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(Review originally written at 26 November 2006)

Before this movie Superman 'returned', Batman 'began' and now it's James Bond turn to get a complete 21th century make-over. The character is revised and the makers begin with this movie from scratch, with showing Bond on his very first mission. We learn more about the character, such as why he threats women like he does. Bond in this movie is still a rough diamond that needs polishing. He doesn't respect his boss (M) and is very self-centered and uncontrolled in his actions and emotions. It shows Bond as a more humane and realistic character.

I wasn't unhappy with the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies (even though "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World Is Not Enough" weren't exactly the greatest), so for me it wasn't really needed to revise the character and give the series a complete make-over. Needless to say I was quite reluctant about this movie at first. That however ended after seeing the first trailer of the movie. Bond seemed to go back to its basics and the character seemed so much more interesting. My biggest complaint about the Brosnan Bond movies always had been that they featured to many (needless) SFX and massive big gun fights. I had always preferred the good old fashioned fist fights from the earlier Bond movies. This movie surely spoiled me with that! The action was raw, bold and straight-forward and Bond used his fists more than his gun

The action is definitely one of the best I've seen in a long time. I already knew that Martin Campbell was a great action director, with movies such as "The Mask of Zorro", "No Escape" and the other Bond movie "GoldenEye" behind his name. But the action in this movie surely surpasses his other work. The stunts are absolutely phenomenal and the action is brought well to the screen, also thanks to the editing from action movie specialist Stuart Baird. The action was filmed realistic, rather than just big and spectacular. In a way it made the action more intense and exciting to follow.

Daniel Craig also proofs with this movie that he can play a great action hero. Step aside Ethan Hunt and Jason Bourne, Daniel Craig as James Bond is the new kid on the block and he is great! He doesn't only handle the action well and convincing but also the Bond character. He makes the character more humane with emotions and shows that Bond can still be seriously wounded and emotionally touched. So he makes the action as well as the emotions work out. A real accomplishment, that not just every actor would had succeeded in. It shows that Daniel Craig is the perfect man to revise the character and form the base for later Bond movies and Bond actors as well. Because after this movie I'm sure of it; Bond movies will continue to be made for at least the next 25 years and the series is far from dried up. The cast and crew really puts some new- and interesting life into the series. Craig succeeded in what Timothy Dalton tried to achieve with the Bond character and movies. (But please note that I for one really liked the Dalton Bond and movies though.)

The rest of the cast is also good. The movie is well cast, rather than just putting some big names in it. Eva Green is a good and different sort of Bond girl and Mads Mikkelsen who already was a big star in Denmark now also introduces himself to the rest of the world, as the main villain of this movie.

The movie isn't as casino game focused as the title and plot outline might suggest. Above all "Casino Royale" is still an action movie, rather than just a character-thriller with action in it.

The movie is rather simple written with a simple story but than again, stories never really had been a big requirement for any James Bond movie. Still it doesn't make the characters all work out as effective as they could had been and it makes the movie also drag at points. There are some moments in the movie in between the action sequences in which nothing is really happening. It makes the movie sometimes unnecessary slow and unnecessary uninteresting. If I look at this movie purely as an action movie, it isn't the best one around. If you look at this movie as a part of the James Bond series, it's definitely one of the better ones. It explains why I can't really rate this movie any higher than an 7 out of 10. Technically the movie is too lacking in story-flow, plot and characters to be considered a perfect one, even for action movie standards. Still I'm enthusiastic about this movie and can recommended to everyone, even if you aren't really familiar with any of the other Bond movies. This is the perfect movie to get (re)introduced to the character.

This movie lays a good foundation for later 'new' James Bond movies and I'm convinced of it that the movies, just like Daniel Craig as the character, will only get better and more like the 'old' Bond movies (so with gadgets, more humor, more sex etc.) but still in the same new and more serious 'realistic' approach of the character and the movie in general.

Bond is dead, long life Bond!

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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