Tag Archives: Casino Royale

Casino Royale (1967) Review

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Casino Royale (1967)

Time: 131 Minutes
Cast:
David Niven as Sir James Bond
Peter Sellers as Evelyn Tremble/James Bond
Ursula Andress as Vesper Lynd/James Bond
Joanna Pettet as Mata Bond/James Bond
Daliah Lavi as The Detainer/James Bond
Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond
Barbara Bouchet as Miss Moneypenny/James Bond 007
Terence Cooper as Coop/ James Bond
Deborah Kerr as Agent Mimi/Lady Fiona McTarry
Orson Welles as Le Chiffre
William Holden as Ransome
Charles Boyer as Legrand
John Huston as M/McTarry
Kurt Kasznar as Smernov
Jean-Paul Belmondo as French Legionnaire
Director: John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joe McGrath, Val Guest

James Bond, a secret retired agent, sets a plan to take down SMERSH. Later, James Bond renames a group of agents with the same name in order to hide the real one.

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I had watched all the James Bond movies, including the unofficial Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery. But one Bond film I hadn’t gotten to yet was the 1960s Casino Royale. Casino Royale was the first novel in the James Bond book series, there were attempts to adapt it in the 60s with Sean Connery, but from what I could tell, there was issues with the rights. Eventually it was made as a spoof of the James Bond movies, and most nowadays people don’t really know about this film (especially after the 2006 film). Despite the reviews, I went in open minded and was hoping to enjoy it on some level. However, it ended up being worse than I thought it would be.

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The movie is titled Casino Royale, it features characters named Le Chiffre and Vesper Lynd, and there is a card game that takes place at Casino Royale. But that’s as far as the similarities to the original James Bond story go. The movie is pretty much a James Bond spoof, unfortunately it doesn’t really succeed as that. The script really is a mess, and its not surprising that 11 scriptwriters had worked on it. It just felt like they had thrown a lot of different ideas at the wall and saw what stuck. The plot is bizarre and absolutely incoherent, even spoof movies are at least comprehensible. The setup is that a retired James Bond played by David Niven returns from retirement to take on SMERSH (parody of SPECTRE) which involves giving multiple agents the name of James Bond. That’s as far as I can describe the plot. As for the spoof/satire aspect, it largely deals with the themes of sex and womanising in the James Bond franchise, and this is established very early on. Eventually it forgets that, and very little of the overall humour is based on Bond tropes. Most of the jokes aren’t funny and really miss the mark, and it only grows more tedious to watch as the movie progresses. I won’t say that its completely unfunny, there are some moments which are so absurd that I did find them funny, the ending is particularly insane. But those take up a very small part of the movie, and with the unfunny and annoying humour and the prolonged sections, Casino Royale is quite boring and a slog to sit through. The worst part of this movie might be the length. Had this just been 90 minutes long, I think I wouldn’t have minded the movie as much. It would’ve been a weird and trashy 60s James Bond spoof that would’ve been somewhat enjoyable in its weirdness. However, Casino Royale is over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, there’s just so much pointless and random padding, and it makes the experience even more insufferable.

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There is a weirdly large cast, filled with known names from the 60s. Unfortunately, they are all wasted here. I did somewhat enjoy David Niven, in this movie he’s playing the original James Bond. His stuttering and flustered Bond was amusing to see, even if you can easily call him the worst on screen James Bond. For the most part though, the cast are just wasted and given bad parts. There are a couple of exceptions. For examples, Woody Allen is in this movie and while his character is bad, his presence makes the whole movie even more annoying when he appears on screen. This is the first time I’ve seen Allen act in a movie and I’m very content with never seeing him again. That being said, his final scene did actually make the viewing worth it in the end. The other exception is the surprising addition of Orson Welles. In this movie he plays Le Chiffre, and for what its worth he was one of my favourite parts of the movie. He is good in his scenes, unfortunately he’s not in this movie as much as I would’ve liked. Its just a shame that out of all the James Bond movies he could’ve been in, he ended up in this one.

