Sophie Farrell’s review published on Letterboxd:
Casino Royale is the best Bond film of the 21st century so far. It was exactly the perfect tonic for the franchise after the mess that was Die Another Day. This is Bond back to basics and, as a result, it is one of the very best entries in the series. I've always felt that out of all of Daniel Craig's Bond films, Casino Royale is the one that most feels like a Bond film.
The film sees Bond earn his 00 status and license to kill. The story follows the newly promoted Bond as he is assigned to bankrupt Le Chiffre, a banker who finances terrorists, at a high stakes poker game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. While the plot for Casino Royale may sound simple, it is far from it. The script for this film is one of the strongest of the Bond franchise. Many people believed that Ian Fleming's original novel was un-filmable. However, it really works here. They really managed to make a film about a poker game incredibly watchable. The film is paced really well and always keeps my interest whenever I watch it. The film is full of terrific scenes, with some truly exceptional action sequences. The poker scenes are excellent. They keep the viewer invested. Had these scenes not been done well, they would have come across as boring. The dialogue is really strong with some really memorable lines. I do love the little bits of humour throughout the film.
The cast for this film is terrific. Daniel Craig hits the ground running with his debut performance as James Bond. He brings a more emotional interpretation to the character and it really works. He also really looks the part. However, the real scene stealing performance comes from Eva Green as this film's Bond girl, Vesper Lynd. She is in a class all of her own and I would dare say that she is my favourite thing about this film. Her performance is easily one of the very best from a Bond girl. Green and Craig have an excellent chemistry together. Mad Mikkelsen is an excellent villain. He has a wonderful screen presence for this sort of character. The supporting cast are also fantastic, with Judi Dench in particular being a highlight. I adore her first scene and its probably my favourite scene in the film.
Martin Campbell takes over directing duties for this entry in the franchise. He does a fantastic job with Casino Royale. There are plenty of amazing shots in this film. The action sequences are also staged incredibly well. I've heard some say that Campbell is the best Bond film director and I can definitely see where they are coming from as he orchestrated two of the very best films in the series. Casino Royale is also one of the best looking films in the series. Each scene is shot wonderfully. I adore the music score by David Arnold and I like how he holds off using the Bond theme until the very end. It is very effective. I also really love Chris Cornell's opening theme song for the film. Its easily one of my very favourite Bond themes.
Overall, Casino Royale is one of the very best films in the James Bond franchise. It perfectly reinvents the franchise for the 21st century without losing its identity. The plot is very interesting and easy to invest in. The performances and the direction throughout the film are terrific. Casino Royale is a film that I never get bored off. I've always held it in high regard among the other Bond films and its been a staple of my favourites list for many years now, something that won't be changing anytime soon. Highly recommended!