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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Casino Royale (2006)

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“Casino Royale”
Rated PG-13
2006

Daniel Craig’s 2006 role as the sixth film James Bond proved more rewarding to the character than most previous efforts —namely a harder-charging, unhinged Bond.

Still suave but more violent and vulnerable, this Bond misinterpreted signals, screwed up, received serious reprimands and bled … a lot. (His face and hands often looked as if they’d been scratched with staples.) Craig could’ve been as dour as Timothy Dalton, but, as a “blunt instrument,” he roared with animalistic charisma.

This series didn’t need a dire do-over like Batman, but the series’ continuity shook and stirred into an intoxicating whirl with the rewind story of Bond’s first mission. No double entendres, Bond drives — gasp! — a Ford, and there even is a medical explanation for the villain’s filmy left eye that weeps blood.

Resident Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (with help from Paul Haggis) meet an invigorating challenge to match this stripped-down mentality with restrained, but exciting, gunplay, hand-to-hand combat, car chases and explosions. And the casino scenes are no boring flips of cards and chips — instead a battle of wills with a stairwell sword attack and cardiac arrest for kicks.

The conclusion is “Royale” with cheese, and its setup led to a feature-length conclusion in 2008’s “Quantum of Solace” that felt like a journeyman action film. But the final minutes sowed seeds for all we’ve come to know about Bond — his reliance upon gadgets, emotional detachment and a trust-no-one attitude.

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5 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Casino Royale (2006)”

  1. [...] Jones’s Diary Brokeback Mountain Brothers The Brothers Bloom Cache Capote Capturing the Friedmans Casino Royale (2006) Cast Away The Cell Changing Lanes Charlie Wilson’s War Cherish Chicago Chicken Run Children of Men [...]

  2. Nick Rogers says:

    Joe: I liked the continuity idea of "QoS," but just didn’t particularly care for the resolution. And I felt like a good deal of the action was frenetically over-edited in a way to look like the Bourne movies, but not in an organic way. (The Bourne movies want to put you in his jittery nerves, so the technique works.) But yes, the oiled Agent Fields was a great moment in that movie, and I think Daniel Craig is the most emotionally interesting Bond in years.

  3. Joe Shearer says:

    I guess I could agree with both of you (and you’re really not that far apart). The past several Bond films were stale and not all that great–the past 3 or 4 are virtually throwaway movies, good for a single viewing, but once you start watching multiple times it gets more and more difficult to overlook the rather gaping plotholes that on a first viewing you might not think about.

    But Casino Royale just upped the game and was incredible. I also liked Quantum of Solace, though it did drag quite a bit, it had some really good aspects to it (the opening car chase was spectacular). I just looked at it as a continuation of the story, and a little continuity is something Bond could use a bit of. It was maybe a little more Bourneification, but it also had a few signature Bond moments (the oiled Agent Fields was a good touch).

  4. Nick Rogers says:

    M: Thanks for reading and commenting. While I thought "The World is Not Enough" was the worst of Pierce Brosnan’s Bonds, I loved "Goldeneye" and enjoyed "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Die Another Day" (although I’ll grant you the latter pushed at the very edges of ridiculousness). So while they were outlandish, they still were by-and-large entertaining to me unlike, say, the Batman or Superman franchises had become prior to their reboots. But I agree with you on "Quantum of Solace" largely junking what worked about "Casino Royale" in favor of something more like a Jason Bourne movie. Also like you, I hope it’s an aberration and not the standard moving forward for Bond 23.

  5. I don’t agree that the Bond "series didn’t need a dire do-over" as it had been gasping for air for years.

    The result was a completely reinvigorated franchise and it is a shame that they don’t seem to have realised what made it so good, as demonstrated by Quantum of Solace.

    Hopefully the relatively poor reception of QoS will have been a slap round the face to the producers. Bond may have been born again, but we don’t want Bourne again.

    M