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Story- While I can respect the whole James Bond story of the under-cover, crime-stopping, strong, and charismatic character and the epic escapades that is the whole idea of James Bond, Casino Royale has lacking plot. There is an attention grabbing hook at the beginning and lots of tense fight scenes with epic fighting skills but I could not follow the plot that well. The movie centers on Bond’s efforts at stopping Le Chiffre, the terrorist-funding middle man, from winning the game of poker but it needs more backstory. In a book, the poker scenes would probably be much more involved because it would be filled with the characters internal thoughts. In this movie I found the scenes to be confusing. The last poker game does make up for some of this because the audience gets some feedback from each player. Bond’s internal conflict is that he is a supposedly sharp, professional, hard edged guy but then he slowly (or not so slowly really) falls in love with Vesper. I liked their storyline much better than the main one because their story was not a typical Hollywood love story. Their exchanges have a sharper edge to it but at other times they show themselves to be capable of tenderness; Bond sits with Vesper in the shower fully clothed after the stairwell scene and Vesper dies in Venice so Bond can live and…then gives him a name of a man to kill who is behind a lot of the terror.

Thinking Like a Director- While I did not especially like the plot structure I thought the director does a good job of product placement, showing the hidden color, and camera angles. Sony cellphones are shown a lot as well Vaio computers. Women in red, red poker chips, the red-themed opening sequence are also used subtly but tactfully. The action scenes have a good use of camera handling especially in the poisoning scene. The dizzying, almost nausea-inducing way the director gets shots of Bond’s sweaty face enhances the scene for the audience.

Acting- Daniel Craig does a great job as Bond because he had a no-nonsense, hard-edged air about him. The strikingly bright blue eyes and formidable expression make Craig seem like a man who knows what he wants and is confident that he will get it; this makes him seem like the most believable character. Mads Mikkelson plays Le Chiffre well because he has the slightly greasy, weak, and desperate look in his eyes in the movie. Le Chiffre is the kind of guy in the terrorist cell who knows that he has something to lose and that he can be replaced. Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd well as she gives her a “prickly demeanor” as Bond says during the train scene. She repeatedly seems to be on the verge of laughing in Bond’s face but at other times she does a good job of retaining some level innocence as she does during the stairwell scene at the Casino Royale.

Music- There is not a soundtrack for Casino Royale but it still has the Bond theme and the signature crescendo of horns and cymbals during fight scenes. The song You Know My Name by Chris Cornell acts as a warning to Bond from Vesper. The lyrics “Arm yourself because no one else here will save you-

The odds will betray you and I will replace you” allude to Vesper’s betrayal of Bond in Venice.

Personal Perspective- The most memorable scenes are the fight scene on the cranes in the beginning because of all the jumping. The second is the scene after the last poker game where Vesper and Bond are eating dinner and then Vesper gets taken because it sets up the second half of the movie. My least favorite scene was the where Bond gets tortured. I thought it was sadistic and unnecessarily violent and the movie would have been better with another scene. Also, this James Bond is a lot darker character than the previous Bonds; they were funny, charismatic, suave and only killed people when absolutely necessary. Though Daniel Craig is believable in his role, his character is more…sarcastic, hard-edged, cocky and more of a killer for sport. This Bond is likable but still any audience member would be a little frightened to be in a room alone with someone like him (though some wouldn’t admit to it). He does not feel guilty over the thing he has done; he snickers when the would-be bomber is blown up next to him on the tarmac at Miami International. He’s dark and vengeful; very post 9/11 hero instead of the more jovial, lucky type of hero that were often seen before 9/11. It saddens me to say that I root for these kinds of characters more often than taking myself out of all their violence.

Spiritual Perspective- There was not a lot of spirituality in Casino Royale but Vesper does mention that her family is Catholic in the car before she and Bond arrive at the Casino Royale. If I had been the director I would have added a scene at the end after Vesper dies where Bond is sitting outside a cathedral in Venice. He would not be praying, just looking at the building and then agent M would call him. I would have liked there to be some allusion to Bond’s beliefs even though he is a killer. It would have been a clue if his forgiveness Vesper for her betrayal that the audience does not get in the actual movie. It would have softened his character.



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