In the evening, on November 3rd, Sony Pictures invited members of the world press to the Odeon Leicester Square in London for a preview screening of Casino Royale. Once we got past high security and were sat comfortably, we were in for a treat.
Throughout the entire film, it didn’t seem at all like Casino Royale was Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, and that is because he looks so confident in the role. The one-liners, Craig delivers perfectly—being on par with Sean Connery. Not like Moore’s eyebrow raising, or Brosnan’s later tongue-in-cheek deliveries, at which I sometimes cringe. The audience loved them all and burst into chuckles and laughter throughout—one constant of the original formula that remains in this new reboot.
And this was a much needed reboot. The invisible car in Die Another Day was the nail in the coffin. Having just gadgets and explosions was no longer good enough. There were too many other films copying and doing the same thing, making the latest Bond movie ‘just another action flick’ while the Jason Bourne series and others were surpassing with great storylines. I believe this is why the producers spent so long in a state of paralysis, as Pierce Brosnan described, deciding how they could move forward. And I’m so glad they did. It was worth the wait.
I was at first sceptical about Chris Cornell’s performance of the title song, ‘You Know My Name’. I felt the song was too heavy. However, seeing Daniel Kleinman’s titles with an orchestral version of the track, I now love it. It’s a true Bond ‘Title Song’. Around 95% of the titles are computer generated, with a casino and card theme, mixed in with shots of Craig and Eva Green. But it works so well. I’m really looking forward to seeing the film again on the 14th just to see the titles!
Mads Mikkelsen shines as Le Chiffre. A fine choice of actor. He has a cruel face and plays the part perfectly. In the game of poker, the stares he throws across the table at Bond are great–both men trying to read each other. And it is great to see his reaction when he sees Bond returning to the table unexpectedly at a point during the game. Mikkelsen really plays the part while trying to extract information from Bond. He looks desperate yet sadistic at the same time.
Eva Green is equally as good in her role as Vesper Lynd. When I first saw the trailers, I wasn’t convinced with the choice of her for the role–and I only judged it because that was the first glimpse of her we all saw. However, it’s not surprising, but in the film she is great. When Bond and Vesper first meet you can see chemistry between them, which lasts all the way to the end. That of course has a double meaning… but I’m not going to spoil anything too blatantly.
Despite the news that the torture scene has been cut to make it a 12A rating in the UK, it still had me cringing in my seat, along with every other chap around me. Everyone was squirming in horror at the unimaginable pain Bond was going through. Le Chiffre really does put a ton of power into his swings and gives Bond a good bollocking—literally. I’m so glad they kept this in the film. It’s just such a great, memorable scene. This is one point in the film where it really shows that Craig can act. His facial expressions are intense.
One of two concerns I have with the film is that there are quite a few action sequences all in the first part, prior to Bond being assigned to Casino Royale. They over-shadow slightly what is actually going on—where it is actually setting up the story about Le Chiffre. I’d already read the script so was aware of what was going on. But for others, if you weren’t paying attention too closely, you may have missed it and just thought it was an action sequence they’d dumped in the film for the sake of it. As another reviewer has said, you may be left wondering who Bond is chasing, and why. How does it fit into the rest of the story? Be sure to pay extra close attention and it is a great part of the film. Oh, and I’m not complaining at all about the action sequences. They are amazing and will become classics that fans will remember.
My other concern is that the average person expecting to see a Bond film with gadgets, Moneypenny and Q, will be disappointed for the simple fact that those things aren’t present. Those things are all key constants in the original Bond film formula, but as I said above, Casino Royale doesn’t use them at all. As a big Bond fan, I love it. I’ve read Casino Royale several times and I love the fact that the film follows the book respectfully. But hopefully the ‘average person’ will enjoy it as well and not just expect lots of explosions, gadgets and invisible cars (groan). If you want to see that, go and watch xXx or some other pile of tripe.
As for length of the film, it didn’t really feel as though it was too long or short. It was just right. There wasn’t any part that was being dragged out. Though I wish they’d have spent just a few more seconds focussing the camera on the card flops, turns and rivers so those poker players of us watching it could figure out what was going on before the showdown. It would have helped to interpret the players facial expressions in order to guess what hands they all possibly had, based on what was on the table.
A well spent 144 minutes and 007 seconds.
Critics around the globe are hailing this film as a success. Some of which were the ones who called Daniel Craig ‘James Bland’. As we at CBn originally said, how could they possibly judge Daniel Craig when they hadn’t even seen the film? Now that they have, they love it. They’re eating their own words and I love to see that. And that is such a great indication to the producers that they’re now doing the right thing.
Bravo! I can’t wait to see the film again and to see James Bond return for the next film!