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.
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.