With the story concentrating on the beginnings as Bond as we know him the central character has to be much younger and a lot more arrogant then previous Bonds, the Bond we know and love today got there through his experiences in MI6 after all.
Previous Bond actor Pierce Brosnan is too old to play this young vibrant Bond with little experience who is still learning and on occasion gets it wrong and so a new actor was need to fill the vacant shoes. After much publicity the job finally went to little known British actor Daniel Craig, much to many a fans annoyance, who didn't see Craig right for the role, even if the main reason was because he is blonde.
Were the fans right? Absolutely not, Craig is actually fantastic in the role, and throughout much of Casino Royale he actually carries what is at times some rather dodgy scripting. Craig is a good actor, he's moody looking, he is good at action, his face looks like he's been in a punch up or two, and he can just about carry the humor.
Interestingly while watching this Bond in action I realized what a bad choice for Bond Timothy Dalton was, and to some extent even Roger Moore. Bond is meant to be an action hero, Connery pulled it off, Brosnan pulled it off and here we are now with an actor that seems to have slipped into the skin with ease.
The story to Casino Royale is almost just a way of getting from one action sequence to the next, but there is a story. The central story is about a rich banker who is a mathematical genius and is going to use a game of poker at the Casino Royale to win enough money to fund terrorists.
Bond first follows a lead to Madagascar without telling M he is going, while there he infiltrates a terrorist and kills him in front of the embassy, making headlines and embarrassing the department. Bond is therefore tagged and sent on his way to infiltrate the Banker Le Chiffre in his attempt to win $150 million and fund terrorism.
Assigned to join him is an MI6 accountant Vesper Lynd, after all he is about to gamble with £15 Million of their money. Vesper is a very good looking accountant and after the drama of the high stakes game of poker it doesn't take long before the cold hearted Bond falls for the lady, and they pledge their undying love for each other.
This is a Bond film and the path of true romance can never be as smooth as it should be, especially for our leading man, and he has to somehow become the Bond we all came to know and love from Dr. No.
Casino Royale is very well directed by Martin Campbell who is now on his second outing as a Bond director and certainly seems to be comfortable with the material and from this evidence is a very accomplished action director.
The Bond girls in this movie are good and certainly serve their purpose within the film, but this is a film which introduces a new Bond actor so naturally Craig dominates the film which means that there is little scope within the running time to really expand the characters, Vesper certainly gets her fair share of action but ultimately she is just another Bond girl.
As good as Casino Royale is, and during the ever so long 144 minute running time you will be mostly entertained, it does have it's faults. The story gets a little lost in place, and jumps about a little too much without continuity between story segments. Things more or less work until the point after the big poker game, then things take a turn and things seem just a little disjointed. The concept of time also seems to be lost, at one point in the film the poker players take a break, during this break Bond follows that bad guy, infiltrates and kills some people getting beat up quite badly in the process, goes back to his room and get cleaned up with a new shirt and perfect hair, all this in a short break.
One of the biggest niggles I had with the film was the period the film should have been set in. The book was written in the 1960's and we have a pre-credit sequence that's in black and white to try and enforce this period. The producers have done a good job at capturing the feel of the decade but they have inject modern culture into the process, this doesn't work, they should have kept to a 60's feel throughout with no pop culture references and technology.
One of the biggest crimes the film commits though is the title music, there have been some brilliant songs accompanying some weird and wonderful title sequences, but here the song is one of the worst and the title sequence is just boring, a real let down.
The producers of this film have done a great job, it has the action and a few witty lines and all the other trademarks which define a Bond film. They have managed to get a lead actor which has taken his role seriously and produced one of the finest Bonds there has been, they clearly enjoy seeing him drenched, just count the number of times he gets wet in the film.
This is a fine addition to one of the worlds longest running and most successful franchises, and for a series that is now in it's 21st episode that's not bad, Bond really has come of age.