2006. A huge fuss was being made by fans and the media, prior to Casino Royale’s release. One of the most famous film characters in the world was going to be played by……a blonde actor. Yes, really. The fuss over hair colour.
Daniel Craig, a perfectly respectable actor, who had shown his fine acting ability in Our Friends in the North, Layer Cake and Enduring Love, would usher in a new era for James Bond in the new post-Jason Bourne world.
My thoughts were only to feel sorry for Pierce Brosnan who had breathed new life into the Bond franchise in 1995 with Goldeneye. To many, it certainly appeared that he had been unceremoniously dropped, although to be fair, Die Another Day was pretty dire. This should not have been on Brosnan’s shoulders though.
James Bond has always adapted to suit the time the films are made in. Sean Connery with his 60’s, misogynistic James Bond. George Lazenby with his underrated Bond, Roger Moore with his 80’s tongue-(firmly)-in-cheek Bond, Timothy Dalton with probably the closest Bond to the novels until Craig and Pierce with his twinkly-eyed, charming Bond.
Having two brothers, I grew up watching Bond films, but for me, Casino Royale is by far the best Bond of the lot. Probably followed by Skyfall, The Living Daylights and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Casino Royale is more in the same vein as On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In fact, to read the plot, before viewing the film, it does not sound particularly exciting, but this could not be more wrong.
So many women are now watching Bond films because of Casino Royale.
The opening sequence, shot in the shadows, followed by the fantastic retro credits to the brilliant track by Chris Cornell (You Know my Name) made such a welcome change to the previously cheesy naked swaying women of the old films.
The film’s pace is just right. Exciting and fast where it needs to be and tender and emotive in other moments.
Eva Green, as Vesper Lynd, is a brilliant foil to Craig’s Bond. In my opinion, sharp as a tack, she is the most beautiful and stylish Bond girl of them all. Less is more.
Vesper, to Bond: “…by the cut of your suit, you went to Oxford, or wherever. Naturally you think human beings dress like that, but you wear it with such disdain, my guess is you didn’t come from money, and your school friends never let you forget it, which means that you were at that school by the grace of someone else’s charity: hence that chip on your shoulder…”
As Casino Royale wipes the Bond slate clean, this is Bond’s first ’00’ mission. Bond has to take part in a high stakes poker game in Montenegro whilst investigating one of the players, Le Chiffre, who is part of a shadowy investigation, Quantum.
The locations do not disappoint with an exciting chase in Madagascar, a dalliance in the Bahamas, gambling in Montenegro, a flirtation with Venice and, my favourite, Lake Como.
Daniel Craig has given us a Bond for our time. Tough and cold when the job calls for it, but not infallible, or immune to emotion. Quantum of Solace was a disappointment after Casino Royale, but you can forgive the team behind the Bond films because they then gave us the amazing Skyfall. More on that another time.
Quentin Tarantino wanted to make Casino Royale with Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman as Vesper Lynd
Three Aston Martin DBS cars were destroyed in the scene where the car rolls
The “Vesper” drink consists of three parts gin (Gordon’s), one part vodka and half part of Kina Lillet (not available – nowadays the substitute is Lillet Blanc). These are shaken over ice, until cold and served in a cocktail glass with a lemon peel garnish.
The Madagascar parkour chase took six weeks to film
Images: http://www.jamesbond.wiki.com and IMDb