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As if 11 screenwriters for one movie wasn’t enough indication that Casino Royale was going to be a mess, its also directed by 5 people: John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joe McGrath and Val Guest. Just by looking at the movie, you can easily tell that its from the 60s and the direction is really a mixed bag. For what its worth though, there is some creativity on a visual level, from the production design to the colours and lighting. There’s even some German Expressionist inspired visuals in the Berlin segment. I also liked the score, its very 60s and probably deserves to be in a better movie than this.

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1960s Casino Royale is easily the worst movie with the James Bond character, but also one of the most ill-conceived films I have seen. I do like some of the actors, and there were a few moments of absurdity I did enjoy. On the whole though, it is really bad. Most of the humour misses, it fails to be a solid spoof or satire of James Bond, and its just dull to sit through. The troubled and messy production certainly comes across in the end product. If you are looking for a good parody or spoof of James Bond, Austin Powers and Johnny English deliver on that much better. I’d only recommend Casino Royale (1967) to those who are very curious or want to watch all the James Bond movies, but you really aren’t missing out if you don’t watch this.

Daniel Craig’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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With No Time to Die out in cinemas now, I decided to rank the 5 movies in Daniel Craig’s 15 year run as James Bond.

I will admit that although I like most of the movies, I’m not a massive fan of James Bond. My favourite version of Bond however was always Daniel Craig’s. While there’s only three of the five movies that I love, I just really liked this version of Bond, both the approach to the character and Craig’s performance.

This list is going to contain some minor spoilers, since these movies link into each other.

5. Quantum of Solace

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For the longest time I was trying to decide which I considered to be worse, Quantum of Solace or Spectre. They are both flawed for incredibly different reasons, but I gave Quantum the edge, if only for its messiness. With that said, I surprisingly liked the movie noticeably more upon recent rewatch of it in the lead up to No Time to Die. It’s quite a different James Bond movie, with it acting as the first direct sequel to the last Bond movie, and does try to be more of a political thriller taking inspiration from real world events. Its known at this point that this movie was made during the writer’s strike and was heavily affected by it, and you can really feel it. The writing felt like it needed more work and fleshing out. With that said, I did like the attempt at grounding itself even more in reality, and although the story is lacklustre compared to Casino Royale’s, I was interested in where it was going. I especially liked the portrayal of James Bond being a ruthless loose cannon, as he’s searching for revenge. The villain in Dominic Greene is underwhelming and doesn’t feel like a real threat compared to many of the other Bond villains, but I think he worked well enough for this story, and the performance was good. The action is also a mixed bag. Aside from a scene involving a plane, all the action has a lot of quick cut editing, making some of them hard to follow. For whatever reason I also enjoyed these more on the more recent viewing. I definitely feel like they could’ve laid off the quick cuts, but I like how gritty and brutal the action was.

I thought the acting was all quite solid. Daniel Craig again puts everything into the role of Bond, and he’s especially great here. The supporting cast, both returning (Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright) and new (Olga Kurylenko) did solid jobs in their part too. I also liked the direction of the movie on the whole, there are some genuinely great moments, such as a sequence taking place at an opera. Overall, I wouldn’t call this one of the best Bond movies by any means. However there’s something about this chaotic, brutal and angry mess of a movie that I genuinely enjoy. At the very least, there’s a lot of this movie I appreciate and admire, even if it’s by no means anywhere to being close to the level of its predecessor.

My review of Quantum of Solace

4. Spectre

Spectre might not be the worst of the Daniel Craig Bond films, but it is the most frustrating of the 5. Director Sam Mendes and co. did such incredible work with Skyfall that it’s quite disappointing to see that their follow up didn’t come anywhere close to being as good. With that said, my more recent rewatch did put things in perspective for me. For the most part, Spectre is a solid film that just happens to not work as well as Skyfall. Skyfall did such a good job at paying tribute to the older Bond films, while making it work on its own. Spectre on the other hand was all over the place with what it wanted to do. It tried to tie together all the other Craig Bond films and trying to go into Bond’s past, while also trying to throw back to the classic Bond films, with over the top scenes, and ‘classic’ Bond moments. The two tones just didn’t work together at all. The plot is intriguing and solid, though it’s a little predictable and could’ve been better. Despite the long runtime, a lot of the plot and characters could’ve been fleshed out more. The cast are decent, especially with the returning actors like Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, and some of the newer additions like Lea Seydoux. However, some actors like Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott and Christoph Waltz don’t really get to do much in their parts. The action is generally well filmed and entertaining, although missing a level of intensity that was present in the previous 3 movies. However, the opening action sequence and the fight between Bond and Dave Bautista’s henchman on a train were genuinely great. In fact, the film is quite good on a technical level, visually stunning, well edited, and greatly put together.

