This week on Movies Worth Rewatching we’re talking about the 21st James Bond film, Casino Royale (2006, Sony Pictures).
Like so many people my age, I was first introduced to James Bond by way of movie marathons aired on TV, and man did I love them. A younger me would sit and obsess over all the cool gadgets, exotic locations and all of the beautiful and sexy… cars found throughout those movies. I hadn’t the faintest idea what being a spy actually entailed; killing, lying, killing, killing, lying, killing. All I knew was James Bond was cool, and important, and sophisticated, and I wanted to be him when I grew up. But as I grew older, James Bond began to fade into my past along with other interests of my youth. My taste in heroes evolved and my understanding of the kind of person who becomes a spy was expanded. I didn’t want to be James Bond anymore, I wanted to be someone actually cool like a rockstar (true story) or an artist (still true).
During the Pierce Brosnan years of the Bond franchise, I went to the theater to see the movies with my friends, mostly for nostalgia. I was never truly invested in those new Bond films like I had been as a child. There was something missing in those films that was essential to me loving James Bond again. Eventually I just gave up on the franchise entirely. By the time Casino Royale came out in 2006, I couldn’t be bothered to go see another James Bond film, not even for the nostalgia, gadgets or beautiful cars. In 2008, I visited one of my know-it-all movie-fan friends in Texas. During my visit the new 3-Disc Collectors Edition of Casino Royale was just coming out on DVD, and of course my friend had to buy it right then, despite my vacation to see him. Upon hearing that I’d never seen the film, my friend immediately added a screening of Casino Royale to my vacation itinerary. I’m so happy he did because Casino Royale was exactly what I needed to fall head over heels for the James Bond franchise all over again.
So how does it hold up today?
Casino Royale is without a doubt my favorite James Bond movie. Daniel Craig is absolutely fantastic in this film, subtly hinting at the pain and sorrow hiding behind the steely demeanor of James Bond. Eva Green is mesmerizing as the all-important Vesper Lynd, bringing so much more than just good looks to her “Bond Girl” performance. Martin Campbell, who had previously directed another Bond film, GoldenEye, returns to the classic grandeur of the 60s Bond films, with practical stunts, understated sophistication, and effects and choreography grounded in reality. Chris Cornell, of Soundgardern fame, provides the ultimate “Bond Song” with “You Know My Name,” summing up the character of James Bond in what I will always consider to be his second theme song. The absolute best feature of Casino Royale though, is its story. Literally, so much happens in Casino Royale that it’s like three films in one.
Casino Royale goes beyond the typical Bond film by asking and answering why someone like James Bond would do the things that he does. That’s what was missing for me. Despite their charm, gadgets, and beauty, the prior Bond films have left me wondering why someone like James Bond was important to me. Sure, they were fun, but why should I be rooting for James to save the day, aside from preventing world domination? Casino Royale answered that question for me; and further more, it completely revitalized the old Bond films I loved so much as a child. Casino Royale is currently available on DVD and Bluray and is an absolute pleasure to watch again and again. I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself and maybe you’ll find out why James Bond is important to you too.
by Mel Dale
[Editor’s Note] In a serendipitous happenstance, the new teaser trailer for the next James Bond film, Skyfall, has appeared online and I’ve embedded it below for you all to watch! It looks pretty awesome!