to my permanent favorites list (long though it is): Casino Royale—a phenomenal “reboot” that surprised everyone. Especially me. Do we even *remember* […]