Where the film starts to go downhill is when it enters into its third act, specifically once it gets to Christoph Waltz’s second onscreen appearance. While the prospect of Waltz as a Bond villain sounded exciting, his character and his writing just didn’t work all that well for the story. Had it not been for Waltz’s appearance in No Time to Die, I think that even Dominic Greene from Quantum of Solace would’ve been better. Not only that, but trying to tie all the previous Bond movies together in Spectre just felt misguided. Then it moves into its rather baffling and underwhelming climax. It manages to be silly yet boring at the same time. From the Sony email leaks it seems that the filmmakers didn’t know what to do for the end, and it certainly showed on screen. It is borderline terrible and definitely brought the movie down for me significantly. Spectre is good for the most part, but there’s also a lot here that doesn’t work. I do rank Spectre higher than Quantum of Solace if only for consistency in quality for the first two acts, before it collapses in the last act.

My review of Spectre

My retrospective review of Spectre

These next three are very close together and are interchangeable.

3. No Time to Die

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The most recent film on this list, No Time to Die is the latest James Bond film and the conclusion of Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. At a whopping 2 hours and 45 minutes there was a lot to take in with this film, especially from the one viewing I had of it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The story itself is the closest to a classic Bond movie with some of the tropes and aspects you’d expect, an over-the-top villain with a plan that affects the whole world, gadgets, cheesy one liners, you name it. It was quite an entertaining ride and despite the length, it never really dragged for me. It also has an emotional core, and worked in tying up all the characters and storylines, better than Spectre did at least. It even made some of the elements from Spectre work better retroactively. Cary Fukunaga’s direction was great, delivering an energetic, well-paced, and vibrant film. The action was great and memorable, very well shot, and definitely rivals the best action scenes from the previous 4 films.

Everyone in this ensemble cast is great, from the returning actors like Lea Seydoux and Ralph Fiennes, to newer actors including Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas and Rami Malek. However, it all comes down to Daniel Craig, and while he’s great in all of these movies, this is his best work as James Bond. He delivers the one-liners and the action, but also gives his most emotional performance as the character. Despite the global stakes involving a dangerous weapon, No Time to Die’s main story is Bond’s story and above all else, it gives him a great sendoff. Again, the film was a lot to take in, so I will need to watch it again. However at the moment, I’m prepared to say that I loved it.

My review of No Time to Die

2. Casino Royale

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The James Bond franchise rebooted yet again after 2002’s Die Another Day, with GoldenEye director Martin Campbell releasing Casino Royale in 2006. This is where Daniel Craig’s James Bond was introduced, focussing on a Bond who just became a double 0 agent. By James Bond standards, it stays relatively grounded, with the lead character never relying on gadgets. It’s a comparatively refined and mature Bond film, and everything from the intriguing story to the well-developed characters are all on point. It’s quite something watching Casino Royale again 15 years after its release, it still holds up really well.

Daniel Craig gave his own take on Bond, with his incarnation being the best version of the character to date. Both his performance and the writing provided to him is very strong and for made for him being more human and a more interesting character. The supporting cast is also strong, with the likes of Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench and others playing their parts greatly. Martin Campbell’s work as a director is also excellent and helped the film succeed as well as it did, especially when it comes to the outstanding action sequences. Nearly a decade and a half later, Casino Royale still holds up very well as a James Bond movie, an action movie, and a movie in general.

