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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

15 Years Later: Casino Royale

17 November 21 words: Kieran Burt

As No Time to Die brings Daniel Craig's run as Bond to a close, we take a look back at where it all began...

Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen
Running time: 144 minutes 

Casino Royale turns fifteen this month and the recent release of Daniel Craig’s final appearance as Bond means that there is no better time to revisit his very first. A black and white scene introduces the audience to this more violent and gritty take on the character, showing this take will be significantly different to what came before. The integration of the iris pose as the introduction closes is extremely smart, giving the scene an explosive end. If only the later Bond films of the Craig era were as imaginative.    

The plot of the movie is very tightly written, surrounding a high stakes game of poker. This is shown very early on with the opening crawl, featuring a clever and visually impressive sequence using the various card symbols as bullets and people, showing that Bond’s job is not just about skill but also luck. The ending sequence in Venice does let the film down, though, as it tries to introduce new villains in the final act without properly exploring them at any point beforehand.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre is quietly unsettling. When he is introduced he is notably on edge, both the music and the sense of unease making this clear. Yet as things progress, his cool and calculating demeanour is revealed. An international banker willing to risk his operations on forays against the market and high stakes games of poker, Le Chiffre is not the usual moustache twirling villain. Towards the end, he lets his rage and terror show, with a brutal torture of Bond - it turns out a rope can do some real damage, especially to more sensitive areas.

Throughout the fifteen years since its release, Casino Royale hasn’t been topped as the best Daniel Craig film

However, Le Chiffre starts off a problematic trend in the Daniel Craig era of Bond villains. All of them (with the exception of Dominic Greene) have some sort of facial disfigurement, prompting questions around misrepresentation. When a franchise consistently presents people within this community in a certain way, it undoubtedly has a negative effect. 

M (Judi Dench) establishes her presence early in the film, marking her introduction with a fantastic one liner. She takes a no nonsense approach with Bond, and is an imposing figure throughout the film. But Dench’s character also knows when to show sympathy for 007, making the dynamic between the two more human than in the past. 

Throughout the fifteen years since its release, Casino Royale hasn’t been topped as the best Daniel Craig film. It gives audiences a fresh take on the franchise and on Bond, stripping back the technology, a large amount of the quips (meaning the ones left are bound to give audiences a chuckle) and introducing a villain with a quiet menace about him - instead of an over the top caricature. However, its misrepresentation of people with facial disfigurements continue to haunt the franchise, and the final scenes fall apart under the weight of relying on so many characters who haven’t had a proper introduction.

Did you know? Daniel Craig initially rejected the part of James Bond, as he felt that the series had settled into a standard formula. He changed his mind when he read the finished script.

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