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Casino Royale

Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright

Runtime: 144 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, scene of torture, sexual content and nudity.

The iconic Hollywood character with the license to kill returned to the silver screen in 2006 with a new face, a new Bond girl and not so many gadgets. This time around, Daniel Craig takes over as the infamous 007 in “Casino Royale”.

There was a lot to live up to and from the get go the movie doesn’t disappoint. We first see James Bond as a government agent who is promoted to “Double O” by M (Dench) after making his second kill. (As we see in a flashback sequence, the first kill didn’t go smoothly.)

Bond quickly goes to Madagascar where he is on the trail of a smalltime bomb maker with big time criminal ties. After things are terribly botched, a roguish Bond travels to the Bahamas where he discovers and ultimately foils a plot to blow up a new jetliner set to be unveiled in Miami. But where does this all take him?

M advises Bond of the sinister Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen), who, we discover, owes some shady people a considerable amount of money (and even more now that the plane explosion went awry). In order to settle his debts, Le Chiffre has organized a high stakes poker tournament in Montenegro. Against M’s better judgment and since Bond is the best card player MI6 has to offer, she has no other choice but to send 007. However, to keep their $10 million investment secure, MI6 chooses to send operative Vesper Lynd (Green) along. While they’re supposed to pretend to be a loving couple, Bond and Lynd’s biggest obstacle may actually be to act as if they can stand each other.

While in Montenegro the duo meets up with field agent Mathis (Giannini) who has a certain penchant for doing his job well! But are friends who they appear to be? As the poker tournament intensifies, Bond soon discovers that the stakes may be a little too high.

I had high anticipations for “Casino Royale” and the movie didn’t disappoint. Daniel Craig takes the Bond character in a different direction and it was interesting to see 007 as somewhat flawed. Being new to the “license to kill” gig, we see Bond make errors in judgment as well as loose his cool a bit.

The movie also didn’t have the gadgetry and special effects like some of the previous films did. I think this was a good idea, allowing movie fans to focus more on the story.

Action movie fans will not be disappointed in this Bond film either. One of my favorite action scenes was the chase sequence with Bond running after the bomb maker at the beginning. There’s also the typical banter between Bond and M that brings a bit of comic relief to the film and plenty of intense moments like Le Chiffre torturing Bond for the “secret code” and a scene where a poisoned 007 almost doesn’t make it.

There were a few things they film could have focused more on. For example, we only see Felix Leiter (Wright) for a few scenes and don’t get to know too much about him except he’s working for the U.S. Government. It’s also not made very clear who the real mastermind behind everything is. Is it Mr. White (Jesper Christensen)? Perhaps, as some rumors have it, this will be answered in the next installment.

My Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Be sure to read A Profile of Daniel Craig.

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