Take a Drink: when somebody plays cards
Take a Drink: when Daniel Craig just doesn’t give a fuck
Take a Drink: product placement, baby
Take a Drink: when a character does
Do a Shot: when Craig pulls off the Ursula Andress better than she did
Many a loin was confused that day
Do a Shot: for the most leg-crossing, collar-tugging torture scene ever
By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
Martin Campbell has been here before. After poor stylistic decisions and a general shift in the direction of action films at the time, the Bond franchise had hit a dead end, and Campbell was the director tasked with resurrecting the franchise after an appropriate period of time had passed. Unlike Goldeneye, though, with Casino Royale Campbell nailed it.
The videogame was capital ‘G’ Great, the opening setpiece was sensational, and Pierce Brosnan is one charming fucker. That’s 100% of the reasons why you remember Goldeneye fondly, trust me.
Casino Royale takes the franchise back to the beginning, with a prologue showing how Daniel Craig’s Bond got his 00 and a plot ripped from Ian Fleming’s first novel, never before adapted (in a canonical way, anyway). The basics are the same- a thrilling opening chase sequence leads to a shadowy criminal cabal led by a criminal mastermind- in this case Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). With the bankroll of MI7 and a lovely British Treasury agent, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Bond faces off against Le Chiffre in a game of… Texas Hold ‘Em (it was 2006). The stakes, of course, are Death, with Le Chiffre needing to make up losses he made on investments for Ugandan warlords and desperate enough to kill anyone standing in his way.
Man, where to start? The effortlessly cool prologue that establishes Daniel Craig’s emotionally detached, wryly cocksure (translation: doesn’t give a shit) persona? The big Madagascar-set opening action scene which adds breathtaking parkour skills (howww does this work so well?) to a raw, brutish physicality unseen since the heyday of Connery? That beach scene, which is just the start of the fascinating deconstruction and straight assault on the manhood of one of the 20th Century’s foremost sexual icons?
Of course, Connery did a pretty good job of this himself
How about the fact that Mads Fucking Mikkelsen plays the villain who literally weeps blood? Or that Eva Green plays the first Bond girl who is an actual character (with the exception of Diana Rigg) with her own motivations, witty repartee skills, and internal/external strength? Plus she’s super hot.
Okay, I know- I should probably start with the fact that, while Craig not only has a license to kill- he takes it out for a spin, you can feel how it hurts. The kills are punishing, traumatizing, and don’t look like very much glib fun at all. This is the first Bond to really, like really, give a shit about Bond as a character- his psychology, and the way he became the near terminator he is. Then, after putting him through his typical action film paces, Campbell and screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and one Paul Haggis have the balls to slow everything down and let Bond let his guard down and… fall in love. Well, I’ll let you see how that works out for him.
He looks like a happy sort, no?
I tried, but I couldn’t think of a single drawback to Casino Royale (okay, the Texas Hold ‘Em idea was dumb). Damn, I guess that makes it Best Bond…