'Royale' fun

Nov. 22, 2006, midnight | By Pia Nargundkar | 13 years, 7 months ago

Latest James Bond flick does not disappoint

A blond Bond? Longtime fans of 007 were shocked with the choice of Daniel Craig to succeed the charming Pierce Brosnan in the long running James Bond movie series. Yet, Craig, with his piercing blue eyes, makes an outstanding, though colder, James Bond in the new "Casino Royale."

Originally created by writer Ian Fleming in 1952, James Bond is a top agent in the British Secret Service (MI6). A charismatic ladies' man as well, Bond, whose codename is 007, has saved the world (and gotten the girl) in 21 movies over 40 years. Craig is the sixth man to play the role.
"Casino Royale" takes a step back, adapting Fleming's first 007 novel to modern times.

Bond's first 007 mission has him playing in a high-stakes poker game with internationally-known professional gamblers. The organizer of the game is the main villain, Le Chiffre (whose name translates to "The Figure" in French), a banker for various terrorist organizations around the globe. Le Chiffre, having lost his clients' money, needs a way to gain it back fast before the clients find out and kill him. MI6 sends Bond, the Secret Service's best card player, to play in the game, knowing that if Le Chiffre loses, it will be the end of his organization. The game, played at Le Casino Royale in Montenegro, is the centerpiece of the film.

As usual, the movie is packed with action – without long scenes full of guns shooting, glass shattering and people dying, it just wouldn't be a Bond movie. And of course there are the cute scenes between 007 and the latest Bond girl, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). Lynd, an accountant for Her Majesty's Treasury, is assigned to make sure that Bond appropriately uses the funds provided by MI6 for the game. For a change, Bond's love interest is an intelligent, quick-witted woman and rather indifferent to his persisting charm.

The witty banter between Bond and Lynd provides breaks between the action, and is furthered by the convincing acting on part of Craig and Green. The Bond that Craig portrays is Bond in the beginning – before he gets his smooth, confident ways. Craig's Bond starts out overly cocky and cold-hearted but gradually begins to acquire the typical Bond characteristics. The only returning character is M (Judi Dench), Bond's boss at MI6. Dench delivers a fabulous performance, as always, perfectly portraying the stern yet caring head of the British Secret Service in her fifth Bond film.

The movie, filmed mostly in the Czech Republic, the Bahamas and Venice, was beautifully shot, with spectacular overhead views and intense action scenes. Additionally, unlike other recent Bond movies, "Royale" takes the 007 series back to what it centered on in the '60s – character and plot. While the last Bond movie, "Die Another Day" was criticized for its excessive use of high-tech gadgets, "Casino Royale" focuses on the shaping of the novice Bond and provides a satisfying story line.

The future of the 007 series looks bright as the new Bond proves his critics wrong with a solid, entertaining performance and wit as dry as his martini – shaken, not stirred.

"Casino Royale" is rated PG-13 for violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity. It is playing in area theaters.

Pia Nargundkar. Pia Nargundkar was Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2007-2008 school year. More »

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