My review of Casino Royale

1. Skyfall

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It was pretty hard deciding between Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite Craig-era Bond film, ultimately I gave Skyfall the edge. After the first two movies being more grounded and Bourne-esque, Skyfall brings it closer to more what people picture when they think of Bond, while also delivering a personal and emotional story for the character. Both elements are balanced incredibly well, delivering an intriguing and riveting film. Despite it being closer to classic Bond than the previous 2 movies, whether it be a hacker villain, gadgets, larger action scenes and the like, the stakes are smaller and personal. The climax is particularly strong on both an entertainment and emotional level, and one that’s very different for a Bond film. While the first half is definitely strong, it’s the second half which really solidified it as my favourite of Craig’s run.

The characters and acting were also great, Daniel Craig delivers as Bond as always, but it was many of the supporting actors that stood out. The new interpretations of Q and Moneypenny with Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris, along with the eventual next M in Ralph Fiennes, were all welcome additions. Javier Bardem ranks among the best Bond villains, with a very memorable performance and character. And of course, there’s Judi Dench’s last performance as M, who gets to shine the most here out of all her Bond film appearances. Sam Mendes directs Skyfall, and his work here is fantastic. From the fantastic cinematography from Roger Deakins, to the phenomenal score from Thomas Newman, and the outstanding action, its so great on a technical level. Skyfall has held up incredibly well over the past near decade it’s been released, and still remains my favourite Daniel Craig James Bond film.

My review of Skyfall

How would you rank Daniel Craig’s James Bond films?

Casino Royale (2006)

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Casino Royale

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Judi Dench as M
Director: Martin Campbell

Promoted to 00 status, James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes on his first mission where he must face Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a private banker to the world’s terrorists. Le Chiffre set up a poker game a Montenegro to receive a large sum of money. The head of M16, M (Judi Dench) sends Bond, along with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to attend this game and stop Le Chiffre from winning.

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To me Casino Royale is the Batman Begins of James Bond. It took the series in a more realistic direction and ultimately, the best direction it could go in. Casino Royale reboots the franchise with its new tone, a new Bond and a fresh start. This is one of, if not the best James Bond movie made.

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It has been argued by some die hard James Bond fans that this movie didn’t feel like a James Bond movie. It should be known that Casino Royale is the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, in many ways this is a prequel to previous and later Bond movies being released. There aren’t any gadgets being used in this movie as much as previous Bond films did. Also a good thing to know is that you don’t have to have watched any of the previous Bond films to love this one, as the formula of the film is different from previous James Bond movies. Fans of the other Bond movies need to keep in mind that this is really the first James Bond; there were no gadgets, there were no one liners; this is Bond, before he really was Bond. The story’s pacing is done right, it isn’t the same as other Bond films but it was done well and was structured out well.

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This movie’s tone was grittier than previous movies so it required an actor who could portray James Bond’s new characterisation; Craig does that here and also manages to have a naturalistic feeling as him. Each actor who has played Bond has their own take on him and in Casino Royale, he is a much more ruthless and cold-blooded character than how some of the other actors portrayed him. Daniel Craig’s performance is one that I can buy as being realistic. The supporting cast was also great especially Mads Mikkelsen as the film’s main antagonist, Le Chiffre. He was a Bond villain that managed to feel grounded in reality instead of being like some of the over-the-top villains in the franchise, as well as having a realistic motive unlike some others (like Hugo Drax from Moonraker). Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd who is a love interest to James Bond and shares great chemistry with Craig. In my opinion, her character is one of the best bond girls as she managed to actually make an impact on Bond, unlike many of the others the James would later come across (that were in the previous movies). Judi Dench returns for the 5th time as M and also stole the scenes that she was in.

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The action in this movie is filmed well; it helps that this movie is under the direction of Martin Campbell, the man behind Goldeneye which was another great Bond Movie. The stunt work is also really good, especially a scene earlier in the film when Bond is in Madagascar. Casino Royale takes place in many locations and the cinematography is done very well in those many locations. The soundtrack also is very Bond-esque and gets the mood set up at the right moments.

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Casino Royale and Skyfall are my two favourite James Bond movies. I still don’t know what I prefer but either way, because of Casino Royale, the series introduced a tone that I liked more than some of the other films had. I’m glad that the Bond franchise is going in this direction. With a new type of Bond, a story that is really good and action scenes that are really entertaining, Casino Royale gave me what I wanted in a good Bond film and overall, a good film.