Casino Royale

Casino Royale ★★★★★

This was the first Bond film that I actually saw in cinemas, which is cool. Prior to that it had never been my thing, so I hadn’t seen any of the Brosnans. This rules. Seeing it now in the context of everything that came before truly strengthens it. Bond is delved into as an actual character, not just an avatar of machismo and bullets. He’s given depth and a real personality, and evolves through the movie. It’s probably the most human he’s been since On Her Majest’s Secret Service. The action has changed as well, bringing it into the Bourne era, with no (notable) CGI, relying on physicality to sell things, or subverting expectations (notably the almost car chase at the end). Eva Green as Vesper Lynd is the Bond Girl to end all Bond Girls. I don’t think any movie has done so much work to make you care about Bond’s female companion, whatever her involvement in the plot. Their banter is fun, her distaste of him palpable, and the changes between them effective. Le Chiffre is a fun villain as well—no insane plan, just a banker gambling with terrorist’s money and going further and further out on a thin branch. Solid filmmaking all around—all reboots should really be measured against this. When it comes to reinventing an old franchise and doing something differently, this is gold standard. One final thought, I’m glad Judi Dench remained.

I always knew that this would place at #1 on the Evolving Bond Ranked List when I watched it. From memory, the only one that stands a chance at ousting it is Skyfall, but we’ll see how that fares when I get there. Right now the top 5 is one film from each, except Lazenby’s 1. This, The Spy Who Loved Me, Goldeneye, The Living Daylights, and From Russia with Love. 

My internet got a little funky partway through this—thank goodness for physical media!

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