“Money isn’t as valuable to our organization as knowing who to trust.”
– Mr White
James Bond (Daniel Craig) gets his 00 status after cleaning out some treacherous MI6 staff. As a newly appointed 007 agent, he is sent to Madagascar to capture an international bomb-maker and acquire who they are all reporting to. When Mollaka, the bomb-maker, realizes that he is being tailed, he heads for the nearest embassy. Things end badly when Bond is unable to bring Mollaka in, and shoots him to death instead and sets off a massive explosion. He does, however, have to phone, and moves on to more promising issues. Bond breaks into M’s (Judi Dench) home and goes through her personal machine. She gives him off time, in which he goes to the Bahamas after tracing the text on Mollaka’s phone to an Alex Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian), who is connected to banker and terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).
M realizes what Bond is doing, though she is furious that he stole her passcodes and hacked into her account to do his research. Bond seduces Dimitrios’s wife, and discovers that her husband is on the last flight out of the country. He follows Dimitrios to Miami, where he kills him while figuring out what he is up to. In a clever plan, Bond finds out who Dimitrios was making a drop for and follows the man to Miami International Airport. Le Chiffre is involved with short-selling stock in successful companies and then hosting terrorist attacks against them to ensure he is the one that makes the big cash back. Bond realizes that Le Chiffre’s latest plan is to bomb the new Skyfleet airliner, and makes sure he stops him.
Le Chiffre has real problems now thanks to Bond, and is in a lot of debt after having a lost a lot of influential and terrifying people’s money. To get it back, he enters into a high stakes poker tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. M decides that Bond should go there and compete, but only because he is the best player they have. She intends for Bond to win, so that Le Chiffre will be forced to assist the British government in exchange for protection from his old clients. British Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is sent to be Bond’s cover as well as the money. The tournament has a $10 million dollar buy-in. Bond enters, and progressively loses his money due to ego, pride and arrogance. His local MI6 contact, René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) is not impressed, and does not know what to do when Vesper refuses to buy Bond in another hand.
CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) comes to Bond’s aid, and supplies him the cash to continue playing. Le Chiffre is unhappy that Bond is suddenly doing so well on his second chance, and attempts to kill Bond, who ultimately survives. When all is said and Bond, much to the displeasure of Le Chiffre, wins the tournament. He celebrates with Vesper, whom he is falling in love with. However, the honeymoon period will not last, and she is kidnapped by Le Chiffre’s men, who it turns out was not in the American’s grasp. Using her as bait, they capture Bond.
Will Bond be able to save Vesper? Will he be able to escape Le Chiffre’s deadly clutches? Will the money safely make it back to the people it belongs to? Will Le Chiffre manage to recover the inordinate amounts of money that he lost so that he will be safe from the terrorists that are hunting him? Who is betraying whom, and will Bond be able to survive long enough to truly enjoy the worth of his 00 status?
Casino Royale earns a solid 9/10. This is by far my favourite Bond film of them all, and embodies everything I expect a Bond film to be. Yes, I can wax lyrical about this film, and I am going to do so now. Everything about this movie worked. The cast was great, the camerawork was wonderful, the action was top notch, the dialogue was good, the story was well presented and laid out, the score worked wonderfully and it was probably the first Bond intro to really impress me (no more gyrating, naked silhouettes, but a story to boot in its own right). Then there is Daniel Craig. He is my favourite Bond of them all, only Dalton being in a similar league. Craig completed what Dalton set out to do – give us a deeper, grittier, raw Bond with more going on psychologically than just sex and guns. For the first time, we get a brief look at Bond prior to being granted his 00 status, as well as what he does with it. Daniel Craig’s agent gave us someone who played by a different set of rules – he is edgy, he is dark, he is flawed. The way his two assassinations prior to his 00 status were done in black and white was pretty cool, too, showing that there was a difference. The love story that was worked in between Vesper and Bond was also good, it had a little more substance than we are used to seeing from Bond. Mads Mikkelsen, as ever, was simply amazing, and gave us a fresh, new villain. I was again reminded that he is truly an underrated actor. Hopefully we will be seeing more of him since his breakthrough in Hannibal… It would be lovely. The stunts in Casino Royale were well executed. Overall, this was a great way to reboot a franchise that desperately needed some phenomenal reviving. Bond’s gadgets were also limited a lot more in this one, which made me happy. The show was not stolen/killed because of some technology. Eva Green was an absolutely gorgeous Bond girl, truly a stunning lady. The relationship between M and Bond is also pretty awesome in here. Really, I have gone back to Casino Royale the most over the years, and it never ceases to thrill me. In my opinion, it is the best Bond film of the series.